OPINION – There’s hypocrisy in the latest announcement from the Utah Attorney General’s office.
John Swallow, the state’s top law enforcement official, announced last Friday that Utah would join more than a dozen other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold state and federal laws that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The beleaguered Swallow, who is also fending off accusations that he served basically as a bag man between Jeremy Johnson, a lobbyist friend and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in an alleged scheme to convince the Federal Trade Commission to drop fraud charges against Johnson, said the state has signed on to join the fight to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn lower court rulings that invalidated California’s Proposition 8 and the U.S. Congress Defense of Marriage Act.
Prop 8, of course, banned gay marriage in the Golden State in 2008 and DOMA was enacted in 1996 as a definition of who is eligible to receive partnership benefits from the feds.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional last year. Four federal courts and two courts of appeal have struck down DOMA.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on both issues in March, with a ruling expected in June.
“Traditional marriage is the bedrock foundation for families and society,” Swallow said in a press release Friday. “As part of my promise to protect Utah families, we will fight to make sure traditional marriage is protected and preserved.”
Swallow’s argument would be better based if it was consistent with his professed morality.
But there are holes in his bucket.
While still campaigning for the Attorney General position, he made it very clear that he would continue his predecessor Mark Shurtleff’s policy of not enforcing Utah’s laws on bigamy/polygamy, which are clearly not in line with his proclaimed pledge to “fight to make sure traditional marriage is protected and preserved.” If he truly believes that traditional marriage is between one man and one woman, as it is being defined in the Bible Belt and elsewhere, how can he ignore violations of the state’s polygamy statute?
While his words helped sweep him into office with nearly 65 percent of the vote last November, they do not constitute clear thinking.
To put it bluntly, he can’t have it both ways. He cannot, in line with a rational thought process, say he will turn a blind eye to polygamy while insisting that “traditional marriage is the bedrock foundation for families and society.”
It is also obvious that in his zeal to further discriminate against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community he forgot his policy regarding polygamy, or at least has yet to come up with why he feels one should be banned at all costs and the other overlooked.
Swallow’s decision is also tainted because it came just days after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it, too, was filing similar papers.
According to a report by Fox 13-TV in Salt Lake City, briefs were drafted by attorneys for the LDS Church here in Utah and filed Jan. 29 before the Supreme Court on behalf of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Romanian-American Evangelical Alliance of North America, Truth in Action Ministries, and the Mormon church.
“Our theological perspectives, though often differing, converge to support the proposition that the traditional, opposite-sex definition of marriage in the civil law is not only constitutional but essential to the welfare of families, children, and society,” Von Keetch of the Utah-based firm Kirton McConkie, wrote in the DOMA brief.
It begs the old “chicken and egg,” question: Which came first, the church or state position? Coincidence? I am doubtful. Coincidence is the realm of storytellers, real life is seldom coincidental.
It is brain-numbing to try to understand the mindset that would deny basic human rights to any individual, whether expressed through religion or politics. It also strains credulity to once again witness the Attorney General’s continued lack of good judgment.
On one hand, he has elected to ignore the state laws on bigamy/polygamy, even though there is ample evidence of the sexual abuse of children; the loss of women’s rights in a semi-cloistered community; government fraud and abuse in the form of “bleeding the beast;” the exploitation of children used to work in the fields and businesses instead of pursuing a legitimate education; and many other egregious offenses that should be offensive to the sensibilities of the state.
On the other hand, he has elected to discriminate against those who seek to pursue legal approval of their monogamous relationships; pay their taxes; work productively within society; and simply live and work freely without fear of losing their livelihood or a roof over their head because of their sexual orientation.
This lack of cogent, well-thought-out governance by our Attorney General is, well, hard to swallow.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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