Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hate Crimes Bill Signing!

At 12:30 Mountain time, in the Rose Garden, President Obama will sign the Hate Crimes bill. Watch it live:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Matthew Shepard Act PASSES!

This is a message from NCLR:

Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) applauds the United States Senate for final passage of the hate crimes bill, now known as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The Department of Defense conference report was approved with the hate crimes bill provisions included by a vote of 68-29. Earlier in the day, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii cast the final affirmative vote on a procedural motion to limit debate that cleared the last hurdle to final passage as an honor to his long service to the Senate. The conference report accompanies H.R.2647, the underlying Department of Defense Authorization bill. The measure now heads to President Obama for his signature.

The hate crimes legislation gives the Justice Department the authority to fully investigate and prosecute bias-motivated crimes where the victim has been targeted because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. President Barack Obama has vowed to sign the bill.

“We thank the Senate—indeed the full Congress—for passing the hate crimes bill, and especially those who provided strong leadership on this measure,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “My heart is very full today as I think of families who have lost loved ones, of Senator Kennedy, who championed this bill for so many years, and also as I imagine all those who may be saved by this measure. I look forward to President Obama swiftly signing this measure into law.”

On October 8, 2009, the United States House of Representatives voted 281-146 in favor of a joint House-Senate “conference report” on a defense authorization measure that also includes provisions that would expand the definition of federal hate crimes to cover attacks based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and military service.

The bill was introduced in the Senate on April 28, 2009 by the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), among others. At the June 25, 2009 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified that the Obama administration strongly supported the bill, stating, “The President and I seek swift passage of this legislation because hate crimes victimize not only individuals, but entire communities.”

NCLR has long supported passage of this key measure, assisting with drafting bill provisions, drawing public attention to the problem of hate violence and the need for hate crimes legislation, and providing grassroots support necessary for its passage.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Race, Sexuality, and Gender: HRC Releases a report

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has released a report called, “At the Intersection: Race, Sexuality and Gender” It is a study aimed at gaining a deeper understanding about the complexities at the intersection of race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equality Utah has been thinking about these complexities a lot lately. How can we be more inclusive of LGBT people of color? There is as much diversity in the LGBT Community of Utah as in entire state of Utah. How we better embrace that diversity, and face this challenge head on? There is so much work to be done here in Utah.

Read the report

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Salt Lake City Releases a Report in Discrimination

Today The Salt Lake City Office for Diversity released a report on discrimination in Salt Lake City.
Here are a few articles about the report and yesterday’s press conference:

Salt Lake Tribune


Deseret News


The Salt Lake City Office for Diversity is recommending an inclusive ordinance that includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We are hitting common ground running!

In the next three weeks, Equality Utah is hosting a series of Town Hall Meetings in and around Salt Lake County. An Equality Utah poll showed that 83% of Utahns support basic protections for gay and transgender Utahns. We are going to identify and harness that support starting with these Town Hall Meetings.

The meetings will cover the Common Ground Initiative and how we can all spread the word. Will you attend a Town Hall Meeting?

Taylorsville, Utah
July 16th
Taylorsville Library
4870 South 2700 West,
Taylorsville, UT 84118

6:30 to 8:00 pm

Sandy City, Utah
July 20th

Sandy Library
10100 South Petunia Way (1405 East),
Sandy, UT 84092
6:30 to 8:00 pm

West Valley City, Utah
July 21st

West Valley Library
2880 West 3650 South,
West Valley City, UT 84119

6:30 to 8:00 pm

Park City, Utah
July 28th

Park City Library
255 Park Ave
Park City, UT 84060

6:30 to 8:00 pm

, Utah
July 28th
Ogden OUTReach Center
705 23rd Street
Ogden, Utah 84401
6:30 to 8:00 pm

If you live in these areas, please attend the meeting closest to you, if not please attend any meeting. Bring your neighbors, friends, and join us as we Break Ground on Common Ground!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The Senate is voting on the Matthew Shepard Act TOMORROW!!! CALL YOUR SENATORS!!!!

Contact Info:
Sen. Bennett
(202) 224-5444

Sen Hatch: (202) 224-5251

From our friends at HRC:

The Senate is poised to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act THIS WEEK. But our allies are reporting an avalanche of 300,000 letters and calls from right-wing groups trying to stop it.

Anti-LGBT leaders like Focus on the Family's James Dobson are now calling the bill "utter evil." They're even referring to it as the "Pedophile Protection Act."

With a vote on hate crimes coming any day, we desperately need senators to hear from fair-minded people like you.

It takes about 45 seconds to call each one of your senators – and each one of them needs to hear from you today. It's just as important for supportive senators to hear from us – they've promised to pass this bill, and they need to know we're counting on them to keep fighting.

So set yourself a reminder on your computer. Make the call on your way to lunch. Or stop reading this and do it right now. Whatever you do, click here to let us know that you made the call. Don't skip this step! It helps us track our progress.

We have the truth on our side – and we need you to speak the truth today to counter our opponents' outrageous lies. Please make your phone calls right now.

Then, please pass this email on to your friends and family.

Thank you for taking action.

Please take action on this VERY IMPORTANT legislation!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Inform. Invite. Include

Guest Blogger, Isaac Higham discusses the importance of youth involvement in the LGBT Equality Movement.

The LGBTA community in Utah, while not gaudy or overly intimidating in number is nonetheless impressive in the quality and character of the members of its community. From the fledgling gay-straight alliances at an increasing number of high schools, colleges, and universities to the heart of the community in Salt Lake City, one doesn’t have to search for long to find some of the most dedicated, motivated, kind, and sincere human beings around.

Some of my favorite people I have had the pleasure of meeting have been some of our straight allies. Some have a LGBT family member or friend. Others have had their lives touched by someone in our community. And some are allies simply because they disagree with the unequal treatment of people they may not even know or understand. Regardless of their stories or motives, their support is very valued and much appreciated.

We have made many positive strides in Utah from increasing the number of fair-minded candidates elected, to various municipalities deciding to support their GLBT employees. Equality Utah through its Common Ground Initiative is making progress in pushing for even more positive changes. The movement towards “A fair and just Utah” will push forward only with the continued efforts of us all along with adding more voices, gay and straight, to the cause. And here we come to an area where we have had success but, to steal a phrase from my upbringing, we need to raise the bar.

We each have softened and changed countless hearts and minds simply by continuing to live our lives in the respectable manner in which we always have lived, but I think that sometimes we lose sight of the incredible opportunity we have to actively work to increase awareness, especially when it comes to the younger generation; my generation.

This is not to say that we should not continue to vigorously try and influence elected officials and those in power or seek out allies of all ages, but as President Obama showed during his campaign, the younger demographic can be mobilized into a powerful supporting voice for a cause. I cannot begin to count the number of friends and acquaintances that have asked me around campus, or over a text message or facebook conversation, “What can I do?”

Even here in Utah, support for equality is strong among the youth. The problem is unearthing those sentiments that lie buried in the hearts of young people who simply don’t know. They don’t know you can be fired or evicted in Utah for being gay or transgender. They don’t know of the struggles couples have trying to take care of each other and their children. They simply don’t know.

I am reminded of a poem by Nixon Waterman that perfectly underscores the sentiment behind the effort for education on LGBT issues:

If I knew you and you knew me,
If both of us could clearly see,

And with an inner sight divine,

The meaning of your heart and mine,

I'm sure that we would differ less,

And clasp our hands in friendliness;

Our thoughts would pleasantly agree,

If I knew you and you knew me.

And once they know, most are immediately willing and committed to lend a hand and add their voice. The onus then falls on us to do the educating. Whether it’s supporting a youth GSA in its efforts to reach out to their fellow students, using blogs and social networks to inform and invite participation, or simply being more willing to include the younger generation. We each can do something a little better to involve and work with the youth.

The generation that will lead the world tomorrow can be invaluable in changing the world today if we only inform, invite, and include them.

Isaac is is a fantastic Equality Utah volunteer and a student at Utah State University, studying political science.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's Right with Utah

Utah has an interesting political reputation, but Lisa Duggan has shown in her article "What's Right with Utah" that the Common Ground Initiative is real deal.

What's Right with Utah
By Lisa Duggan

"Forget everything you think you know about Utah. Yes, it's the reddest state in the union and the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). For the past twenty-five years, Republicans have had a virtual lock on statewide offices. Utah hasn't voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, and last year the state chose John McCain over Barack Obama by almost a 2-to-1 margin

But here in Salt Lake City, it's a different story. The city and surrounding counties are a lovely blue. The current and previous mayors--Ralph Becker and Rocky Anderson--are well-known progressive Democrats with excellent records on the environment, gay and civil rights, disability access and other municipal issues, and Salt Lake County, home to four of the five most populous cities in the state, went for Obama in 2008.

Then there's Salt Lake City's queer community, whose smart, creative and coalition-building strategies could provide a model for gay activists across the country". Read More

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ENDA introduced in the US House of Representatives!

As many of you know one of our Common Ground Initiative issues is a Fair Workplace. Right now it is legal in Utah for people to be fired from their jobs just because they’re gay or transgender. All Utahns should have the chance to provide for their families without fear of being unjustly fired for reasons that have nothing to do with ability to work.

Today Rep. Barney Frank D (MA-4), introduced the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) as well as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have both issued action alerts on this issue.

Visit their websites to find out how to contact your US Representative!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Federal Benefits are a Start

Some of you may have heard about President Obama extending some partner benefits to Federal Employees. Under this plan, Federal Employees can include their partners on their long-term care insurance and also take sick leave to care for their partners.

This plan is a step in the right direction; however it does not allow employees to share health insurance or retirement benefits. Below are a few articles about the plan and how it might affect some Utahns.

Utah's Gay Community: Federal Benefits are a Start
Salt Lake Tribune
June 18

Obama: More Benefits for Gay Workers Only One Step
Associated Press/KSL
June 18