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Bill to Change Adoption Language to Include Same-Sex Couples Fails

Brian Grimmett

A Democratic state representative’s attempt to change language regarding adoption and foster parenting laws failed to pass out of committee on Wednesday.

House Bill 234 would have swapped the words man and woman for couple or spouse to reflect the legalization of same-sex marriage. Representative Romero insisted the change was a simple administrative update proposed at the request of state agencies like the Utah Department of Child and Family Services.

“Now that same-sex couples in Utah are legally married, they are entitled to the rights and responsibilities of marriage, including the rights to adopt and foster children,” Romero said.

Romero said unless the language is updated to reflect current law, the state risks lawsuits by same-sex married couples. But several lawmakers on the committee disagreed with that assessment. Republican Representative Merrill Nelson told the committee the Supreme Court decision pertains only to the right for gay couples to marry.

“We are not saying they should be barred from foster or adoption placements,” Nelson said. “All we are saying is the state remains free to express a preference for man, woman marriages in the placement of children.”

Romero’s bill failed in a tie vote of five to five with one representative not voting.  The committee ran out of time before it could take up House Bill 393, sponsored by Republican Representative LaVar Christensen. That bill would assert Utah’s right to decide all matters of domestic relations in the state including marriage and adoption. 

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