By Deborah Carl
Olympics Put Pressure on Mormons to Change Utah Liquor Laws
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- "The liquor laws are outmoded and out of date and we
must change them if we want to attract international visitors to Utah," says
Rocky Anderson, the Mayor of Salt Lake City.
Anderson is working to make alcohol easier to obtain for the influx of
visitors expected for the 2001 Winter Olympics, but the campaign is dividing
the community. Many residents of Utah belong to the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints which opposes the consumption of alcoholic beverages
and they do not believe the laws should be relaxed.
"Alcohol kills more people in America than tobacco and we should treat the
issue responsibly," said Lane Beattie, former president of the Utah Senate
and current governor's representative on the Salt Lake Games organizing
committee. "When we got the Games everyone knew the laws here and we were
not asked to change them so we shouldn't do so now."
It is possible to get a drink in Utah. All bars are private clubs and
require membership to get in, but membership is available at the door for
about $5. However, many people in the tourist industry believes this
confuses visitors. Also, liquor is available at state liquor stores, but
there are about 24 in a 100 mile radius of Salt Lake. Salt Lake City has 8
state liquor stores. Mayor Anderson believes people over 21 should be able
to buy wine and beer at the grocery store.
Anderson would also like to abolish some of the by-laws. For example,
waiters are not allowed to offer the wine list to diners unless they request
it. In some bars locally brewed beer is not available on Sunday, but
stronger imported beers are available. Also, a bar tender can be held
legally responsible for the death of a driver if he has served him a drink
knowing that he was then going to drive.
While many don't want to change the current liquor laws, they do want
visitors to know that drinking is not outlawed. There is an old saying in
Utah: "If you can't get a drink in Utah then you are simply not thirsty
Mormons under pressure on drink
BBC News 19Mar01 S1