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Utah state legislator introduces bill that would void contracts between gay couples

Thursday, January 27, 2011
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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Representative LaVar Christensen, the man who introduced and passed Utah’s 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage, has resurrected an old enemy of the LGBT community.

LaVar Christensen

Christensen (R-District 48) has reintroduced a bill he tried to pass in 2006 which prohibits same-sex couples from making contractual agreements, such as wills and financial arrangements.

The bill, known in 2006 as HB 304, but now as HB 182, slides in under the generic title “Voiding Transactions Against Public Policy,” and declares “an arrangement, agreement, or transaction that is illegal or against public policy to be void and unenforceable.”

In a 2007 report, the Utah Law Review, commenting on HB 304, wrote:

Representative Christensen is the same legislator who introduced the Utah marriage amendment, the basis for this discussion. Christensen explained the purpose of the bill was to reduce to statute a common law practice which has been around for a century.

He said the main purpose of the bill was to outlaw contracts based on drugs and gambling. However, Christensen’s consistent agenda to curb the expansion of rights to unmarried heterosexual and same-sex couples had many worried about Christensen’s intention.

Terry Kogan, Professor of Lawat the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, spoke against the bill during the session. He stated, “[Christensen] may be trying to undermine the ability of same-sex couples to protect their financial and other interests.”

HB 182′s language is virtually word-for word from the narrowly-defeated 2006 measure, and if passed, would strip even more rights away from the same-sex couples who depend on contractual arrangements, as Utah denies them any of the inherent protections afforded to heterosexual couples.

Same-sex couples in Utah have so few protections in Utah, and must rely on creating legal contracts to protect loved ones in the event of each other’s death.

Christensen’s bill would leave surviving same-sex partners at the mercy of their deceased partner’s family.

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