Utah ‘s Six “Common Ground” Initiatives

We felt a sense of relief and gratitude for those who stood strong in defense of marriage in California .  That relief has been short-lived with the announcement of what Utah “gay rights” advocates are now calling the “Common Ground Initiative” – a package of six policies designed, ultimately, to redefine marriage in our state.  Utahns are now the target of a clever marketing campaign that is presented as a non-threatening effort to find “common ground.”  Like our friends and families in California , it’s now our turn to Stand Up to Protect Marriage here in Utah.

We invite responsible citizens to join with Sutherland Institute on Thursday evening, February 5, 2009, for State of the Union II: The Challenge to Family and Freedom.  The event will be held at the Show Barn at Thanksgiving Point, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Speakers will include Sutherland President Paul Mero, LaVar Christensen, primary author of Utah ‘s Constitutional Amendment in support of traditional marriage, and Lauralyn B. Swim, Sutherland benefactor and former member of the Young Women General Board of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The program is free to the public, but you must RSVP – online, by calling (801) 355-1272, or by sending an email to si@suthelandinstitute.org, today.

Please forward this e-mail to your friends, neighbors, family, and colleagues.  This is an important event.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Click here to print a PDF version of the invitation.  Click here for an informational video on State of the Union II: The Challenge to Family and Freedom.

“Common Ground” Facts You Should Know:

The Institute believes it is important for Utahns to be aware that activists are attempting to promote tolerance and compromise through the “Common Ground Initiative” – a package of six policies (several already have been introduced as bills) designed to increase the rights of same-sex couples in Utah.  This “Common Ground Initiative” has two primary objectives: 1) to place the ambiguous term “sexual orientation” into Utah law, and 2) to overturn the Utah Constitutional Amendment in support of traditional marriage.  The purpose of this initiative is to slowly erode the purview of legal marriage.  This strategy of “slow erosion” was the game plan in California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut – and now it’s in play for Utah .

The ploy is simple to understand: pass seemingly innocuous laws extending “fair” and “equal” treatment to unmarried persons and then ask a friendly court to do the rest.

To illustrate this point, three of the six “Common Ground” objectives do not require new laws.  Those three demands – hospital visitation, inheritance beneficiary status, and domestic partnership agreements – are already legal under private contract between unmarried persons, whatever their sexual behaviors.

In contrast, two of the six “Common Ground” goals would require new laws.  These proposed policies – dealing with anti-discrimination laws in the workplace and in housing – would require that the term “sexual orientation” be added to the list of protected classes of people, just as race and religion.  Of course, the problem here is that the term “sexual orientation” has no innate meaning (in contrast with ‘race’, which does) and no historic or community value (such as ‘religion’) and would require the Utah State Legislature to fabricate its definition.  In other words, adding the term “sexual orientation” to Utah law, as demanded in the “Common Ground Initiative,” would give lawyers standing to attack employers and property owners.

Finally, one of the six “Common Ground” initiatives would require Utahns to amend the State Constitution.  What gay activists cleverly call a “clarification of Amendment 3” only paves the way for “gay marriage” in Utah .  This demand is the least talked about goal in the “Common Ground Initiative.”  The Utah State Constitution, Article 1, Section 29, states,

  1. Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.
  2. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a  marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.

Gay activists and their supporters want to strike Part 2 of the amendment.  Why?  Because they need the Utah State Legislature to be able to grant marriage “benefits” to homosexuals so that the Utah Supreme Court could one day follow the example of the high courts in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut in saying, “If you already treat homosexual relationships like a marriage, through the extension of marriage benefits, why not just call those relationships a marriage?”  Hence, Utah courts would be at liberty to strike down Part 1 of the amendment!

Clearly, the ultimate goal of the “Common Ground Initiative” is “gay marriage.”  They will take their “common ground” incrementally until that singular goal is achieved.  Utahns will have to decide if “common ground” is good enough, or if “Sacred Ground” is worth fighting for.

Senate Committee Defeats First of Six Common Ground Bills

On Tuesday, January 27, Stan Rasmussen, public affairs manager for Sutherland Institute, and LaVar Christensen, a member of the Institute’s board of trustees and primary author of Utah ‘s Constitutional Amendment on marriage, testified before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee.  Both Rasmussen and Christensen testified against Senate Bill 32, Wrongful Death Amendments.

The bill – drafted to allow same-sex couples, who are already named in a will, access to wrongful-death court action in the event of a tragedy – was defeated by the committee on a vote of 4-2.

“The Sutherland Institute opposes this bill and all other bills in the package known as the ‘Common Ground Initiative,'” Rasmussen said in his testimony.  “We simply do not share common ground in chipping away at the definition of marriage.  SB32 will begin this process in Utah – a process that has been implemented in California , Massachusetts, and Connecticut – to extend benefits to unmarried persons, ultimately, to allow our courts to do what our State Legislature is reluctant to do – “redefine marriage.”

Rasmussen’s testimony outlined non-negotiable standards for sound public policy and emphasized that SB 32 did not meet those standards. He said any policy must be in complete conformity with Utah ‘s marriage amendment, must not threaten the integrity of the natural family, and must not threaten the freedom of religious groups and individuals to practice their beliefs without interference.

“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,” he continued.  “There has been no attempt to determine the need for this law – no real attempt to determine how unmarried persons have been unjustly treated in legal contractual arrangements, except in theory.