Former Utah Senator Chris Buttars passed away on Monday at the age of 76. Buttars daughter announced his passing on social media.
Buttars served in the Utah State Senate for 10 years from 2001 to 2011. He announced his retirement on the final night of the 2011 session. Prior to that, Buttars served on the West Jordan City Council for more than a decade.
Buttars was a lightning rod for controversy during his tenure on Utah’s Capitol Hill. He co-authored Constitutional Amendment 3, which banned same-sex marriage in Utah. The amendment was approved by voters in 2004 but was struck down by District Judge Robert Shelby in 2013.
Buttars pushed legislation to fund rehabilitation programs for drug offenders instead of prison time. He also supported raising the minimum wage in Utah.
In 2009, Buttars was removed from the chairmanship of two Senate committees after making anti-gay comments to a documentary filmmaker, and he was accused of making racist statements during a 2008 floor debate when he said of a bill, “This baby is black, I’ll tell you. This is a dark and ugly thing.”
Buttars was director of the Utah Boys Ranch.
Buttars was reportedly receiving hospice care for the last few months of his life.