Monday, March 2, 2009

A Rocky Time in the Rockies

State senators in Utah and Colorado delivered hugely homophobic rants lately. It seems this country is suffering an outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fervor.

In the Utah case, Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, sat down with a documentary filmmaker to discuss the involvement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California's Proposition 8 battle.

Buttars said gay activists are "probably the greatest threat to America going down."

Not the frightening economy, not the two wars America's fighting, not the health care mess. The greatest threat to America is Americans demanding equality. The truth is out. Time for me to admit this gay activist is doing her part to bring America down: I've signed up to bring a town in Idaho, a subdivision in Michigan and a mall in Florida to their knees.

Buttars also said, "What is the morals of a gay person? You can't answer that, because anything goes."

Yes indeed. Today I managed to lie, embezzle, assault and commit arson. All before lunch.

The state senator compared gay activists to Islamic radicals. "Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it's been taken over by the radical side. And the gays are totally taken over by the radical side."

While I've never known a gay activist who wanted to blow up planes, I could suggest the idea at the next meeting. Maybe we could talk some eager young twink into it. Promise him that in the next life--to which we are rushing him--he'll be rewarded with an entire troop of Chippendales dancers.

After a Salt Lake City TV station aired Buttars' comments, people inside and outside the state called for him to resign. Fat chance. He has refused even to issue an apology.

The Utah Senate president, a fellow Republican, removed Buttars as chair of a judicial committee—to keep him from being a distraction, not to punish him. Buttars' colleagues agree with much of what he said. One senator noted Buttars' language was "immoderate," adding, "I don't believe that all gays have no morals whatsoever."

Oh. Goody.

Over in Denver, Colorado state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, morphed into a preacher during debate on a bill extending health benefits to partners of gay state employees.

In a six-minute speech, Renfroe called homosexuality an "abomination" and an "offense to God." He quoted several Bible verses, including that pip from Leviticus that says men who sleep together shall be killed.

He pinched a page from the playbook of Sen. Buttars in the neighboring state, comparing gays not to terrorists but to something similar.

"I'm not saying this (homosexuality) is the only sin that's out there," he explained. "We have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don't make laws making those legal. And we would never think to make murder legal."

So homosexuality and murder are on a par. With apologies to John Denver, I'm experiencing a Colorado Rocky Mountain low.

After the appropriate uproar, Renfroe told the press he didn't mean to suggest that homosexuality and murder were the same. He also said he doesn't advocate punishing gay people.

However, he still holds that all sin, including homosexuality, offends God, and the state shouldn't enact laws condoning any of them. Amen and harumph.

Just when these two state senators have cast a pall over the region, an antidote arrives. Roger Carrier, a straight retired teacher from Salt Lake, was disgusted by the comments of Sen. Buttars. To combat what he feels is growing homophobia among Utah politicians, he's proposed placing a statue of Harvey Milk at the Utah Capitol.

It'll never happen. But Carrier showed a happier attitude in the high altitude.