Equality – Alliance for a Better Utah

Equality

The Beehive State has surprised the nation more than a few times – Salt Lake City ranks as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country, and we elected our first female state senator in 1896 – but we still have a long way to go. Utah ranks 47th in the nation the percentage of women in elected office. Our hate crime laws are vague and ineffective; recent efforts to strengthen the language have been only weakly supported. Local government officials have openly refused to retract racist statements.

Every Utahn deserves to lead a safe and productive life, regardless of their gender, sexual identity, or the color of their skin.

Women in Politics Panel

The ABU Education Fund hosted a panel discussing the limitations women face when becoming involved in politics and how to surmount those challenges.

Latest Blog Posts and News

#BelieveSurvivors

I was going to tell you my sexual assault story. But I can’t. It’s not that I can’t bring myself to tell it. IT’S THAT I DON’T HAVE ONE. I’ve got nothing, nada, zip. No one has ever made me feel uncomfortable, made a suggestion that made me wince, used their power over me, and…

Press Release: Better Utah Statement Regarding Senate Judiciary Committee Vote

PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 28, 201 BETTER UTAH STATEMENT REGARDING SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE VOTE Salt Lake City, UT – Today, Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee joined nine of their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to recommend Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate for a confirmation vote to the Supreme Court of…

Reflections on Montgomery

I have driven down through the state of Alabama approximately 34 times in my life. Every summer and nearly every Christmas, my family would pile into our Chevy Venture and head deep south to visit my grandparents in Vancleave, Mississippi. That trip was the most consistent part of my childhood. Last week, I returned to…

16 states to Supreme Court: Let us fire people for being transgender

This article originally appeared in Think Progress. Read it in its entirety here A group of sixteen states has filed a brief calling on the Supreme Court to rule that it’s legal to fire people for being transgender. In the amicus brief filed Friday, the states recommended the Court consider R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc….

Utah’s attorney general defends his backing of a federal case seeking to roll back LGBTQ job protections

This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is defending his decision to join legal efforts before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of limiting job protections for LGBTQ workers. With Reyes’ authorization, Utah has joined Nebraska and 14 other states in urging…

Utah Attorney General criticized for backing repeal of LGBTQ employment protections

This article originally appeared on Fox13now.com. Read it in is entirety here . SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is being criticized for signing on to a legal filing supporting a rollback of employment protections for LGBTQ people. The liberal-leaning think tank Alliance for a Better Utah criticized Reyes for signing an amicus asking…

Press Release: Sean Reyes Signs Anti-LGBTQ Amicus Brief

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2018 SEAN REYES SIGNS ANTI-LGBTQ AMICUS BRIEF Salt Lake City, UT – Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined other Republican attorneys general in signing an amicus brief seeking to reverse federal LGBTQ employment discrimination protections. The amicus brief, which can be found here, was submitted to the…

Press Release: Federal judge orders San Juan County to put Utah Navajo activist Willie Grayeyes back on the ballot

A federal judge has ruled that San Juan County officials improperly invalidated the candidacy of Willie Grayeyes, a Navajo Democrat running for County Commission. After a hearing Tuesday in Moab, Grayeyes’ attorney, Steven Boos, said U.S. District Judge David Nuffer restored the candidate’s voting rights and ordered his name back onto the November ballot. Grayeyes’ name…

Who is Fighting for ‘Religious Freedom?’

On June 4th, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado, in his decision to deny a same-sex couple one of his wedding cakes on the basis that it went against his religious beliefs. The couple filed with the Colorado Civil…

Press Release: San Juan County Officials Accused of Mistreating Political Opponent

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2018 SAN JUAN COUNTY OFFICIALS ACCUSED OF MISTREATING POLITICAL OPPONENT Salt Lake City, UT – Today, Democratic candidate for the San Juan County Commission Willie Grayeyes filed suit in response to his removal from the November ballot by the county clerk. The lead defendant is  Lt. Gov. Spencer…

Protesters rally in Salt Lake against U.S. immigration poilicy

SALT LAKE CITY — About 50 people rallied outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office downtown Friday afternoon, protesting a new “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separates families trying to cross the southwest border. “Today, nearly 200 rallies across the nation are coming together,” María del Mar Gonzáles, a community outreach fellow for ACLU Utah, said to…

Your step-by-step guide to not sexually harassing in the workplace

Utah continues to reel from the aftershocks of workplace sexual harassment allegations. Last week it was Sandy Police Chief Kevin Thacker. Also last week? The Davis County Sheriff’s Department. This comes on the heels of the former Provo Police Chief John King scandal in Provo, which followed the allegations against Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves….

Utah’s #MeToo Moment

He called me into his office to discuss something unimportant. My boss, the owner of the small business where I worked at the front desk, would regularly hold meetings in his small office. I walked in; he stood next to me with his hand on the doorknob and closed the door behind me. As he…

Legislators Turn a Deaf Ear to Native Voices

After the legislature’s call to rescind Bears Ears led the Outdoor Retailer trade show to relocate to Colorado, one would think our representatives would handle future land decisions more carefully and listen to constituents. Including input from those who occupy these lands and consider them sacred is not only the right thing to do, it’s…

From a Person of Faith to the Legislature

Faith leaders throughout the state joined together to sign a letter in regards to S.B. 86, “Victim Selection Penalty Enhancement,” sponsored by Sen. Thatcher. They urged legislators to support the legislation, emphasizing the need for Utah to remain a place of safety and refuge for all groups of people. The list of signatories includes leaders...

City Weekly: XX Marks the Spot

This article originally appeared in City Weekly. To see the original article, click here.  Carol Surveyor, a member of Utah League of Native American Voters and congressional candidate for the 2nd District, says her mother’s death propelled her into the political sphere. Surveyor’s mother was slain on a reservation in 2015, and she was buried…

ABC 4 Utah: Preview of Women in Politics Panel

Laura Boyer, Better Utah’s policy and advocacy counsel, joined ABC 4 to talk about our Women in Politics Panel held Monday, November 13.

Media Advisory: Better Utah Hosts Women in Politics Panel

MEDIA ADVISORY REQUEST FOR COVERAGE: November 13, 2017 | 6:00 PM CONTACT: Laura Boyer | Alliance for a Better Utah | laura@betterutah.org BETTER UTAH HOSTS WOMEN IN POLITICS PANEL Salt Lake City, UT – The Alliance for a Better Utah will host a panel this coming Monday, November 13 with a moderated discussion focusing on the…

The Unnatural Disaster of Harvey Weinstein

How many victims does it take for a sex offender to become widely and publically vilified for his actions? In the case of Harvey Weinstein, the magic number is at least fifty-two. Since the October 5th appearance of a New York Times article that merely reported the eight known settlements that Harvey Weinstein has reached…

Finding the Silver Lining and – To My Dismay – the Crafting Supplies

There are a range of topics I could talk about with everything happening in the news. As a former Environmental Studies major, I’m drawn to articles addressing climate change and the current administration’s war against science. But - I’m going to spare you and tell a story instead. I’ve always been an eternal optimist -...

How do we as Utahns respond to DACA?

To say I was disappointed by the Trump administration's announcement today ending DACA would be an understatement. I’m sad that so many of my friends--here in Utah where I live, in Arizona where I grew up, in Texas where I served a spanish-speaking mission, and across the nation--may face the possibility of being ejected from...

The Transgender Military Ban Flouts Equal Protection

On Friday August 25th, Donald Trump signed a memo ordering the military to prohibit any open transgender individual from joining the military. Despite the fact that Secretary of Defense James Mattis was supposed to complete a 6-month time to study the impact of transgender people on the military, the President, as he often does, decided…

Low wages, little savings among many Utah families

Source: The Spectrum By many measures, Utah maintains the nation’s healthiest economy, with unemployment below the national average, some of the fastest job growth in the U.S. and a reputation for both hard-working employees and high rates of entrepreneurs. But like the rest of the U.S., the state still has large numbers of families stuck…

Utah unions, education advocates organizing march in response to Trump, DeVos policies

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Utah’s largest unions will join with political advocates this weekend to stage a march in downtown Salt Lake City in support of public education. The demonstration is in response to the school-related policies and budget proposals of President Donald Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to Brad Asay,…

June 2017 Interim Session – Boards, Commissions, Campaign Finance, and Poll Watchers Update

Government Operations Interim Committee – June 21 Review of Boards and Commissions with Legislative Participation To help make policy, the Legislature depends heavily on boards and commissions. These entities cover a variety of issues and policy areas, such as healthcare on the Health Reform Task Force, public lands on the Commission for the Stewardship of…

Letter: A praiseworthy step

Source: Deseret News On May 2, Orrin Hatch, alongside Democratic California Senator Diane Feinstein, proposed the Protecting Religious Affiliated Institutions Act, a bill that would make threats to obstruct the free worship of any religious group — including to deface or destroy mosques, synagogues, or churches — a federal crime. This is a praiseworthy and…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LEGISLATURE FOR COMMITTING TO PROTECT CIVIL LIBERTIES OF ALL PEOPLE

Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Utah House of Representatives voted to follow their colleagues in the Senate in passing SCR 6, “Concurrent Resolution on Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms of All American People.” Only a few days after President Trump instituted a travel ban limiting the admittance of refugees from specific countries…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CALLS ON UTAH’S FEDERAL DELEGATION TO DENOUNCE EXECUTIVE ORDER ON REFUGEES AND IMMIGRATION

Salt Lake City, UT – Good government group, Alliance for a Better Utah, called on members of Utah’s federal delegation to join Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain in immediately denouncing the recent executive order issued by the Trump Administration freezing the admission of refugees and immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries. As noted by…

Sundance: Thousands brave poor weather to join March On Main

Source: Screen Daily Main Street was inundated during Saturday’s March On Main as approximately 4,000 people according to police estimates took over Park City. Marchers resisted the snow and low temperatures to bear placards in support of women’s rights, the environment and healthcare as a strong anti-Donald Trump sentiment rippled through the crowd. At time…

Sundance: Chelsea Handler, John Legend, More Converge on Main Street for Anti-Trump March

Source: Billboard Some thousands of women and men converged on Main Street on Saturday morning (Jan. 21) for a Park City sister march and rally that called for the respect of human rights with regards to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigration and health care. Brandishing signs that read “Make America Compassionate Again” and “We Live…

Sundance: Chelsea Handler, John Legend, More Converge on Main Street for Anti-Trump March

Sources: Yahoo! Movies, Yahoo! Music More than 4,000 women and men converged Saturday morning on Main Street in Park City, Utah, for a sister march and rally calling for the respect of human rights in the face of a Donald Trump presidency. Brandishing signs that read “Make America Compassionate Again” and “We Live in Trumpled…

When Women Run, Women Win

Source: City Weekly My big idea for 2016 as a reporter was to follow a woman running for office for the first time in Utah: to be there when she filed for candidacy, to follow along as she crossed manicured lawns to knock on suburban household doors asking for support, to sit in the war…

Chelsea Handler to lead Sundance Film Festival women’s march

Source: Xposé Comedienne Chelsea Handler and director Ava DuVernay will lead a women’s rights protest march through the streets of Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. The Women’s March on Main, which will take place on 21 January (17), will be a sister march to the larger rally taking place in Washington, D.C….

Park City Braces for Women’s March During Sundance

Source: The Hollywood Reporter and Yahoo! Movies With Hollywood heading to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival beginning Jan. 19, thousands are expected to take to the snowy streets of Park City on Jan. 21 for the Women’s March on Main, a sister march to the rally taking place in Washington the day after Donald…

Heber City lawmaker confirmed as judge despite concerns from LGBT community

Source: The Daily Herald A Heber City lawmaker has been confirmed as a new Fourth District Court judge despite concerns from the LGBT community about past legislation. State Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, was confirmed Wednesday on a unanimous 25-0 vote of the Utah Senate during a special legislative session to take the bench of retiring…

Utah lawmaker changes LGBT leader’s mind, clears committee on way to becoming judge

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A Senate committee on Monday voted to recommend that a Heber City lawmaker be seated as a state judge despite concerns raised by Utah gay-rights activists who questioned whether Kraig Powell could treat their community fairly. In January, Powell proposed bills to label same-sex unions as “pairage” — instead of marriage —…

Committee approves judge nominee despite LGBT concerns

Source: KSL SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker who proposed legislation that drew fire from the LGBT community received a unanimous recommendation Monday from a state Senate committee to be confirmed as a judge. Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, apologized during a Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee hearing, saying he was “truly sorry for the offense…

LDS Church influence on Utah lawmakers subtle but significant

Source: Fox 13 SALT LAKE CITY — Ten minutes. That’s the time it takes to walk from the Utah State Capitol to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A forum at the Hinckley Institute of Politics sponsored by the Alliance for a Better Utah discussed the influence of the religion on…

LDS Dems pitch ‘pro-family’ report to attract Utah voters

Source: Deseret News Looking to capitalize on Utahns’ distaste for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the LDS Democratic caucus put out a “pro-family” report Wednesday that the group says more closely reflects the state’s values. Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said LDS Dems can’t in good conscience call themselves pro-family unless they’re looking out…

Letter: Mero is right about Republican failings

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune They say even a broken clock is right twice a day. As the founder of the Alliance for a Better Utah, I have agreed with Paul Mero, former head of the self-proclaimed conservative Sutherland Institute, on few things. But Mero and Sutherland were important and stalwart supporters of sensible immigration…

Op-ed: White people must not leave Black Lives Matter movement to others

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A little over a year and a half ago, my college campus was abuzz with Black Lives Matter dialogue following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson and the shooting of Tamir Rice. As a young, white woman with an upper-middle class background whose parents were paying for her private, liberal arts…

Op-ed: Utah politicians must do more to prevent future Malheurs

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune On June 20, the Senate voted down gun reforms supported by a majority of the American people: universal background checks and closing the “terror gap” (preventing individuals on terrorist watch lists from legally purchasing firearms). Three days later, Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., led a “sit-in” on the floor of the…

Equality Utah’s Troy Williams Reacts to the Orlando Shooting

Source: Utah Public Radio A vigil was held Monday night in Salt Lake City in remembrance of the victim’s of the Orlando Shooting. Troy Williams is the executive director for Equality Utah, an LGBTQ rights group that hosted the event. He said he was initially shocked to hear about the Orlando shooting. “And then the…

Kansas Supreme Court Orders Lawmakers To Fix School Funding That’s Biased Against Poor Districts

Source: Think Progress Kansas’ temporary school funding law is biased against poorer school districts, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday, aligning with a lower court’s decision. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit from four school districts that cited “wealth-based disparities” as the reason for poorer school districts’ insufficient school funding. The state’s 2015…

OpEd: Utah’s hate crime law isn’t working. Here’s how we fix it.

On July 24, 1847, our pioneer ancestors arrived in Utah’s Great Salt Lake Valley. They were fleeing persecution and sought a safe refuge to practice their religion without fear for their lives. Our state was formed by those seeking refuge from religious-motivated hate crimes. Over 150 years later, in 1992, Utah adopted its first hate-crime…

OpEd: By its actions, Utah shows it undervalues its children

Several years ago I was invited, by the head of a private school, to enter the teaching profession. I am a working artist and, having seen colleagues distracted from their art by their teaching, had previously avoided that route. I do enjoy working with kids, though, and had an interest in sharing the sense of…

Better Utah commends Judge Scott Johansen for his decision to retire

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 Better Utah commends Judge Scott Johansen for his decision to retire – – – – – Salt Lake City, Utah – Late last week, Judge Scott Johansen retired from his position with the Seventh District Juvenile Court system. Judge Johansen’s retirement comes after a number of Johansen’s controversial…

OpEd: Planned Parenthood shooter shows that politicians should choose words carefully

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” – Buddha Put simply, words matter. Whether you are trying to help your child navigate growing up, or convince a family member that you are right, how we communicate to each other…

How To Talk To Your Crazy Uncle At Thanksgiving About Syrian Refugees

America is a nation of immigrants – built on a long, proud history of aiding persecuted people. The Statue of Liberty—the Mother of Exiles—welcomes millions seeking a safe haven with the comforting words, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Over the past few years, more than 4 million…

Impeach Judge Scott N. Johansen

SIGN THE PETITION!   If Judge Johansen wants to act like Judge Judy, then he should get a reality TV show. In the meantime, his past and present conduct is unbecoming of a judicial officer. On November 11th, Judge Johansen ordered that a child be removed from the home of a married lesbian couple, claiming…

I’m a Mormon and I Stand with Planned Parenthood #standwithPP

Board member of Alliance for a Better UTAH– Crystal Young-Otterstrom–explains why she stands behind Planned Parenthood after efforts to de-fund the women’s health organization.

Some personal thoughts on groundbreaking nondiscrimination legislation

As the world’s front runner in many categories, I’m afraid that the US also leads the race in marginalizing many groups of people. Utah is late to the train of reversing this fact. Rep. Sandra Hollins testified to the collective shame that ought to be felt in dealing with this in 2015. I heard the word…

Marriage equality in Utah will unify, not divide

Salt Lake City — In light of this morning’s news from the Supreme Court, Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better UTAH, has issued a statement. Better UTAH submitted an amicus brief in support of marriage equality when Utah’s case was heard before the 10th Circuit. “We share in the joy thousands of…

Southern Utah University kowtows to political extremists

Everyone should go to Southern Utah University. I did. It’s nestled between Utah’s stunning National Parks and there is no winter inversion. There are generous staff members and award-winning faculty. The class sizes are small and tuition is affordable. There’s also the Tony Award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival. I’m wondering, however, if the promises of SUU…

Lessons of Ferguson for Salt Lake City

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Ferguson, Missouri looks like a war zone. You can’t turn on the news without seeing angry citizens facing off against well-armed police officers. Tensions are high, people are being arrested, and at least one young black teenager…

On political end zone dances

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– When a football player makes a touchdown they sometimes perform what is known as an end zone dance.  The player is excited, they just scored a goal, they want to revel a bit, so many of them…

Haters gonna hate

There is a saying, “If you don’t have enemies, you’re not doing it right.” You never know what is going to make people react. We’ve been around now for over three years. We’ve worked on redistricting, guns, sex-ed, corruption in the Attorney General’s office, less-than-ethical elected officials, just to name a few. But it took…

Exclusive analysis of 10th Circuit’s marriage equality ruling

Last week the 10th Circuit ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. For most of us with day jobs, reading through the full 108-page ruling is an unlikely undertaking. We asked Courtney Bowman, one of the attorneys who helped draft our own amicus brief in the case, to provide an insider summary. This summary can also be…

Hobby Lobby ruling a blow for individual rights

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– The nation’s highest court made waves yesterday by ruling that the religious rights of male company owners outweigh the reproductive rights of the women who work for them. Yes, I’m perhaps being a bit sensational on this…

George Will, male privilege and sexual assault

In his June 6th syndicated column, Washington Post columnist George Will said, “Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous, and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” The ink had barely…

Anarchy is Recapture Canyon trespassers and Cliven Bundy, not marriage equality

Salt Lake City–Various news outlets have reported that Gov. Gary Herbert has called the choice by some states not to defend gay marriage bans as a step toward anarchy. The Alliance for a Better UTAH, which aims to bring balance, transparency and accountability to Utah politics, has released the following statement on Gov. Herbert’s position:…

For Utah Gov. gay marriage is a giant worth fighting

Pennsylvania’s conservative governor announced Wednesday that he will not appeal a federal court decision that invalidated his state’s gay marriage ban because he believes an appeal has little chance of succeeding. Meanwhile, Utah’s politically similar Gov. Gary Herbert, along with Attorney General Sean Reyes, has continued his crusade against gay marriage in an effort that is quickly becoming quixotic….

A fair wage for Mother’s Day

Mother’s’ Day has come and gone, but Utah Moms, despite an abundance of fresh flowers in their homes, still experience disadvantages that Moms across the United States don’t experience. Senators Hatch and Lee should account for this disparity. Since they won’t, here is a letter I imagined them sending out to Utah Moms over the…

On rape: Don’t be that guy

This image popped up in my Facebook feed the other day. I had to read it twice because after the first read I thought, “There’s no way I read that correctly.” It is long past time for us to stop shaming women who are raped. We should be appalled that this is even a discussion…

A woman’s place is in the House (and the Senate)

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– We’ve entered the last week of Women’s History Month. An entire month devoted to honoring, understanding and telling the stories of women. In Utah, the month has been marked by exhibits at the University of Utah and…

A Hobby Lobby win would encourage discrimination in Utah

A decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in today’s Supreme Court oral arguments could point to increased opportunities for discrimination in Utah and across the country. Maryann Martindale joined with leaders of Equality Utah and Planned Parenthood to discuss in a weekend op-ed what the high court’s ruling on women’s health could mean for a…

Alliance for a Better UTAH files amicus brief in Amendment 3 appeal

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH filed a friend of the court brief today in support of District Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that Utah’s Amendment 3 violates the U.S. Constitution. Maryann Martindale, executive director, has released the following statement: “Utah’s political system, dominated as it is by one political…

Death of SB100 is birth of new LGBT movement in Utah

At first glance, the little blue notes taped on the Utah Senate doors earlier this month–a plea from Utah’s LGBT community to allow a fair and public hearing of the now-dead SB100–bear only a superficial resemblance to the ninety-five theses Martin Luther posted on the doors of All Saints’ Church. However, like Luther’s theses, those…

Bill to acknowledge Utah’s native history passes Senate

I support SJR1, Joint Resolution on Museum Recognizing Atrocities Against American Indians. History is multi-perspective. Growing up on the Navajo Indian reservation in Northern Arizona I was taught in school that the Navajo people were hunters, gatherers and farmers, not warriors. This perspective never sat well with me. I saw differently. I felt differently. Then…

Better UTAH to file amicus brief in Amendment 3 appeal

Salt Lake City — Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH announced today it will file a friend of the court brief in support of District Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that Utah’s Amendment 3 violates the U.S. Constitution. Maryann Martindale, executive director, has released the following statement: “Our decision to file an amicus brief…

Power is difficult to come by in politics

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– We hear a lot about power today. Who has it. Who doesn’t have it. Who wants it. Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune has twice devoted column space in the last week to discussing power, first…

Kanter: We need a reasoned tone in same-sex marriage debate

The debate over same-sex marriage has brought out the very worst in some of us. The Editorial Board at the Standard-Examiner is the exception. Josh Kanter, founder of Better UTAH, discussed the Standard-Examiner’s approach to ensuring civil, Utah values-based discussion of same-sex marriage in a recent op-ed. In what should be required reading for all…

Prisons and jails are separate for good reasons

Prison policy, after years of neglect, is finally drawing more attention as both sides of the political aisle find areas of common ground. The topic has received additional attention in Utah due to discussions about moving the state prison from its current location in Draper. Increasingly important in these conversations are the roles of jails…

After 18 days, no straights harmed by gay marriage

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– The world didn’t end when marriage equality was instituted in Utah for a grand total of 18 days. In fact, for a state that has long had a love affair with marriage, it’s really not too surprising…

Utah marriage equality will never be theoretical again

Amidst all the legal and political wrangling over marriage equality in Utah, it can be easy to forget that we’re talking about the lives of real people. This oversight was made particularly poignant for me after reading this op-ed in Sunday’s edition of the Salt Lake Tribune. Written by Tom Clark, a photographer who has made…

All Utahns equal with Amendment 3 ruling

Salt Lake City — Following the ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, Alliance for a Better UTAH released the following statement: “We are pleased and supportive of the ruling by Judge Shelby to overturn Utah’s discriminatory Amendment 3. For almost a decade, Utahns in loving, committed relationships have had to live as second-class…

Distortions abound as LGBT rights are debated in Utah

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters who live in Utah has been in the news in a big way in recent weeks. Perhaps the most interesting news has revolved around the challenge to Utah’s regressive…

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Utahns will gather today in Taylorsville to honor members of the transgender community who lost their lives to violence over the last year. The international Transgender Day of Remembrance, which today enters its 15th year, began in San Francisco in 1998 after Rita Hester, a trans-woman, was stabbed to death in her apartment in the…

More women in politics, less ideology

I read an op-ed in the Deseret News this past weekend about women in decision making roles in Utah. It was written by Natalie Gochnour, the chief economist for the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce. The editorial highlighted the many reasons why we need more women in politics and leadership positions. “Why is feminine…

Op-Ed: Urquhart deserves LGBT praise, but there’s much to be done

Troy Williams, KRCL producer and new Better UTAH board member, warned LGBT Utahns against single issue voting in an op-ed that ran over the weekend in the Salt Lake Tribune. It is true that the LGBT community needs support from thoughtful legislators like Urquhart, but just as Urquhart has weighed the political risk of his actions,…

Small town pride festivals play important role

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Every summer I have heard the same thing–why do gay people celebrate Pride. As gay people have become more and more open and visibility and acceptance has increased, I hear this question even more frequently. It is…

Gay rights are dead. Long live gay rights.

Marriage equality is inevitable. It might take a little longer to get to Utah, but there will be marriage equality here within the decade, if not sooner. As the chief goal of the gay rights movement since the early 2000s reaches completion, the question becomes: what next? Is this the end of gay rights? The…

Pride comes to Provo

Provo might be an unlikely place to be hosting an LGBT Pride Festival, but it’s about time it does. With two large universities at its door step, this Utah city of over 100,000 has enough progressively minded people to no doubt make the Sept. 21 festival a resounding success. That is, if they can keep the…

Racism has no place in Utah political discourse

Better UTAH Beat Episode 60 – August 13, 2013 There is a well-known Old Testament passage that the more morally obsequious among us are fond of trotting out these days. According to the old prophet, the latter days are to be marked by a series of extreme moral confusions. People will “call evil good, and…

Straights: Be gay-for-a-day to help Russian queers

The Russian government has intensified its assault on gay and trans Russians as the world looks on in horror. Meanwhile, gays and their allies in the United States are feeling helpless even as the media is awash with ideas for helping end the violence against our gay and trans brothers and sisters in Russia. From…

What gay rights leaders can learn from the Canaanite woman

There is great faith among members of Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Faith that municipal non-discrimination ordinances will lead to full equality. Faith that mutual commitment registries like those in Salt Lake City, and now Salt Lake County, will lead to full equality. One could argue that this faith has something in common with…

My view: Helping ‘undocumented Americans’

Better UTAH intern Diya Shah argued for compassionate immigration reform in an OpEd in today’s Deseret News. Utahns are known for their caregiving. I am not surprised that the Utah Compact that humanizes undocumented immigrants and was praised by Obama, is a creation of Utahns. Individuals brought into the United States as children are as American…

On being in favor of marriage equality

The last two weeks featured a series of prominent politicians who have come out in favor of marriage equality. As of this writing, there are only three senate Democrats who oppose same-sex marriage. Even two Republican senators have voiced their support for marriage equality. This trend is likely to continue. Nate Silver has run the…

LGBT Utahns deserve protection

Two things that I have been waiting awhile for happened at the end of last week.  On Thursday Congress finally passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act; the next day the nondiscrimination in employment and housing for the LGBT community (SB262) was introduced in the state Senate. On the one hand, these events…

We can end discrimination against LGBT Utahns

Yesterday a few fellow students and I spent the afternoon working with Equality Utah to inform Westminster students about the need for a bill to protect LGBT Utahns from housing and employment discrimination. I was surprised to see how many of my friends, who are politically informed individuals, did not know that you could be…

Persistence is key to progress in Utah

There are several bills this legislative session that might sound familiar. That’s because they’ve all been up at the legislature before. They get introduced every year in hopes this might be the year that there is finally a breakthrough. Three such bills this session are the Dating Violence Act, modifications to adoption policy, and a…

Cities of Harrisville and Springdale Honored with 2012 Better Beehive Award

Salt Lake City — Each day this week the Alliance for a Better UTAH will announce a winner of its 2012 Better Beehive Awards. The award recognizes five notable Utahns and groups for their progressive efforts this year. The second winner of the Better Beehive goes to the cities of Springdale and Harrisville for enacting…

Chick-fil-A; a side order of free speech please

We have been watching with interest a growing controversy. A few weeks ago, as you will recall, the President of Chik-fil-A, Dan Cathy, publicly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage. Since then, nationwide polling has shown that Chick-fil-A’s popularity has taken a 40% dive. It has long been known that Chik-fil-A was a family-owned company…

“Defense of Marriage Act” Struck Down By Courts, Upholding States’ Rights Argument

Yesterday, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was once again struck down by the courts. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken became the 3rd judge to rule that DOMA, or provisions of DOMA, violate not only the civil rights of citizens, but also the right of states to decide for themselves who can be legally married….

Press Release: Hatch & Lee Vote Against Bill Protecting Women

Hatch & Lee Vote Against Bill Protecting Women __________________________________________ Washington DC – Utah GOP Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee joined a minority of Senators today in voting against reauthorizing the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The vote passed in the US Senate with 87 votes, with Hatch and Lee representing two of the…