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Bill that could
ban GSAs passes in Utah

Bill that could
ban GSAs passes in Utah

Buttars

Following an emotionally charged debate in the Utah senate on Wednesday, a bill sponsored by Republican senator Chris Buttars (pictured) that many gay rights advocates fear will ban all gay-straight alliance clubs in Utah easily passed.

A bill that many gay rights advocates fear will ban all gay-straight alliance clubs in Utah passed the state senate on Wednesday, following an emotionally charged debate among those for and against the measure. But the bill's sponsor, Republican senator Chris Buttars, who has repeatedly denounced homosexuality and gay student clubs, claimed the bill would not shut down any school club, reports KUTV in Salt Lake City. However, the language of Senate Bill 97 would seemingly justify the banning of GSAs in public schools by directing schools to reject clubs or deny their use of school buildings if their charter or activities would encourage criminal conduct, promote bigotry, or involve human sexuality.

"We're not declaring any club that's out there unlawful,'' Buttars said. "What we have done is present an outline of criteria that schools can use to evaluate [clubs] of all sorts." That criteria is needed, Buttars said, so that the state's 40 school districts can have a consistent policy in state law, leaving districts free to make decisions about club charters without fear of being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Buttars's bill passed on a vote of 18-11, with three Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats against the bill. It will now be considered by the house, where a similar bill has been introduced by Republican representative Aaron Tilton. House Bill 393 was endorsed last week by a committee and awaits a floor debate. Buttars's bill was amended before the senate vote to more closely align with Tilton's proposal by changing language that Utah's attorney general said would run afoul of federal law.

In arguing for the student club bill, Buttars has focused on GSAs. In committee earlier this week and on the senate floor Wednesday, he said GSAs are a recruiting tool for "homosexuals" and are tearing down the moral pillars of society. (Advocate.com)

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