Monday, January 26, 2009

Shifting the conversation

The dialog around gay rights in Utah has been distorted since the passage of Amendment 3 in 2004, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. While marriage equality is an important issue for many gay and transgender Utahns, it is not the only issue we’re concerned about.

The fact that a gay person can be fired from his job solely because he is gay has nothing to do with marriage.

The fact that a transgender person can be denied housing for no other reason than she is transgender has nothing to do with marriage.

The fact that a lesbian employee does not receive equal pay and benefits for equal work has nothing to with marriage.

In years past, some legislators resorted to a “voters across Utah settled these issues with Amendment 3” argument. That’s not going to work any more. We’re shifting the conversation.

Yes. Utahns passed Amendment 3 to clearly define marriage but they did not intend to keep their loved ones and neighbors from having basic rights. These basic rights are the focus of our Common Ground Initiative.

Nearly 70 percent of Utahns know someone who is gay or transgender and results from our recent poll indicate the average Utahn actually supports providing them with basic protections. This fact is further substantiated with results from the latest Salt Lake Tribune poll as well as the latest KSL – Deseret News poll.

2009 is our year of opportunity. Our Common Ground Initiative, with its focus on basic rights, has attracted a broad base of support, including members of many faith communities, yes, including active members of the LDS Church.

In this legislative session, we have an opportunity like never before. If we are to seize this moment, if we are to move toward a fair & just Utah, we must each own a portion of the work. Don’t wait. Talk to your legislators, today. Talk to your friends and family members and ask them to do the same, now. There is Common Ground. Let’s each do something to secure it and stand on it.

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