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Utah Gov: I'll
Back Gay Rights Bills

Utah Gov: I'll
Back Gay Rights Bills

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. says he would support a legislative effort to provide some rights to gay and transgender individuals.

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. says he would support a legislative effort to provide some rights to gay and transgender individuals.

Huntsman was responding to a pair of Common Ground bills, backed by Equality Utah, the first of which would make it illegal to fire or evict someone for being gay or transgender. The other would establish a domestic partnership registry for inheritance and medical-decision making benefits.

The governor has also stated his support for same-sex civil unions, something opposed by other Republicans and 70% of Utah residents.

"We appreciate that the governor sees these are common-sense solutions to problems that Utahans are facing," Will Carlson, Equality Utah's public policy manager, told The Salt Lake Tribune Monday. "We'll take all the help we can get."

Rep. Jackie Biskupski, a supporter of the Common Ground Initiative, was pleased by the news that Huntsman supports civil unions. "I wish the rest of the state felt the same way," said Biskupski, who was Utah's frst openly gay state legislator. "That's definitely a door to walk through."

Other politicians were also enthusiastic about Hunstman's stance. Scott McCoy, Utah's only openly gay state senator, told the Associated Press that he was "delighted" about the governor's decision. "I think Gov. Huntsman made his statements and took his position on civil unions because he thinks it's right, and that makes him more of a leader than a politician," he said.

It is unlikely, however, that Huntsman's support will help pass gay rights bills under the current conservative legislature. His decision has been met with criticism, as expected.

"I'm very disappointed in the governor's stance. Civil union is really tantamount to marriage," Sen. Greg Bell told the Associated Press. "It's gay marriage light."

The governor's support for civil unions was not made public until this week, when a Huntsman spokeswoman told the Tribune he supports civil unions and many of the ideas in the Common Ground Initiative. (Rhiza Dizon, Advocate.com)

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