Don Gale: For better government, Utah should elect more women

Our male-dominated Legislature has made many bad decisions.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Onlookers fill the gallery of the House Chamber as the Utah Legislature voted to override Gov. Spencer Cox’s veto of HB11, which bars transgender girls from participating in school sports matching their gender identities, in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 25, 2022.

Utah voters should elect more women to the Legislature and other government positions – not to achieve some sort of gender equality but because women would surely do a better job of serving the state and its citizens. Consider what has happened already at a Utah Legislature dominated by self-serving males.

They passed veto-proof school voucher legislation by calling tax money shifted to private schools “scholarships.” In doing so, they ignored their own rules about how legislation should be published, debated and considered over time. Yes, lawmakers have an option to “suspend” the rules, as this group chose to do, but the option is generally considered an emergency option for use when needs are urgent and time is short. They ignored the desire of a majority of citizens who voted against vouchers in a recent referendum.

Mostly male lawmakers also made it almost impossible for another referendum about vouchers or “scholarships” to take place. And, in a blatantly hypocritical maneuver, they tied the unpopular voucher legislation to much needed and widely supported pay increases for teachers. (No doubt, much of the tax-funded “scholarship” money will end up in the hands of polygamy cults and other antisocial extremists.)

Surely, female legislators would be more concerned about the wishes of their constituents.

A couple of years ago, the mostly male Legislature ignored the voice of the people about how voting district boundaries should be determined. A citizens organization of diverse and well-informed Utahns offered balanced alternatives. But instead of drawing boundaries based on interests of voters, selfish legislators drew lines based on political considerations. Their gerrymandering left many Utahns without a voice during elections.

Surely, thoughtful women would care more about the democratic future of the state and its residents.

This year, male legislators who think primarily in simplistic male chauvinist terms pushed through legislation to restrict young residents and their parents from seeking medical treatment for genetically based gender conflicts. In doing so, insensitive lawmakers defied modern scientific wisdom and long-standing moral values based on the admonition to “Love your neighbor.”

Surely, women would be more considerate about troubled young people and their need for identity.

Totally inexperienced male malefactors who have never known the discomfort of child-bearing, the pain of childbirth, the trauma of miscarriage or the responsibility of feeding and bonding with a newborn child passed laws to restrict decision-making for women who face those inherently non-male challenges. In addition, they changed long-standing rules of judicial injunction, not because current rules are inadequate, but because they object to judicial wisdom being applied to abortion laws.

Surely, women legislators would be better informed about such things than their male counterparts.

Additional examples of narrow-minded legislation abound — from penny-ante tax reduction to life-saving gun control — but space here is limited.

The point is that it’s time for a change in the way Utah makes and enforces laws that govern citizen behavior. In the past, voters relied on political balance to moderate extremes. That appears to be out of the question among today’s narrow-minded office holders on capitol hill.

In response, voters must vote for lawmakers who care about their constituents, who believe in democracy, who have compassion for youth, and who are well-informed about issues.

That means voters must elect more women.

Don Gale.

Utah journalist Don Gale has covered the Legislature long enough to remember when it was more balanced, when lawmakers talked to one another regardless of party, when they believed in compromise, and when they cared more about the state and its people than about selfish ideology.