Sutherland Institute Launches

Nearly 700 people attended Sutherland’s State of the Union II: The Challenge to Family and Freedom at Thanksgiving Point on Thursday evening, February 5, 2009.  Those attending one of the largest events Sutherland has hosted were introduced to the Institute’s Sacred Ground Initiative – a set of five actions for responsible citizens to become informed and involved in protecting traditional marriage in Utah.

Sutherland President, Paul Mero, first speaker of the night, said that the proper definition of family is critical to our liberty and that responsible citizens need to distinguish between what they ought to do and, in their selfishness, what they want to do.

LaVar Christensen, the primary author of Utah’s Constitutional Amendment in support of traditional marriage, was the second speaker.  Christensen said, “One of the bills in the [“Common Ground Initiative”] package directly seeks to eliminate the second sentence of Amendment 3 and if that doesn’t work, the other measures are designed to invite activist judges to do that for them and thereby overturn the will of the people.”

The concluding speaker was Lauralyn B. Swim, Sutherland benefactor and former member of the Young Women General Board.  Mrs. Swim said that the five-part campaign, titled the Sacred Ground Initiative, will help citizens of Utah engage effectively in an effort to reaffirm and strengthen the moral climate of our local communities.  She ended her speech by saying, “Defending marriage and family is an act of love for our children and our children’s children.  May that love be visible as we go forward together.”

Lauralyn Swim transcript:


LaVar Christensen transcript:

Photos from the event:
Video clips from the event:


On Friday, February 6, 2009, Rep. Jackie Biskupski (D-Salt Lake City) announced she had pulled her proposed HJR 2 that would change Utah’s Amendment 3.  The bill, one of the proposed policies in the “Common Ground Initiative,” would have removed language from the State Constitution in an effort to pave the way for civil unions and eventually same-sex marriage.

Earlier in the 2009 legislative session, the first policy in the “Common Ground Initiative” – a law that would have given same-sex couples legal standing in wrongful-death suits – was voted down in committee.  With Rep. Biskupski pulling her bill, there are at least three remaining “Common Ground” measures yet to be debated during the 2009 session, including a bill that would make it illegal for landlords and employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Placing the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ into Utah law would defy logic and confuse long-standing notions of good law and policy,” Mero said. “It would be a lawyer’s dream.”

On Monday, February 9, 2009, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Governor Huntsman, through his spokesperson, had expressed his support for the “Common Ground Initiative” and said he was in favor of civil unions.  In response, Sutherland issued the following statement: “We’re not surprised.  Public relations, not policy, is his strong suit.  He had to be dragged to the altar of Amendment 3, and everyone has known, since then, that Governor Huntsman would rather be nice than right.”

Responsible citizens wishing to express their opinions to the Governor’s statement may contact his office at 801-538-1000 or by leaving a comment at