Calling Salt Lake City's proposal for a domestic partner registry "wrong," Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, says he's drafting a bill to make sure no Utah city or county passes such a measure.
The bill, SB267, was introduced with a title but no text as "Municipal Authority Amendments," and Buttars says the text will be released soon.
"They want us to write them a blank check," Buttars said. "How brazen they are is unbelievable."
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker proposed a citywide domestic partner registry to provide a means of legal recognition for gay couples and other unmarried unions. It would allow qualifying couples to receive certificates from City Hall attesting to their domestic partner status, which would help employers determine the status of those applying for benefits.
City Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love said she hoped lawmakers would leave it up to cities to decide on such proposals. Love added that the proposed ordinance was carefully crafted, and the city's attorneys say it doesn't violate the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and other domestic unions.
"We've always viewed this to be compassionate legislation, where we recognize families are not always husband and wife," Love said. "A support network could be a number of things. It could be a mother and daughter, it could be two best friends, it could be a gay couple."
Buttars said the bill does violate the letter and spirit of both the state's constitutional amendment and state code limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Still, he says, his bill will "make it so clear there is no way to misinterpret it."
Becker deferred comment on SB267 until he could see the text or speak with Buttars, said Helen Langan, the mayor's spokeswoman.A public hearing before the City Council is scheduled today on the proposed registry. In order to qualify, a couple over 18 years old would have to be in a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment. The city in 2006 approved extending health benefits to adult partners, siblings, long-term roommates and parents of city employees.