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Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Utah Lawmaker Who Wants to Keep Same-Sex Couples from Making Wills

By Michael A. Jones -

Utah has been a beacon of LGBT rights activism of late. In the past year alone, at least 10 communities have passed anti-discrimination ordinances inclusive of the LGBT community, with more communities prepared to do so in 2011.
Yet on a statewide level, some anti-gay lawmakers are really trying to counteract this progress with some harsh legislation. Take, for instance, State Rep. LaVar Christensen, who just introduced a bill that could bar same-sex couples from making certain contractual arrangements like wills or financial arrangements.
That's right. State Rep. Christensen wants to pass legislation that could prevent LGBT people from drafting wills with their life partners. Amazing that he not only wants to keep same-sex couples apart in real life -- Rep. Christensen was one of the legislators behind Utah's constitutional amendment barring gay marriage -- he now wants to keep same-sex couples apart in death, too. Now that's how you say heartless.
As Eric Ethington notes at, same-sex couples in Utah already have very few protections on a statewide level. One thing same-sex couples rely on in order to make sure that their limited rights are respected and upheld is the use of legal contracts.
If Rep. Christensen's bill moves forward, these legal contracts could essentially be voided.
"Christensen’s bill would leave surviving same-sex partners at the mercy of their deceased partner’s family," Ethington notes. Meaning that instead of turning to a person's same-sex partner as next of kin, or recognizing the ability of same-sex couples in Utah to form contracts together, all gay people would be treated as single individuals when it comes to contracts, whether they've been partnered for 10 years or 60 years. Ridiculous.
What's more, Rep. Christensen already introduced this bill in 2006 -- literally using the same language from back then in his 2011 bill. It was narrowly defeated then. It should be overwhelmingly defeated now.
Send the Utah legislature a note that Rep. Christensen's bill, HB 182, should be nixed. Same-sex marriage might be far off in Utah. But for those who are even diehard opponents of marriage equality, what pleasure could they get out of keeping same-sex couples from forming legal contracts like wills together? It's a cruel bill, no matter where one's politics on the issue of same-sex marriage stand.

petition text -

Please defeat HB 182, and do not penalize same-sex couples


I recently became aware of Rep. LaVar Christensen's bill, House Bill 182, that could render void all legal contracts between same-sex couples. This includes financial agreements and wills.

This legislation is cruel and heartless. While opinions on same-sex marriage run the political spectrum, shouldn't all legislators, regardless of political persuasion, want to make sure that residents have the capacity to decide things like wills, and their own personal financial arrangements?

I urge you to defeat this bill, much like the bill was defeated in 2006 (albeit narrowly). This legislation has no business being on the books in Utah.

Thanks for your time.

[Your name here] 


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