Utah Legislature: Rep. Christine Johnson opts out of seeking new term

Published: Friday, March 5 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake, announced Thursday she will not be seeking a third term in her House District 25 seat.

Johnson, one of two openly gay legislators, has been an outspoken advocate for equality issues during her four years at the Legislature and has particularly been involved with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people's issues.

Johnson said her time as a state representative has been "uniquely humbling," but she is troubled by what she sees as a "blatant disregard of those so in need of equal protections."

Earlier this session, Johnson agreed to a truce with GOP leaders on new legislation aimed at instituting a statewide statute that would create workplace and housing protections against discrimination on issues of sexual identity and sexual orientation. While Johnson agreed to put her legislation on hold, Republicans agreed not to move any proposals that would work to undo new anti-discrimination laws passed by Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

Johnson said she hoped local government would continue to move forward on discrimination issues and "demonstrate to state leaders that courageous leadership is admirable and that Utah is a better place when we suppress our entitled need to cast judgment on one another and instead respect the authenticity and free agency of each person."

Johnson did not say what her future plans are, though she is currently carrying a baby as a surrogate for a gay couple.

Of her time in the Legislature, she said, "It has been a life lesson in authenticity, consensus building and personal struggle for which I am immeasurably grateful."

Johnson "carried the flag" for the LGBT community, despite facing tough opposition, said Valerie Larabee, director of the Utah Pride Center.

"Chris was very open about what she believed in and what she hoped for," she said. "Knowing what opposition she faced and just to be up against that wall had to be exhausting. ... We're certainly going to miss her, but I think good leaders create leaders around them. She helped create leaders in our community who will pick up the flag and carry it forward."

e-mail: araymond@desnews.com

Contributing: Aaron Falk

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