BUTTARS PUNISHED FOR ANTI-GAY TIRADE…. Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars (R) generated some attention for himself this week with a breathtaking anti-gay tirade in which he called gay people “the greatest threat to America going down I know of.” He went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism, and described gay people as “the meanest buggers I ever seen. It’s just like the Moslems.” Buttars concluded, “It’s the beginning of the end…. Sodom and Gomorrah was localized. This is worldwide.”

In an unexpected move, state officials in Utah actually chose to do something about this.

Utah Senate leaders stripped Sen. Chris Buttars of his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday in response to outrage and embarrassment from Buttars’ anti-gay tirade to a documentary filmmaker.

Indeed, Senate President Michael Waddoups, a Republican, decided to “boot Buttars off of two committees — the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee and the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee — both of which Buttars leads.” Waddoups said that the state Senate “stands behind Senator Buttars’ right to speak,” but that action was necessary so that the chamber could function effectively.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture, isn’t this a little unusual? Unfortunately, far-right Republican lawmakers at the state level (and occasionally at the national level) say ridiculous and hateful things about gay people all the time. It’s routine, and rarely comes with consequences. Buttars was more idiotic than most, but he’s hardly the first GOP official to launch into a bigoted tirade about Americans he hates.

With that in mind, I like to think this result is a sign of real progress. A Republican elected official in Utah was punished — by other Republicans — for anti-gay vitriol.

What a pleasant surprise.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.