Published February 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Dinosaur still walking, talking
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Less than a year after his racially charged "black baby" comments, Utah Senate bad boy Chris Buttars' battle with foot-in-mouth disease continues, with no cure in sight.

Same-sex relationships are "abominations," the West Jordan Republican told an interviewer filming a documentary about the activism surrounding the LDS Church-backed Proposition 8, a gay-marriage ban that was approved by California voters last fall.

The gay-rights movement, Buttars said, is "probably the greatest threat to America." He likened gay activists to Muslim "radicals." The lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community, he said, seeks "superiority," not equality.

We could, with ease, debunk Buttars' statements. But they're too ridiculous to warrant a direct response.

And we could join in the call by a gay-rights advocacy group for his resignation. But Buttars won't resign. His re-election last fall, at least in his mind, vindicates his bigotry.

Or we could urge the Senate to discipline its wayward son. But Senate President Michael Waddoups has already defended Buttars, ridiculously portraying him as the victim of an unscrupulous filmmaker. Besides, Buttars has said equally hateful things in the past without censure.

Or we could demand that the senator apologize. But even if he did, one would have to question his sincerity.

And we could encourage Buttars to change his ways. But that's like asking him to sing odes to Charles Darwin.

Buttars is what he is: an embarrassment to the state of Utah, and, increasingly, a dinosaur.

When Buttars opens his mouth, it turns heads. It also changes minds, driving some conservatives toward the middle and some moderates to the left. He is, in our opinion, the best spokesperson that Utah's LGBT community has ever had, galvanizing their righteous efforts to achieve not superiority, but equality.

Those efforts are gaining traction. It's evident in the opinion polls that show the public favored a package of gay rights bills defeated in the Legislature, everything from protections against discrimination in housing and employment to rights of inheritance and medical visitation. And you can see it at the governor's mansion, where Gov. Jon Huntsman endorsed civil unions and his public approval ratings didn't budge. And at LDS Church headquarters, where officials are not opposed to certain rights for same-sex couples.

Buttars will never change. But Utah will. It's already happening. And the momentum will grow, as small-minded men like Chris Buttars help move things along.

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