Tribune Editorial: The Legislature should leave the surrogacy law alone

In this Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 photo, Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore looks on from the Senate floor at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Surprisingly, maddeningly, the Utah Legislature is still fighting gay marriage.

At least one legislator is. Sen. Lyle Hillyard introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal a 2005 law that allowed Utah couples to have children through surrogacy. Hillyard was the sponsor of the 2005 law.

Dozens of Utahns shared their surrogacy stories and asked a legislative committee to block the bill. Lisa Candie Barlow told the committee she is currently 14 weeks pregnant as a surrogate for her brother and her brother’s wife. She told the committee, “I am grateful to help give the gift of life for this beloved baby. Surrogacy should be an option for all couples struggling with infertility.”

Abby Cox, wife of Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, also testified at the hearing about her experience as a surrogate for her sister-in-law, who is unable to have children. Cox explained that families “have gone through more than we can imagine to get to the point of contemplating surrogacy. To not allow them that protection, to be able to have that going forward, I think would be a huge mistake.”

While the hearing seemed to focus on heterosexual couples with fertility troubles, Hillyard’s objection to the law is its equal application to gay couples.

The Utah Supreme Court is currently deciding a case that questions the language of the surrogacy law because it requires that before a court will approve a surrogacy contract, a “mother” must provide medical evidence she is unable to have children. In the case of two married men, there is no mother.

We argued before that the statute is discriminatory as applied to men. Repealing the law in a direct effort to prohibit two married men from using a surrogacy contract is just as discriminatory.

Hillyard said that when the 2005 bill faced opposition in the House, he made a promise that “if the courts or people started doing different things … I would seek to have it repealed.” Presumably, the “different things” includes two gay men using surrogacy to conceive.

Hillyard argued that “gay marriage was not an issue” in 2005. But gay marriage is not an issue today, either. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage is legal. End of story.

The committee voted to table the bill, and the committee chair, Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, said he won’t stand in the way of anyone else experiencing the joys of precious moments with children.

Hopefully Sen. Fillmore will stand by that pledge and let this bill die without the light of another day.