August 13th, 2012
The Democratic candidate for Governor of the great state of Utah has clarified that he doesn’t support Democratic values. He supports Utah Values. Ya know, the ones that are passed down from the Prophet. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke launched a pre-emptive strike Monday, distancing himself from his party’s national platform, declaring his opposition to gay marriage, civil unions and abortion and vowing to represent “Utah values.”
Cooke said his opposition to gay marriage stems from his faith — he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has actively opposed same-sex unions in California and elsewhere — but he supports a state law that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, which the church has also supported.
“To me gay marriage is part of my religious belief and I support that and I respect other religious beliefs and I support and love those who are in the gay community,” Cooke said. “I think what needs to be done in Utah is for us to all live together, be compassionate. That’s what the Democratic Party is showing.”
Well, okay, I guess that’s to be expected. It is Utah, after all.
But I’m not so sure that “I promise to vote how the church tells me” is that compelling of a position for politicians anymore. At some point people just get tired of being told that their church will do the thinking for them. And it seems to me that the Mormons may want to take a little glance at their buddies the Catholics and recognize that the more that church leaders insist on dictating politics, the more their flock feels comfortable with ignoring what they have to say.
And maybe, just maybe, Cooke could have grown a pair and used this to his advantage. He could have said that unlike Republican Governor Gary Herbert, he stands for gay families. He could have championed civil unions (or some other form of couple recognition) – as do 71% of Utah’s residents. And had he done so he, he might have stood out as the candidate more in line with “Utah values.”
You know that you’ve lost the “protect marriage” battle, when…
July 10th, 2012
… when 71% of Utah residents support either marriage or civil unions – according to data from Brigham Young University, as reported by Deseret News.
In the 2012 Utah survey, 43 percent of voters supported civil unions, and 28 percent supported same-sex marriage. Nationally, 24 percent favor civil unions and 38 percent favor same-sex marriage.
Using two election exit polls and two surveys of voter panels derived from those exit polls, the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy has collected data on attitudes toward gay marriage at four time points beginning in 2004. That year, 54 percent of Utah voters opposed any form of legal recognition for same-sex relationships. The number dropped to 37 percent in 2009, 35 percent in 2010 and fell again to 29 percent in the new latest poll.
Fred calls it quits
June 29th, 2012
Fred Karger has finally concluded that he is not going to win the Presidency this year. Okay, he knew it on the day he filed, but that was never his goal anyway. Fred just wanted a chance to challenge thinking about who can or cannot be gay and who can or cannot be a Republican.
Fred never reached his stated goal of debating the other Republican candidates in a televised debate. But that was because the Party and the media cheated. (And really, isn’t it disgusting that the mainstream media so dismissed him simply because he is gay while they got all in an excited gigglefest about other zero-chance candidates. No mainstream news channel called out the organizers when they refused Fred even though he met their stated standards.)
But Fred did do an amazing job of reaching people with his message. His novelty caught the attention of newspapers across the nation and many a teenager for the first time realized that a gay person could run for President. And he also provided that element which called out people on their BS. From the minor local Party people who had to ask themselves whether they really did have an objection to gay people running for office and, if so, what it was exactly to the raging homophobes who exposed themselves as such and now will soon experience the outcome of public hatred.
But Fred’s campaign – more of a gay PR campaign than a political one – is over.
LAGUNA BEACH, CA – “After 2 ½ years of campaigning as a candidate for President of the United States I am officially ending my historic campaign today June 29, 2012. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I want to thank the thousands of people across this country who volunteered, contributed, opened their homes, came to our events and cheered me on. Special thanks to the thousands more who shared their stories with me in person, via email, facebook, twitter, etc. Every one of you kept me going.
It’s been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve made many new friends and undoubtedly picked up a few more detractors. I hope and trust that my discussion of the key issues helped to open dialog on fixing the economy, balancing the federal budget, creating jobs, education reform, the environment, immigration reform, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and fighting for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We must move forward on these issues and many more.
A big thank you goes out to our incredible campaign team, most of whom have been around for nearly the entire 2 ½ years. Your dedication, spirit and great ideas made all the difference.
I plan to rest up for awhile and then I will be back at it to help in the fight for LGBT equality. We will let you know as soon as our exact course is determined.
Here at BTB we have a soft spot for Fred. Maybe it’s because when I met him, his first words were, “I was on the Turtle Box today looking up something on Uganda.” Maybe it’s because when you are on the ballot, the media can’t refuse to run advertisements like this one.
Or maybe it’s because he really is a charming dorky gay nerd who reached the highest levels of political involvement (he was a Presidential advisor) and was willing to spend a big chunk of his own money to try and help out kids out there in the red states who desperately need to know that they can grow up to be anything they want to be, including charming dorky gay nerd Presidents.
Runnin’ For President Ain’t Nuttin But A Booty Call
June 13th, 2012
Fred Karger, the openly gay candidate who is still pressing his issues-based campaign for the Republican nomnation, had a rough go of it in Utah which will hold its primary on June 26. He met with Republican leaders and urged the LDS Church to end its campaigns against marriage equality. One of those GOP leaders he met was Washington County Party Chairman Willie Billings. Karger said that meeting went well — Karger gave Billings a Frisbee and a T-Shirt. But when Billings took the items home, his wife threw then out and fired off an email to the Karger campaign:
From: nanette Billings <—->
Subject: running for president
you are an idiot. You met with my husband Willie Billings today about you being on the Utah ballot. He brought your frisby and tshirt home and it is now out in the trash. I never want to hear from such a radical idiot again. you think you are conseritave? conseritave means you beleive in the values of the founding fathers and God. Do you know you cant procreate right? Well thank goodness for that Nanette Billings
She confirmed the email to Yahoo News. She also said:
“My feeling is the only reason he’s running for president is to find more [sexual] partners,” Nanette Billings told Yahoo News in a phone interview. “To get more people on his bandwagon.”
Who said Utahns are nice?
300 Straight Mormon Allies March in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade
June 4th, 2012
It was a diverse group of Mormons (well, diverse as far as Mormons in Utah go) that showed up to march in Sunday’s Pride Parade in Salt Lake City:
The group, Mormons Building Bridges, said they wanted to send a message of love to the state’s LGBT community, a message they believe is compatible with their faith.
Emily Vandyke, 50, carried a sign with the words from an LDS children’s song: “I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you.”
Several blocks along the parade route, she embraced a tall woman weeping at the edge of the crowd who said, “Thank you.”
“I haven’t recognized them as equals,” Vandyke said a few minutes later. “They have been invisible to me.”
Organizers expected about a hundred straight Mormon families to show up. Those expectations were exceeded threefold, with many marchers showing up straight from church in their Sunday best.
Those accounts were carried in the Salt Lake Tribune and spread across the country by the Associated Press. Mormons Building Bridges also got a brief mention from the local CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates, as well as Mormon-owned Deseret News, which carefully spelled out the church’s position on homosexuality.
300 Gay Mormons Meet in Salt Lake City Conference
November 7th, 2011
In the same weekend in which about 70 people attended the annual convention for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in Phoenix which included a very large contingent of people associated with the Mormon ex-gay group Evergreen International as well as other LDS church members, about 300 people attended a three-day conference in a Salt Lake City church to discuss the issues surrounding gay Mormons. The conference, held at First Baptist Church, featured author and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson, Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, researcher John Dehlin, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox, Faith in Action’s Jimmy Creech, and gay psychologist Lee Beckstead. The conference was organized by Mormon Stories, which is not affiliated with the LDS church, and was intended to “build bridges between all who identify as Mormon,” at task which Beakstead said he found difficult:
During the Saturday morning session, Dr. Lee Beckstead, a Salt Lake therapist whose research has focused on resolving sexual, social and religious conflicts, said Mormons with same-gender attraction often feel torn apart by individuals urging them to “get off the fence — to be gay or be Mormon,” suggesting that one can’t be both.
Beckstead said either choice is painful.
“You can’t cut off a part of yourself and not do harm — even if you’re doing it to please God, or parents, or family or friends,” he said. While Beckstead said that he personally had a hard time being both gay and Mormon, the same may not be true for others.
“My resolution may not be your resolution,” he said, urging conferencegoers to “keep exploring for yourself what your truth is, what is right for you. That is where you will find your happiness.”
The Salt Lake Tribune (no link, although that may change soon) reports that Kevin Kloosterman, an LDS bishop from Illinois described the treatment of gays by the church as “an atrocity” and personally apologized, although he clarified that he was only speaking for himself and not the church. But he added that “straight members of the church have a lot of repenting to do.”
Third Salt Lake-Area Gay Man Attacked In Two Weeks
September 9th, 2011
Police in American Fork, a suburb community south of Salt Lake City, are investigating an attack on a hair salon owner as he was taking out the trash at 12:45 a.m. early Thursday morning. Police say that he was beaten by two or three assailants as they uttered gay slurs. The victim, 32-year-old Cameron Nelson, was treated at a hospital for multiple injuries including a broken nose. Police are investigating.
Two weeks ago, two gay men in Salt Lake City were attacked in separate incidents. One man, Dane Hall, suffered a broken jaw and lost six teeth when his attackers “curb stomped” him. Incredibly, SLC police are refusing to regard either of the attacks as hate crimes.
Salt Lake City Gay Bashings “Not Related”
September 6th, 2011
More than a week after Dane Hall was brutally beaten outside a Salt Lake City night club, police finally decided to get around to interviewing him. Attackers stomped on the back of his head, broke his jaw, and knocked out several teeth. The local gay community is rallying around Hall and are trying to raise money to pay his medical bills. Hall has no health insurance and his bills are mounting. That same night, another man, whose identity has been withheld, was also severely beaten. The Salt Lake City Tribune (no link) reports that police, who are refusing to regard the attacks as hate crimes, say that the two assaults appear unrelated. I don’t know which of the two statements in that last sentence I find more disturbing: the idea that it’s not a hate crime, or the idea that more than one roving band of anti-gay attackers were on the loose in Salt Lake City on the same evening.
Utah Dems Elect First Openly Gay Man As Party Leader
July 18th, 2011
And he wants to assure the state’s Mormons that they are also welcome in the “big tent” party:
“I want to speak directly to the LDS people in our state,” Jim Dabakis said Saturday after being nominated for state party chairman. “I want you LDS people to participate in our party. We want your spirit, we want your contributions and we want to earn your votes. I will do whatever I can as chair to see that our big tent is comfortable to LDS people because it’s the right thing to do.”
Dabakis co-founded Equality Utah and The Utah Pride Center. Shortly after his nomination for the top job, he joked, “This is a historic moment. Utah may elect its first out Greek-American party chair.”
I support polygamists’ lawsuit
July 12th, 2011
Get ready to hear the anti-gays shriek, “I told you so!” A reality celebrity polygamist family from Utah is suing that state to have its polygamy law found unconstitutional. And I support them. (ABC)
The polygamist family portrayed on the TLC reality show “Sister Wives” said all along its main goal in going on national television was to gain public acceptance of its lifestyle.
Now family patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives and 16 children and stepchildren are moving from the court of public opinion to the court of law, arguing that criminalizing their lifestyle is unconstitutional.
This lawsuit may seem to support the contentions of Maggie Gallagher and the others who spend their energy obsessing over my life and campaigning to keep me inferior. And it may seek peculiar that I would support such and endeavor.
But here’s the thing. They are not suing to have their family structure given legal recognition; that I would oppose.
The legal bonds of matrimony uniquely empower one person to be the sole caretaker and decision-maker over another in times of trouble, the primary heir with unique right at death, and encompasses a whole host of entanglements that become complicated beyond possibility when more than two are included. While the State can step in to a family squabble and say we recognize the spouse, chaos would result from multiple spouse with equal claim or, worse yet, some hierarchy of squabbling spouses.
But their lawsuit is about something else, the effort by the state to control their sex life. Unlike other states which do not recognize multi-party marriage, Utah has banned multi-party cohabitation.
The state law reads: “A person is guilty of bigamy when, knowing he has a husband or wife or knowing the other person has a husband or wife, the person purports to marry another person or cohabits with another person.”
Kody Brown is legally married to one woman, Meri, but also calls the other three women his spouses.
And while I do not wish to open legal marriage to multiple parties, I am a big fan of leaving people live how they want, love whom they want, and in general be as stupid as they want to be (and, believe me, I think any non-bisexual woman that enters into a relationship in which she is one of four women with one man is stupid). So if you want to live with the knowledge that you have no right to recourse should your man and his other three women tire of you, knock yourself out.
And this is not just a theoretical complaint against the state. The police in Lehi, Utah, launched an investigation into the Brown family’s lifestyle for a possible charge of bigamy.
So yeah, I side with the crazy people on this one. If you think that your god wants you to share your man with three other women (one of whom has all the legal rights) then I’ll support your right to sleep where you want and with whom. But fair warning, polygamists, don’t be marrying 14 year-olds or abandoning your male children on a street corner or I’ll happily lead the charge to throw your nasty ass in jail.
Arkansas Supreme Court Overturns Adoption Ban
April 7th, 2011
The Arkansas Supreme Court today ruled that a voter-approved initiative banning unmarried cohabiting couples, including gay couples, from adopting or serving as foster parents. The court found that because the law singles out cohabiting couples for the ban while allowing single individuals to adopt or foster children, it encroaches on a key right to privacy:
Act 1 directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of “opposite-sex and same-sex individuals” who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children, should they choose to cohabit with their sexual partner. The pressure on such couples to live apart, should they wish to foster or adopt children, is clearly significant. In Jegley, the burden perpetrated by the State was criminal prosecution for sodomy, although the act took place in the privacy of the bedroom. In the case before us, the burden dispensed by the State is either to remove the ability to foster or adopt children, should sexual partners live together, or to intrude into the bedroom to assure that cohabitors who adopt or foster are celibate. We conclude that, in this case as in Jegley, the burden is direct and substantial.
In 2002, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that state’s sodomy law in the case of Jegley v. Picado, nearly a full year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws nationwide in Lawrence v. Texas. A state judge struck down Arkansas’ adoption ban last April. The attorney general then appealed to the Supreme Court, which led to today’s ruling.
Because the court found that Act 1 infringes on a key right to privacy, the court determined that heighened scrutiny rather than rational-basis was the appropriate standard for the ruling:
We have held in this case that a fundamental right of privacy is at issue and that the burden imposed by the State is direct and substantial. We now hold, as an additional matter, that because of the direct and substantial burden on a fundamental right, the standard to be applied is heightened scrutiny and not a rational-basis standard. Using the heightened- scrutiny standard, because Act 1 exacts a categorical ban against all cohabiting couples engaged in sexual conduct, we hold that it is not narrowly tailored or the least restrictive means available to serve the State’s compelling interest of protecting the best interest of the child.
Utah and Mississippi are the only states remaining with adoption bans affecting gay people. Utah, like Arkansas until today, bans cohabiting couples from adopting but allows single adults to adopt when married couples aren’t available. Mississippi law allows unmarried and married adults to adopt regardless of cohabitation status, but contains a separate clause stating, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”
Utah Religious Freedom Bill To Rescind LGBT Anti-Discrimination Measures — And Protect Polygamy
February 7th, 2011
Utah State Rep. LaVar Christensen (R-Draper) is upset that so many local Utah cities have passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT residents in housing and employment. The statutes already exempt religious organizations, but Christensen thinks that doesn’t go far enough. he wants to exempt Utah’s individuals from prosecutions because of their religious beliefs.
Christensen apparently is a big believer in religious freedom. A huge believer, and he wrote his bill so broadly that it opens the door toward protection of polygamy as well, among other possibilities:
Marina Lowe, the legislative and policy counsel for The American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill is so broad it could permit many types of discrimination. “The possibilities are limitless,” Lowe said. For example, a landlord could refuse to rent to a gay couple or a doctor could refuse to treat a woman who is pregnant out of wedlock.
…Civil rights attorney Brian Barnard said the law could provide a defense for the violation of a variety of laws in the name of faith. “Polygamy is the one that comes to mind, but there are other religious practices,” Barnard said. “Peyote, for example, and the other one is churches, like the Episcopal church, that give wine to minors during the sacrament.”
Another Utah county passes non-discrimination ordinance
December 22nd, 2010
Grand County, Utah, home to Moab and the Arches National Park, has now passed an ordinance that protects its 9,000 or so residents from sexual orientation and sexual identity discrimination in housing and employment. (SL Tribune)
That means one in four Utahns, living in 10 communities from Moab to Logan, are protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Advocates for the statutes hope that groundswell of support will push the Utah Legislature to protect all Utahns.
With this decision, Equality Utah has reached its goal of ten new municipalities banning discrimination.
Salt Lake County followed Salt Lake City’s lead, and Equality Utah launched an effort, dubbed “Ten in 2010,” to increase the list to 10 by the end of this year. Grand County expedited the ordinances to ensure passage before the new year.
They are hoping to capitalize on the momentum and encourage the state legislature to ban discrimination state wide. As yet, this seems to be more of a grand hope than an achievable goal. However, much depends on the public stances of the Mormon Church, whose support secured the bill in Salt Lake City
Chaffetz reacts to DADT report
November 30th, 2010
Chaffetz is the buffoon who, upon the fifth state enacting civil marriage said, “The trend is still 45 states don’t.”
He’s the fumbling, bumbling fellow who was charged with making sure that the District of Columbia’s marriage law was blocked by Congress. Ah, Utah 3rd District, you surely must be proud.
And, consistent with his method of legislating, Chaffetz has now responded to the DADT report. Or, not exactly to the report…
Chaffetz, who has not yet read the study, said he is “still opposed to such a dramatic alteration in the midst of active war.”
Still opposed, based on, oh, nothing. There ya go, Chaffetz, that’s the ignorant lout with an uninformed opinion that we all know and love.
Thousands Surround Salt Lake Temple
October 8th, 2010
An estimated 4,500 people surrounded the two blocks downtown that make up the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last night to protest a recent anti-gay statement by LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer.
Paker spoke at the Mormon Church’s 180th Semiannual General Conference spoke out against same-sex marriage and called homosexuality “impure and unnatural”:
“There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,” Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said in a strongly worded sermon about the dangers of pornography and same-sex marriage. “A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?”
Those comments, coming on the heels of at least five suicides in September, drew sharp condemnations inside and outside the church:
Tonight, we are symbolic of all the children who have been killed by messages like Boyd K. Packer’s,” said organizer and Salt Lake City blogger Eric Ethington. “When you hear nothing from [church leaders] but that you are nothing but evil and you need to change the unchangeable nature of yourself, that is only a message kids can take for so long.”
Utah GOP selects Log Cabin leader as candidate
September 2nd, 2010
To run for State Senate in Utah, you need to file certain disclosures by a deadline. If you do not, you are disqualified and the state party can pick a new candidate. (Pride in Utah)
The time limit expired last night on Ben McAdams’ Republican opponent Nancy Davis to file her disclosures and she was forced out of the race. In these unlikely circumstances, the Republican Party is allowed to nominate their own candidate to automatically run without going through the delegate system. You won’t believe who they picked.
Of all people… Melvin Nimer, the President of the Utah Log Cabin Republicans and board member of the Utah Pride Center.
Ben McAdams, the Mormon Democrat currently holding the office, is supportive of the community and a reliable ally. His predecessor in the 2nd District was gay.
It’s difficult to know just what prompted the Republican Party to pick a gay candidate. Perhaps they figure that a gay man has a better chance in the district, and they like winning more than they oppose gay rights. Or perhaps it was pure tokenism, tossing an impossible seat to the gay guy; yet this is a token that Utah Republicans have not traditionally considered.
Regardless of the reason, this is very unexpected and very welcome.
Utah Gov. hosts Log Cabin
August 11th, 2010
Utah Governor Gary Herbert will be hosting a private reception for Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, later this month. Herbert, a Republican and a Mormon, had spoken against a non-discrimination proposal last year but this announcement may be an evidence of both the party’s and the church’s softening attitudes over the past couple of years.
Within the past few years, at least six Utah cities have passed discrimination protections – with the support of the Mormon Church. This may be the silver lining that resulted from the exposure of the church’s involvement in California’s Proposition 8.
Let’s hope that Log Cabin can continue to help build inroads into the administration and elicit support for some of the provisions that are expected to be brought up in the legislature within the next year. But even absent any specific tangible advance, this is a positive step. History shows us that exposure to gay people and hearing our concerns can be the strongest contributor to change.
Summit County makes six
June 18th, 2010
Utah’s on quite a roll. (SL Tribune)
Summit County has snagged the No. 6 spot on a growing list of Utah cities and counties that protect gay and transgender residents from discrimination.
This week, the Summit County Council voted unanimously, with two members absent but supportive, to pass two ordinances that forbid housing and employment discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Another Utah City enacts non-discrimination policy
June 3rd, 2010
Following in the footsteps of Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County (unincorporated areas), Park City, and Logan, Utah’s second largest city, West Valley, has now voted to ban discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation. (SL Trib)
The West Valley City Council, in a 5-1 vote, approved Tuesday an anti-discrimination ordinance similar to those recently passed in other Utah cities.
About 60 people attended the meeting at City Hall. Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City, and about seven others spoke in favor of the proposal to protect gay and transgender residents from housing and employment discrimination. No one spoke publicly against it.
It does appear that opposition to employment and housing discrimination against LGBT people may be becoming part of Mormon values.
Logan, UT (and Mormon Church?) support non-discrimination laws
May 19th, 2010
Congratulations to residents of Logan, Utah, whose city council on Tuesday night banned employers and landlords from discriminating against gays, lesbians or transgender people (SL Tribune)
Modeled after anti-discrimination laws recently adopted in Salt Lake City, Logan’s housing and employment ordinances passed with four votes and one abstention, by Councilman Dean Quayle. A crowd, which filled the City Council Chambers halls and an overflow room, was mostly subdued throughout a one-hour public hearing. Following the tally though, the crowd erupted in applause and rewarded the council with a standing ovation.
On Tuesday night, Monson defended his support of the ordinances and clarified the stance of the area’s largest church after calling the LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City on Monday.
“The [LDS] church supports nondiscrimination ordinances, period. Certainly, I was told that this applies to Logan as much as any other place in the world,” Monson said Tuesday before calling for the vote. “They do and I do and I agree that this is not the answer for everything … But it is a step in the right direction and it is long overdue in my thinking.”
It looks like the church may be on a “see, we don’t hate you” campaign. And if so… I welcome it.