Our favorite Utah wingnut, State Sen. Chris Buttars, is back in the news again, but not for his opposition to evolution. This time, it's his opposition to the formation of gay-straight clubs in Utah's public schools. Showing once again the typical connection between creationist activity and the full and, in my view, repressive agenda of the religious right, Buttars is attempting to ban such clubs from schools:
Buttars, a West Jordan Republican, is vowing to push a bill through the upcoming Legislature to outlaw gay-straight clubs in Utah high schools. "I will prevail," he says.
Would you care to bet on that, Mr. Buttars? There's just this one little thing standing in your way, a Federal law called the Equal Access Act. That law states rather explicitly:
It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.
(b) A public secondary school has a limited open forum whenever such school grants an offering to or opportunity for one or more noncurriculum related student groups to meet on school premises during noninstructional time.
What that means is that if you get rid of the gay-straight clubs, you have to eliminate the limited open forum. And if you do that, then all the student bible clubs go too. So do any number of other non-curricular clubs. Good luck prevailing in this one, pal.
Sorry, Ed but he may prevail. I keep seeing the occasional news item about a school district here and there around the country closing access to all in order to prevent the Gay/Straight clubs from having access. It has happened elsewhere.
However, from my admitedly off-center observation post for Utah [my town once has Democratic reps in the state legislature, which makes it practically The Peoples Republic Of Ogden in many folks' eyes], the business interests in the state are getting tired of the Loon Capital of the Nation tag Utah often gets, and particularly of the true wingnuts who get us in the headlines nationally in that regard. [E.g. the town that made it illegal NOT to own a gun; the town of La Verkin that outlawed the UN from coming within its borders] and now Buttars on Creationism and this. And from what I can tell of Utah's recent history, you cross the business community on Capitol Hill here at your peril. But we shall see.
I think at one point in high school I belonged to both the Bible club AND the the les/bi/gay club. Bet that would make poor Mr. Buttars' head explode.
Although I think the public middle and high schools in Utah get around this by pure technicalities (oops, we bought too much land and overbought on materials for the school - LDS Church, would you like to purchase this adjacent plot and these materials to build your seminary building?), for a state that blurs the line for sponsoring state-endorsed religious education for a purely invented bastardization of Christianity to be challenging any other groups' rights to assemble should be a fight they shouldn't be looking to pick. Nephi forbid the rights to have the LDS seminary buildings essentially on-campus without offering equal access for the religious beliefs of other students ever be challenged.
Specific cases have been lost, such as the one in Lubbock, TX. There are plenty of bullshit arguments to get past allowing a GSA.
Even if this bill were to pass, what would actually prevent a school from allowing such a club? Most public school teachers I have known, as well as most administrators, would simply ignore the law, but then again, I don't live in Utah.
Presumably a school somewhere would set up such a club. Either charges would not be brought, in which case other schools would go ahead and do the same thing; or charges would be brought, and the plaintiffs would have to either show that the public school, which keep in mind would technically be the defendent in this case, was not a limited public forum, or that this regulation was not purely a content issue. Of course, the court could also decide that the Equal Access Act was unconstitutional, but any judge doing so is not only begging to be overruled on appeal, but would also likely damage his own reputation.
What would you call the ideology of Buttars? He's not in favor of limited government, that's for sure. He seems to think that as a congressmen he can make a law about anything and that his job is to defend certain ideals of his. In his hierarchy of importance defending these ideals are more important than defending the constitution.
Unfortunately whoever runs against him next time likely won't claim hypocrisy when Buttars runs a campaign as a "small government" republican because the constituency probably approves of the discrimination.
I believe that the philosophy to which you refer is "opportunism."
I love the tone he's setting: "I will prevail." Because it's all about him, and whatever tinfoil-hat cause he can use to get himself nationwide attention for his upcoming run for the US Congress.