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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Utah State Sen. Pat Jones Doesn't Want Gay Couples Raising Kids

By Michael Jones -

When we hear stories about politicians casting decidedly anti-gay votes, and going on record saying that same-sex couples ought not to have full and equal rights when it comes to raising and/or adopting children, it's easy to conjure up images of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, or a bevy of politicians whose claim to fame is their ability to marginalize the LGBT community.
We don't typically think of Democrats with a reputation for being an ally to the LGBT population. Yet in Utah, a supposedly gay-friendly Democratic leader actually went on record this week against a bill that would allow second parent adoptions in Utah, and enable gay couples to have the same parenting rights as their heterosexual counterparts. That politician would be State Sen. Patricia Jones, and during a town hall meeting following her vote, State Sen. Jones elaborated on why she voted against the bill.
"I live in an area, as many of you are aware ... that's really very conservative. I have walked this district five times, five election cycles. I feel like I know what's on the minds of the constituents in this area," State Sen. Jones said. "My personal belief is that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that kids are better served ... in a traditional family."
Wow, and this from a politician long considered a friend of the LGBT community.
The second parent adoption bill in Utah was a critical piece of legislation, introduced in the past at the urging of Equality Utah and other LGBT activists in the state. Utah currently bans same-sex marriage, and also prevents same-sex couples from legally registering as joint guardians or parents of a child. The end result of that policy is simple and ugly: same-sex couples raising children together aren't extended full legal rights to run a family.
Salt Lake City Weekly sums up the importance of this bill pretty succinctly:
The current law does not prevent a parent from forming a same-sex relationship and raising children with that partner--it's not clear that a Constitutional law could do that--but the same-sex partner, or "second parent," can not legally adopt his or her partner's children to ensure legal protections. The legal protections are many and diverse, but most dramatically, if the legally recognized parent dies, the "second parent" does not have rights to the children who would be placed in foster care.
That's a particularly scary scenario, yet it's a reality that same-sex couples raising children in Utah face. And apparently a reality that State Sen. Jones is peachy keen with.
Send State Sen. Jones a message that her vote not only is a slap in the face to her LGBT constituents, but it punishes same-sex couples across the state of Utah. As a constituent of State Sen. Jones noted in a post over at Pride In Utah, "This is an abrupt about-face on everything she has told me, and I would like to know what has caused her to all of a sudden change her mind? A legislator is not just a representative of the people, a legislator is supposed to be a leader. She is supposed to lead the people of her district into a better future.”
Check out the video below of State Sen. Jones defending her vote to limit the rights of same-sex couples raising children. Could be straight out of the mouths of Michele Bachmann or Mike Huckabee, but instead comes from a leading Democrat in Utah who was up until now considered a friend of the LGBT community. For shame, State Sen. Jones.

petition text -

Dear State Sen. Jones,
I recently became aware of your vote in the Utah State Senate against a bill that would have allowed second parent adoption rights to same-sex couples raising children in the state of Utah. For years, you have built up a reputation as a lawmaker who was considered an ally to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But given your vote on this issue, I have to seriously question your commitment to civil rights for the LGBT people living in your district.

Worse, I became aware of a town hall you held, where you defended your vote by saying that your district is too conservative for you to support the right of same-sex couples to raise children. That type of reaction shows a complete lack of leadership on your part, and shows that you're willing to allow bigotry and discrimination to thrive, rather than stand up on principle for equal rights for same-sex couples.

I always believed that you were an advocate for equal rights, and am deeply disappointed in your vote, and your justification for your vote. You have essentially said that same-sex couples don't deserve the right to raise children in the state of Utah (or at least be afforded the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexual parents receive in the state). Disappointing, to say the least.

I urge you to reconsider your vote on this issue, and come out strongly in favor of second parent adoption rights. You may be personally against same-sex marriage, but this vote isn't about marriage. It's about recognizing that families come in different shapes and sizes, and that all parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by the state of Utah.

Thanks for your time.
[Your name]

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