After an awkward silence, sexual consent bill passes in the Utah House

Posted at 4:25 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-10 19:50:14-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill that defines sexual consent and sparked national controversy passed the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday, after an awkward silence on the House floor.

No lawmakers wanted to talk about Rep. Angela Romero's House Bill 74, which changes Utah's sexual consent law to state that an unconscious person cannot consent to sex.

Perhaps it was the controversy surrounding the bill and nationwide backlash that lawmakers felt that kept them silent. During a committee hearing on the bill last week, Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, questioned if it was rape if someone had sex with their spouse while unconscious.

Greene, who voted for Romero's bill, later apologized for his remarks.

In an interview with FOX 13 after the bill passed, Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said the controversy might have pushed the bill through.

"The controversy might have helped the bill but it also opened conversations about sexual violence," she said.

Romero said she has also seen a backlash against her, with people calling her "awful words" in emails and phone calls, but she said the bill needed to be run and has empowered women to speak out against sexual assault.

HB 74 now goes on to the full Senate for a vote.