Buttars’ Comments Continue to Roil Utah Senate

Last week, after Utah state Senator Chris Buttars compared gays to Islamic radicals and America to Sodom and Gomorrah, and said that gays have no morals and that acceptance of their lifestyle will bring about the destruction of the nation, he was stripped of his position as chairman of the Senate’s judiciary committee … but it doesn’t look like that has put the controversy to rest.

Yesterday, the Utah Seante shut down for two hours as Republicans continue to try and figure out what, if anything, to do about Buttars:

The Utah Senate stopped working for about two hours Monday as Republicans privately met to discuss a lawmaker’s recent comments that gay people don’t have morals and that gay activists are among America’s greatest threats.

Not a single bill was debated on the Senate floor Monday morning, increasing the backlog of bills that may never become law simply because lawmakers will run out of time to approve them before the 45-day session ends.

Buttars’ comments and his removal from the judiciary committee have created a rift in the Senate Republican caucus, prompting the private meeting. Senate leaders said Buttars wouldn’t face any more sanctions and that no position was taken on the issue during their meeting.

While Republicans struggle to deal with this, it also looks like Democrats in the state aren’t making it any easier for them:

Utah Senate Democrats on Tuesday called for the ouster of a GOP lawmaker from two additional key committee posts because of his anti-gay comments.

Democrats — outnumbered by Republicans 21 to 8 in the Senate — called Tuesday for additional sanctions, including removal of Buttars from the rules committee, of which he is vice chairman. The rules committee is one of the most powerful in the Legislature because it decides which bills lawmakers will debate.

Democrats also requested that Buttars lose his chairmanship on the health and human services committee, although they didn’t propose he be removed from that panel entirely.

For his part, Buttars remains unrepentant and vows never to resign:

I was disappointed to learn of the Utah State Senate’s censure on Feb. 20, 2009. However, this action will not discourage me from defending marriage from an increasingly vocal and radical segment of the homosexual community.

In recent years, registering opposition to the homosexual agenda has become almost impossible. Political correctness has replaced open and energetic debate. Those who dare to disagree with the homosexual agenda are labeled “haters,” and “bigots,” and are censured by their peers. The media contributes to the problem. Increasingly, individuals with conservative beliefs are targeted by a left-leaning media that uses their position of public trust as a bully pulpit. This pattern of intimidation suppresses free speech.

For the record, I do not agree with the censure I see it as an attempt to shy away from controversy. In particular, I disagree with my removal as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, since my work there is entirely unrelated to my opposition to the homosexual agenda.

Still, I’m a grown man and I can take my knocks. When it comes right down to it, I would rather be censured for doing what I think is right, than be honored by my colleagues for bowing to the pressure of a special interest group that has been allowed to act with impunity.

Thanks to the many citizens who have written and called to express their support. Please know that I’ll live through this to fight another day. In years to come, we’ll all look back at this point in history and see it as a crossroads. I have no intention of resigning.