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The No Censor Senate

by Josh Loftin
Posted // 2010-02-11 -

Now, it's the Senate leaders turn to quell dissent among his rank-and-file about the gay rights moratorium.

Late Wednesday night, Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, issued a statement through the Senate Site to make it clear that he has not censored anyone with the gay rights moratorium. The full text (and yes, the emoticon is part of the official statement, maybe a first in Utah politics):

Reports of my willingness to censor people have been greatly exaggerated. :-)

The Moratorium was born from a hope that the emerging civil, respectful, and educated dialogue on LGBT issues in Utah might continue. That seems healthy to me. The further hope is that through a year of thought and discussion we might find consensus on the direction we take as a state. When we discussed the Moratorium with reporters last week I asked Utahns not to discriminate. I also encouraged activists on both sides of this cultural divide to avoid behavior that would polarize. That was my intent, anyway. In my years as a legislator I've learned that civil conversations tend to humanize people and lead to better results.

I encourage a continued exchange of ideas in Utah's homes, neighborhoods, and here at the Capitol. Everyone that has information should share. You don’t need permission or an invitation to join the dialogue. No one should be excluded.

Though light on words, this statement carries a lot of weight, and it is clearly directed at the conservative senators and their supporters who were practically relishing a fight over gay rights this year. If I had to guess at the behind-the-scenes motivation for this -- and since it's almost midnight, that's about all I can do -- it is that some senators have been making these charges of censorship outside of the Senate Republican Caucus. That is not something that is approved of in the tight-knit caucus, just as siding with Democrats outside of the caucus is not really applauded. (At this point, there is likely squawking from the Senate Republicans, who would claim that individuals can do what they want. You know, free agency and all that. But ... come on.)

The real intrigue is that this statement comes out 24 hours after the Utah Pride Center and other gay rights leaders announced a Thursday night forum to calm the critics on their side of the debate. In other words, the moratorium has pretty much pissed off everyone except those that actually will make the decisions. Isn't that the typical definition of a compromise?

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