A Utah Republican state lawmaker suggested this week that same-sex marriages in the state be known as “pairages” to keep them separate and distinct from heterosexual marriages.
According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the alternate wording was just one of the measures in a bill sponsored by state Rep. Kraig Powell (R) designed to throw obstacles in the path of statewide marriage equality.
Conservatives nationwide are scrambling to fight same-sex marriage on the state level after Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to take on a number of marriage equality cases. By deciding to let lower-court rulings stand, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in a number of states, including Utah.
Powell filed his bill within hours of the Court’s decision. The Heber City Republican said that a uniform set of state laws regarding same-sex marriage could take years to finalize.
For instance, he said, “Utah code doesn’t have a chapter heading called ‘Marriage.’ It is actually titled ‘Husband and Wife,’ and all the statutes on marriage refer to ‘husband and wife.’ So we have a lot of work to revise statutes, and have many details to decide.”
The Court’s decision, Powell said, “kick[ed] the ball back to state legislatures” to define marriage, which could lead, he said, “to what can be many years of tinkering with marriage laws.”
Democratic state Sen. Jim Debakis — who is gay and married — warned that state lawmakers should not take the Court’s decision as a mandate to undermine the rights of same-sex couples at the state level.
“Anyone who is saying we can twist the wording of state law into anything other than full complete equal marriage is going to be in for serious disappointment,” he said.
“Nitpicking is not going to be successful,” he said. “Clearly there is a number of issues that need to be worked out. But there is a framework there, and the framework is for equality.”