[Utah Legislature 2009]Equality Utah, eager to see the 2009 Utah Legislature adopt its "Common Ground Initiative" of six gay rights bills, will sponsor an evening of citizen lobbyist training Thursday.
The free workshop runs from 6 to 8 p.m. in Room 445 of the State Capitol. Anyone interested in lobbying for human rights issues in Utah is enthusiastically encouraged to attend, says Keri Jones, program manager with Equality Utah.
State Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, will be on hand to advise the best ways to approach lawmakers and to discuss the Common Ground Initiative--which includes proposals for fair housing, workplace and inheritance rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people. Equality Utah will also be running a gay adoption bill again.
Salt Lake City Democratic Reps. Jennifer Seelig, Christine Johnson and Rebecca Chavez-Houck will also discuss the Common Ground bills they are sponsoring.
I asked Equality Utah's Jones why Utahns sympathetic to gay causes should even attend, given the openly hostile environment toward GLBT folks from so many neanderthals on the Hill. And why should they care, given the fact that Utahns did their own big part to fund the passage of Proposition 8 in California.
"Largely because of the marriage debate [in Hawaii and later California], Americans are now faced with questions of what protections should be available to loving [same-sex] couples. Utah hasn't answered that question and it's time for us to do so," Jones says.
Some of the bills in question will require widespread legislative support and "may not pass this year," says a hopeful Jones. "But we remain optimistic and ready to work hard."
Whether you're gay or straight, you may want to give these folks a hand. Strength in numbers and all of that. They'll save a chair for you Thursday night at the Capitol. (Holly Mullen)