Persistence is key to progress in Utah

There are several bills this legislative session that might sound familiar. That’s because they’ve all been up at the legislature before. They get introduced every year in hopes this might be the year that there is finally a breakthrough. Three such bills this session are the Dating Violence Act, modifications to adoption policy, and a possible statewide non-discrimination law for LGBT individuals.

HB 50 is the Dating Violence Act and will allow protective orders to be given to dating couples that are not co-habitating. It has the potential to protect individuals from abuse and is a much needed law. This bill was introduced for the ninth time this legislative session, and it looks like this might be the year that it finally becomes law. It passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee and is currently scheduled for debate on the House floor. The bill has bipartisan support and seems to have finally gotten over the hump.

Another bill that has been introduced again is HB 214, which makes important modifications to Utah’s adoption laws. The bill allows for unmarried partners to adopt their partner’s child. This is the sixth time this bill has been introduced and is currently in the House Rules Committee. Unfortunately, it does not look like this bill will have the same success that the Dating Violence Act is experiencing. It is unlikely that this bill will pass this year, but we need to give Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck credit for continuing to try and get this much needed legislation passed.

The last bill that will probably be making a return this year is the statewide non-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals in employment and housing. This bill has not been officially introduced, but there are some promising signs that it might pass this year. The LDS church is currently meeting with the LGBT community to craft language for the bill. The endorsement of the Church is a major advantage. The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Curt Bramble, has bipartisan support, even though it will likely be opposed by the ultra-conservative Eagle Forum. Keep a close eye on this issue during the rest of the legislative session.

These three bills show the value of persistence. If the bill doesn’t pass the first time it does not mean you stop trying. In Utah it might take years to make progress. I am glad that we have some legislators that are willing to continue the fight.

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