Tag Archives: Utah

Progress: Salt Lake City Elects First Openly Gay Female Mayor

Former lawmaker Jackie Biskupski has become the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City, the capital of the conservative state, Utah.

The victory marks another milestone for LGBT people in Utah who have made major strides in recent years.


Today is not just about making history. It is about people. It is about affecting change.”

Her supporters cheered when the results were read at an elections canvass meeting.

Two-term incumbent Ralph Becker showed no reaction and later congratulated Biskupski and vowed to work with her to ensure a smooth transition.

Official election results showed Biskupski won 52 percent of the votes to defeat Becker.

Talking to reporters, Becker said.

Serving as mayor of Salt Lake City has been the richest working experience of my life.”

Salt Lake City voters also elected Derek Kitchen, who became the second gay member of the City Council.


He and his husband, Moudi Sbeity, were one of three couples who sued to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

In the last few weeks, Utah has seen several setbacks to the LGBT community.

Last weeks a judge ordered a foster child to be removed from a lesbian couple and placed with a heterosexual couple. The judge cited the child’s well-being as the reason for his order.

The ruling set off a firestorm around the world. The judge quickly reversed his decision and took himself off the case.

Days earlier, the Salt Lake City-based Mormon church issued new rules targeting gay members and their children, prompting widespread backlash. The new policy bans baptisms for children of gay parents until the kids turn 18 and disavow same-sex relationships.

Earlier this year, the church endorsed a statewide anti-discrimination law that protected gay and transgender people from discrimination in housing and the workplace.

Biskupski said one of her goals as mayor is to meet with church leaders and discuss the new rules.

Back in 1998, when Biskupski became Utah’s first openly gay lawmaker – some of her Mormon colleagues and conservative Legislature wouldn’t shake her hand.

Asked about her win in light of the recent controversies, Biskupski said,

It’s 2015, and we’ve come a long way from, gosh, when I first got elected.”

Salt Lake City is a liberal island in the state where no Republican has been elected mayor in four decades.

Judge Rules That Utah Must Recognise Lesbian Couple as Joint Mothers on Birth Certificate

On Wednesday a federal judge ordered the state of Utah to list the names of a lesbian couple on a birth certificate of their new baby. Lawyers say the ruling is the first of its kind since the U.S. Supreme Court legalised gay.


U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said the assisted reproduction case wasn’t hard to decide.

The state has failed to demonstrate any legitimate reason, actually any reason at all, for not treating a female spouse in a same-sex marriage the same as a male spouse in an opposite-sex marriage.”

Angie and Kami Roe of West Jordan said in their lawsuit on the issue that the state should treat wedded lesbian couples the same as heterosexual couples who use sperm donors to have children.

State law automatically recognises a husband who agrees to assisted reproduction as a father, but the Utah attorney general’s office contended that doesn’t extend to same-sex couples because child bearing is legally different from marriage.

State attorneys wrote in court documents

It is a fact that a non-biologically related female spouse can never be the biological father of a child. It is a biological impossibility for a woman who does not give birth to a child to establish paternity of a child through the act of birth.”

Parker Douglas with the Utah attorney general’s office said Wednesday that listing non-biological parents on a birth certificate could throw off state record-keeping and disrupt the ability of authorities to identify public health trends.

The judge, however, pointed out that the same problem could apply when married heterosexual couples use sperm donors.

Douglas declined to comment on whether the state would appeal the ruling.

The Roes sued after hospital staff members refused to take their birth certificate paperwork shortly after Kami Roe gave birth in February. Utah officials told the couple that one mother must adopt the baby as a step-parent, a process the Roes say is costly, invasive and unfair.

The ruling requires Utah to declare married lesbian parents to be legal moms from birth, but it doesn’t apply to male same-sex couples because they typically use a surrogate.

Similar cases have come up in Iowa and Arkansas, said family law expert Douglas NeJamie. He expects to see more, especially in states that had sought to keep laws banning same-sex marriage on the books. Utah spent $1.2 million to defend its ban on same-sex marriage, state officials have said.

Many states have similar laws governing artificial insemination that previously had not applied to same-sex unions because the rules were specific to married couples, said NeJamie, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This is an easy way to actually try and discriminate against same-sex couples.”

The Utah case could have an effect on other pending cases, though the parental rights of same-sex couples will depend on what state laws are already on the books for heterosexual couples, he said.

Lesbian Couple Sues Utah for Legal Recognition as Child’s Parents

A married lesbian couple filed a lawsuit this week to force the Utah vital records office to recognise them as the legal parents of their child.

The ACLU of Utah and the national ACLU LGBT Project filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of Angie and Kami Roe, who seek to both be recognised as parents to their daughter, Lucy.

Under the state’s assisted reproduction law, the husband of a woman who conceives with donated sperm is automatically recognised as the child’s parent. But because Angie is Kami’s wife instead of her husband, the State Office of Vital Records and Statistics refuses to recognise Angie as Lucy’s parent, according to the ACLU.

The office told the couple that they must go through an expensive and invasive step-parent adoption process to become Lucy’s legal parents, the ACLU says. They argue in the lawsuit that the office’s refusal to recognise female spouses as parents violates their right to equal protection.

Angie Roe said in a news release.

Kami and I should not have to go through a time-consuming legal procedure to give our daughter the protection of having two legal parents. All we are asking is to be treated the same way that other married couples are already treated under state law.”

The lawsuit names Utah Department of Health executive director David Patton and vital statistics office director Richard Oborn as defendants.

According to health department spokesman Tom Hudachko…

While we have not had the opportunity to review today’s filing, we have been working for several months with both the ACLU and the plaintiffs in an attempt to reach a solution. Our hope is to resolve the issue at hand in a manner that serves the best interest of all parties,”

Leah Farrell, ACLU of Utah attorney, said in light of cases such as Kitchen v. Herbert, which make clear that Utah must extend the same rights in marriage to all couples, the state’s attempt to apply the assisted reproduction law differently for male and female spouses is untenable and harmful.

The Roes have also asked the court for a preliminary injunction requiring the vital records office to recognize Kami Roe as Lucy’s parent while the case is being argued.


Utah Lifts Stay on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples

Despite same-sex marriage getting most of the headlines, there are a handful of other issues that affect the lives of LGBT families. Most notably, same-sex adoption, as the argument from those against it is no longer ‘gay people are wrong’ and is now ‘gay people shouldn’t have the right to raise families’.

And this is a common line from the anti-gay camp, with baseless claims about the lack of a father or mother figure being detrimental to children often being thrown around. While such ideas are clearly ludicrous, there’s also evidence to support the fact that children with lesbian parents have both a higher self-esteem and lower conduct problems.

Yet, despite there being some very good reasons to let adoptions by same-sex couples go ahead, plenty still do their bit to stop them. That’s what happened in Utah earlier this year but after a new ruling, same-sex parent adoptions in the state can now continue.

The original stay on adoptions by same-sex couples was issued by Republican state attorney general Sean Reyes back in May. Whilst there didn’t appear to be any good reasoning for it, the stay affected the lives of over 1,300 couples who legally married during a brief, 17-day period of marriage equality in the state and were now looking to start a family.

Under Utah law, there are no second-parent adoptions. This means that if one parent gave birth to the child (or was their biological parent), then because of that law the other parent would be unable to adopt the child and would therefore have no legal rights.

However, there was a surprising turnaround when Reyes recently changed his mind, asking for the stay that he initially put in place to be lifted. While the move can be categorised as ‘flip-flopping’ or just as a genuine change of heart, many are attributing the decision to the Supreme Court ruling on October 6th that legalised same-sex marriage in the state.

As a result, Utah is now one step closer to total equality which is good news that cannot be argued with.