Who ever would have guessed that Republican politicians in Utah, of all places, would be making decisions, at least seemingly in part, simply in order to stick it to state-level right-wing groups like the Eagle Forum?
As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, Utah’s Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert is “expected to be sworn in as Utah’s 17th governor on Aug, 11, assuming Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is confirmed by the Senate this week to be U.S. ambassador to China. “
As such, Herbert had to choose someone to fill the Lieutenant Governor’s position once he becomes Governor and he has selected Sen. Greg Bell – and he reportedly did so in response to “an opposition campaign from the Utah Eagle Forum that tried to cast Bell as too liberal”:
In the past several days, the conservative Eagle Forum tried to rally its members to pressure Herbert to bypass Bell because they objected to his moderate position on same-sex partnerships. But [Senate President Michael] Waddoups said that may have forced Herbert to pick Bell, so he didn’t appear to be caving to the conservative pressure.
“You’ve got the [Eagle Forum President] Gayle Ruzicka comments out there,” Waddoups said, “that I think makes it hard for Gary to pick someone more conservative, even if he wanted to.”
In the 2005 Legislature, Bell sponsored a Huntsman-backed bill that would have allowed unmarried partners, including gay couples, to enter into contracts regarding property ownership and health matters. The bill failed.
And, in the 2008 session, Bell helped negotiate a compromise that enabled Salt Lake City to keep a registry — albeit under a new name — for domestic partnerships.
Those stances incurred the wrath of Ruzicka’s group, which has been calling and e-mailing Herbert’s office urging him not to pick Bell.
Of course, considering that Ruzicka and her group came rallying to the defense of Utah state Senator Chris Buttars after his diatribe comparing gays to Islamic radicals and America to Sodom and Gomorrah while proclaiming that gays have no morals and that acceptance of their lifestyle will bring about the destruction of the nation, it’s easy to see why Herbert might be eager to avoid being seen as doing their bidding.