(KCPW News) The first of a handful of bills to expand rights for same-sex couples failed in the legislature's Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee yesterday. The bill would give a person that can prove an economically dependent relationship the right to sue over wrongful death. Stan Rasmussen with the Sutherland Institute claimed the bill would start Utah down the path of changing the definition of marriage.
"We simply do not share common ground in chipping away at the definition of marriage. SB 32 will begin the process in Utah. While SB 32 is a stand-alone bill, it is not a stand alone initiative. So called wrongful death benefits can be handled through private contract and because it can be handled through private contract a marriage like legal remedy is not needed," Rasmussen said.
However, bill sponsor Senator Scott McCoy said the marriage debate has already been fought, and this bill is about an economic relationship, not a sexual relationship. He says the bill was narrowly drafted, and gives precedence to a spouse, parents, or children in a wrongful death suit.
"So I would argue that amendment three actually serves as the bulwark against that slippery slope. We should be confident that because amendment three exists we can do measures like this, without fear of treading on or diluting, or emasculating the rather strong definition and policy regarding marriage we have in the state of Utah," McCoy said.
The committee also discussed the separation of Church and state after the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was mentioned. A few Senators told the audience that the Church's stance carries no weight with legislators.