She expects the Legislature to be more moderate than it has been in recent years.
“If you talk with people who are looking at the next group of lawmakers, they expect this incoming group to be more moderate. We are seeing a turn toward more thoughtful and moderate lawmakers, regardless of party.”
Equality Utah is certainly riding a wave of momentum right now. Their annual Allies dinner was the biggest ever. A number of cities have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. The “Romney Tsunami,” which should usher in an even bigger supermajority of Republicans on the Hill this year, certainly could impede that. But, Balkin says more people are beginning to understand that equality is an issue that should transcend partisanship.
“The issue of equality doesn’t belong to one one group of people. Human rights should be important to all of our elected officials. As the cultural conversation moves forward, the issue becomes more non-partisan. This issue isn’t along political lines, or even along the lines of people of faith. It’s not progressive vs. conservative. These are false stereotypes. Most Utahns find themselves in between groups.”
Balkin acknowledges there is a perception that Equality Utah is largely seen as a Democratic organization. A recent Gallup poll found that 44% of LGBT Americans identify as Democrats while another 43% say they’re independent. Only 32% of non LGBT Americans say they’re Republicans.
“You’ll notice that a large number of LGBT Americans say they’re independent, and that fits well with Utah. Most Utahns are independent and that stays with us regardless of our sexual orientation. We want someone elected that will represent us to their best ability.”
If, as Balkin says, the issue is moving beyond party lines, why has the group endorsed only Democrats in the 2012 election? Not a single Republican appears on the organization’s list of “fair minded candidates.” She says the group has endorsed Republicans, but those will not be made public for a variety of reasons.
“Some candidates have expressed concern about how being attached to us would be received. Often times for us, having the opportunity to sit down with officials, no matter the level of office all the way up to the Governor, makes a difference. We are typical Utahns. We care about the same things.”
There is a very real possibility that following November’s elections, there will be no openly gay legislators in the state. Brian Doughty, who replaced Jackie Biskupski, lost his bid for a full term in convention.
“I would like to see a more representative democracy. Not just for the LGBT community, but for women and other minority populations. We have several out officials who are holding office in Utah, and there are always engaged and informed residents on the hill having a discussion.”
If Sen. Ben McAdams wins his bid for Salt Lake County Mayor, it is conceivable that his replacement could be openly gay. After all, McAdams replaced Scott McCoy, who was a member of the LGBT community. While that could bring diversity to the roster on the hill, it also would be a big blow to Equality Utah’s political agenda. McAdams is a powerful ally, having spearheaded Salt Lake City’s drive to pass a non-discrimination ordinance and has been working to make that statewide, which is high on the organization’s political agenda. Balkin says, regardless of what happens, momentum is building.
“The business community sees it as a priority and a growing number of Utah residents support it. There is an understanding about the good things the passage of that bill would do. This is not only an opportunity, but a responsibility for the legislature.”
This is absolutely amazing.
The Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen unearths video from 1956 of a man who was an eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Let me say that again. A man who saw with his own eyes the killing of Abraham Lincoln was on the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1956.
Inside little league football:
The dream of an undefeated season comes to an end for the Jordan Maroon Mity Mites. They fall to the Alta White team 7-6. Despite holding the Alta offense to no points, a blocked punt that went for a touchdown was their undoing.
Next up is Bingham Black, then the playoffs start against Riverton.
“Politics is the only field which the character of a person does not stand in the way of his career.” ~ Peter Prange