(KCPW News) The Common Ground Initiative launched by a group of Utah lawmakers and gay rights advocacy group Equality Utah aims to extend protection of the law to gay individuals and couples in the state when it comes to discrimination in housing and employment and in wrongful death suits. It also seeks to allow the domestic partners of state employees access to their partners' health insurance, create a statewide domestic partnership registry, and modify Utah's Constitutional Amendment 3, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Equality Utah says this initiative is not about allowing gay marriage in the state, and that these protections are entirely separate. And they contend that because of Amendment 3, this in no way could lead to the legalization of gay marriage in Utah.
But conservative think tank the Sutherland Institute believes that is exactly the intent, and that by extending these protections, the state would be setting itself up for a lawsuit that would allow the courts to legalize gay marriage. In fact, Sutherland is launching a counter initiative, called the Sacred Ground initiative, to fight it. What is the think tank's rationale for wanting to deny some of the rights straight couples enjoy to gay couples? Joining the show to answer that question is Bill Duncan, director of the institute's Center for Family and Society, and Stan Rasmussen, public affairs manager.