Buttars' committee kills first gay-rights bill

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The first of a series of gay-rights bills aimed at the 2009 Legislature died in the Senate judiciary committee today

Sen. Scott McCoy's SB 32 would have amended state law so that financial dependents - besides spouses, parents and children - could sue if a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death.

It is part of the four-bill Common Ground Initiative being pushed by Equality Utah to expand legal protections offered to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Utahns.

A standing-room only crowd listened to two hours of testimony for and against the bill before the committee, headed by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, declined, in a 4-2 vote, to send the measure to the Senate floor. Only McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, and his Democratic colleague Ross Romero voted in favor of the bill.

McCoy's measure would have benefited same-sex couples but also other nontraditional households, such as one in which a grandmother relies on a grandson for financial support. Unlike spouses, parents and children, a wrongful-death designee would have to prove a financially dependent relationship with the victim to go to court.

McCoy said he plans to introduce the bill again in the 2010 session.