Proposed Bill Would Let Utah Taxpayers Donate Part of Refund to Fight Gay Marriage

Utah Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, has introduced a bill that would allow taxpayers to check a box and donate part of their income tax refund to fund the state's battle against gay marriage, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

NelsonHis HB48 would create a check-off on forms for a "Marriage Defense Fund." It would also allow direct donations to the fund via cash, check or credit card — and would direct the state to conduct a marketing campaign to help raise money.

"I see it as a way to placate proponents of same-sex marriage who have complained about the cost" to taxpayers for the state’s ongoing appeals to defend Amendment 3, said Nelson, an attorney for Kirton McConkie, whose clients include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I see it as a peacekeeping measure…. I see this as a way to placate both sides."

He added, "I’ve had several individuals and groups tell me they would like to donate to the cause. It’s a way for them to show their support." Besides the tax form check-off, the bill would allow direct contributions to the fund by "cash, credit card or check."

The state of Utah is facing two lawsuits. The first is the appeal before the 10th Circuit of a lower court's ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, and the second is one brought by the ACLU against the state for putting "on hold" marriages that were performed before the U.S. Supreme Court put a stay on the ruling in the first case.