Rights group opposes bill to keep gays from adoptions

A family is part of a recent Gay Pride parade. A Utah legislator wants to give heterosexual families preference over gays in adopting children in the state. (Wikimedia Commons)

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah gay-rights group is fighting with a conservative state representative over proposed legislation that would give heterosexual couples preference in adoptions.

State Rep. Kraig Powell, a Republican from Heber City, is pushing the measure despite last year’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says any such law would be blatantly unconstitutional.

“I point-blank asked him, ‘Does your piece of legislation give the state the power to privilege heterosexual parents over same-sex parents in both adoption and foster cases?’ At which point he said yes,” he says.

Williams says his group plans to work to keep the bill from passing in the Utah Legislature, but says if it does become law, Equality Utah would immediately file suit to strike it down. Powell did not return phone calls requesting comment on his proposed bill.

Williams says he does not believe Powell has any support for his proposal among legislative leaders, and may be pushing it as a “show bill” for his supporters.

“He’s also facing a primary challenger, and we have a delegate system where you have to win over your delegates in order to win at the convention,” says Williams. “And the delegates can often be more to the extreme right, so I think this is more of a play to them.”

Williams says he believes some conservatives are still angry over a 2015 case in which a Utah judge ordered a foster child taken from a lesbian couple and placed with a heterosexual couple. He later reversed that decision after a public outcry over the case.

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