This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's historic ruling in 2013 striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, the Legislature, the attorney general and the governor sprang into action, hiring outside lawyers for appeals and preparing legislation to protect religious liberties from gay rights.
Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the matter, some of the more strident same-sex marriage opponents can't let it go.
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, seemed to have pulled a fast one earlier in the recent legislative session when he slipped a subtle amendment into a seemingly mundane measure that merely clarified who could be listed as joint tenants for tax purposes.
The bill had passed the Senate and was in the House Judiciary Committee when Christensen added an amendment that changed the wording of legitimate joint tenants from a husband and wife or married couples, to just husband and wife.
That amounted to a sneaky way of eliminating same-sex couples from being legitimate joint tenants.
The tweaked bill passed the House and was sent back to the Senate on the session's last night for approval.
It hit the Senate floor for a roll-call vote at 11:57 p.m. and seemed on its way to passage when Sen. Jim Dabakis' turn to voice his vote came.
The Salt Lake City Democrat, who is the only openly gay member of the Legislature, cleared his throat. He then sneezed and seemed to fumble his words a bit and ponder his vote. When Senate leaders realized his stall tactics, they tried to skip him to continue voting. But it was too late. The clock struck midnight, the session was over and the bill perished.
Free speech for some • To some of our esteemed "constitutional experts" in the Utah Legislature, the First Amendment right to free speech is conditional.
Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, was one of the more devoted supporters of Rocky Mountain Power's legislative push to shift the risk of future projects more to the ratepayers and away from shareholders.
During a House Public Utilities and Technology Committee hearing, Ivory, the panel's chairman, held those testifying against the bill to a strict time limit, interrupting their remarks with arguments and rebukes that cut their speaking time even more.
When a similar time-limit burden was imposed on Ivory several years ago, he sued.
Before he joined the Legislature, Ivory testified at a public hearing before the West Jordan City Council against a proposed zoning change near a city park.
Each speaker was given a three-minute limit, which is typical in such hearings. But when Ivory's time expired, he wouldn't quit. He ignored several requests to stop until security finally escorted from the hearing.
He sued the city on grounds his constitutional rights to free speech were violated. When he lost in state court, he turned to federal court. When he failed there, he appealed. When that appeal fell short, he appealed again. The case dragged on for several years, costing the city tens of thousands of dollars. West Jordan finally settled for $10,000 to stop the financial bleeding from Ivory's trivial lawsuit.
Hypocrisy at the Utah Legislature? Who would have guessed?
Now, kids • Ivory was in the middle of a legislative spat near the session's end when he declared on the House floor that a bill he was supporting passed unanimously.
House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, took umbrage because the measure had received four "no" votes all from Democrats.
King apparently was frustrated at the culture on Capitol Hill that ignores the fact that Democrats however small in number do exist.
Responding to King's annoyance, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, approached the Democrat and asked, "Who peed in your Cheerios?"
You see, to guys like Noel that's funny.
King told Noel, "Fudge on you," or words to that effect.
That upset Noel and the two squared off, screaming on the House floor. They had to be separated by House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, who is bigger than both of them.