State representatives in Utah voted Tuesday to endorse a constitutional change banning gay marriage, saying it was necessary to fight off changing social norms. Legislators in the Utah house of representatives and senate have already sent the governor the Marriage Recognition Policy, which would put the gay marriage ban in state law. But the Utah house took that one step farther Tuesday, mustering a two-thirds vote to send voters a proposed amendment to Utah's Constitution.
The constitutional provision, saying "marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman," passed the House on a 56-16 vote. If approved by the Utah senate and voters this November, it would take effect in January. Three House Democrats voted for the measure, while one Republican joined the opposition: Rep. Morgan Philpot said he didn't think the measure could be explained as anything but discriminatory.
Other Republicans said it was necessary to resist court rulings and legislative actions in other states that could force Utah to recognize same-sex unions they oppose on moral grounds. "I am not telling you that God does not love people who are gay. God loves gays as well as anyone else, but we have a right to declare what is nature's laws," said Rep. David Ure.
Democrats said banning gay marriages wouldn't make this country stronger. "I've heard it said over and again: This is about civilization, to protect the downfall of our civilization," said Rep. David Litvak. "I'm struggling. How is my life, my marriage, going to be made more stable or stronger by this amendment?" Some legislators are trying to change the constitution for the wrong reason, said Rep. Scott Daniels, a former state district judge. He said the constitution was meant to limit government power, not individual liberty. "An individual can't violate the constitution; only the government can," said Daniels, a member of the Utah constitutional revision commission, which never got a chance to review the legislative proposal.