The Governor's Commission on the Status of Women is alive and well, although its request for $26,200 was rejected by the Utah Legislature during its most-recent session. And Gov. Norm Bangerter said he would seek to have its budget request honored if he calls a special session.
"This is a celebration, not a wake, I want you to know, despite the publicity we have been receiving," Kathleen Mason, chairwoman of the commission, told about 100 women and several men Saturday at a celebration of 25th anniverisary of commission at the governor's residence. (See story on B3.)Despite some opposition from conservative groups, Bangerter reiterated Mason's remarks and said the state has been moving forward on women's issues but still has a long way to go. Part of that progress might include state funding of the commission, which it hasn't received since 1978.
Contacted later Saturday, Joy Beech, chairwoman of Families Alert, said, "The commission is not addressing problems of women who want to stay home with their children and not be forced into the workplace against their will. And until they address that problem, I will be against the funding."
Bangerter challenged women to get involved in the issues. "You have to take that initiative as well as we do. Women's issues must be elevated in our society."
After the awards ceremony, Bangerter answered reporters' questions about the composition and funding of the commission.
The governor responded to claims by Families Alert and Eagle Forum, which say the commission only represents one point of view on women's issues.
Bangerter said there will always be someone opposed to what the commission is trying to accomplish. The groups say the commission does not represent full-time homemakers and until it does, they will lobby to prevent it from receiving state money.
"We have a very diverse group," Bangerter said. He said there are women who are full-time homemakers as well as public servants and professionals on the commission. He also said it represents both liberal and conservative viewpoints.
"I would have to disagree with the governor that they are a diverse group of women," Beech said.
Colleen Colton, the governor's liaison to the commission, said she would like to get all the budget talk behind the commission so that it can begin to deal with its agenda.
Beech said the state should quit spending tax money on things that don't address the pressing issues concerning women who choose to stay home with their children.