In a recent editorial, and in a letter to the editor, my actions regarding legislation on marital rape have been discussed. After reading the letter and the editorial, I felt it important to respond so an accurate statement of my position might be established.
First, I strongly feel that Utah needs to alter its laws to make marital rape a criminal offense.Prior to the Debra Lock incident, I had learned of the deficiencies in Utah's laws and had submitted a bill request so the issue could be considered by the 1991 session of the Legislature.
Also, I have signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill submitted by Rep. Nancy Lyon and am committed to supporting it in the Legislature.
A Deseret News editorial on Feb. 3 states that I said "complaints by women's advocacy groups about their lack of input . . . made a task force bill a better alternative." I have never made this statement and its inclusion in the editorial is an error.
One reason I became involved in this issue in the first place was because I was requested to do so by representatives of female advocacy. I continue to receive and welcome their input.
I do, however, have very serious concerns about questions raised by prosecutors. Unless the law is one that prosecutors can successfully enforce, victims will suffer twice.
The first time will be at the hands of the abuser. The second time will be at the hands of the system that cannot enforce an ineffective law.
Every prosecutor with whom I have talked explained the difficulties inherent in pursuing both marital and date rape cases.
As the Legislature considers this issue, it is my hope that, for the sake of victims, they enhance the ability of prosecutors to enforce the laws that are enacted.
I am proud of my record and legislative work in the area of domestic violence legislation. In the 1989 session, I sponsored legislation to make protective orders more accessible and to establish a domestic violence task force.
In the 1990 session, I sponsored and worked on four pieces of legislation that established a pro-arrest or pro-citation policy for domestic violence cases in Utah.
In the current session of the Legislature, I am sponsoring legislation to establish an advocacy program for victims of domestic violence and to improve training of criminal justice professionals regarding family violence.
As a representative who believes in the sanctity of Utah's families, it is my pledge to continue to work for effective legislation in this area.