Late last month our favorite comical tragedy opened it’s annual six-week run on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Normally, I’d be writing an annual rant about the idiocy spewing from our elected employees and lamenting the lack of anything resembling balance in our government, but a dear friend advised me to try being lighthearted this time. In his honor I’m going to highlight a few of the little things that give me hope for the future that our legislature is working so hard to delay.
Of the things I’ve seen happen so far in 2014, the one thing that really stands out happened at the one event I work hardest to avoid: the Sundance Film Festival. I’m not going to bash Sundance, but it’s just not my thing, and I certainly don’t want to go to Park City and fight my way through ginormous crowds for something that’s not my thing. So I avoid it.
This year, however, something different happened. The Gay-Straight Alliance of Park City High School decided to brave the freezing weather and sell coffee, hot chocolate, water, etc. … to the festival-goers to raise funds for their activities. As it turns out, they did pretty well with this fundraiser. Well enough, in fact, that they donated $1,000 to Restore Our Humanity, the group behind the lawsuit against Utah’s unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In the memo line of the big cardboard check they wrote “For: Our Future.”
While we’re on the topic of fundraisers, watching this community come out in droves to support Restore Our Humanity and Utah’s crop of newlyweds at the Love Elevated reception was also particularly moving. In 11 days QSalt Lake, LeCroissant Catering, X96, The Rail Events Center, and a host of other sponsors and volunteers pulled off a grand reception for the newlyweds. In the process, $25,000 was raised to help pay the legal bills in the Kitchen v. Herbert case.
Then came the opening of the legislative session. As expected, the reactionary message bills and hate noise started piling up. Then House and Senate (Republican) leadership announced that they wouldn’t allow floor debates on any marriage-related bills They included Senator Steve Urquhart’s (R-St. George) nondiscrimination bill, SB100, in that moratorium.
Senator Urquhart, in response, launched his own campaign, Operation Blue Note, that resulted in hundreds of notes being taped to doors of the Senate chambers demanding that SB100 be heard and debated. A little bit more hope.
Following that, a small group of activists blockaded the doors to the governor’s office holding signs demanding Utah end discrimination and pass SB100. After hours of blocking the doors, the protestors were arrested and taken to Salt Lake County Jail on charges of disruption of a public meeting (Class B misdemeanor) and disorderly conduct (Class C misdemeanor).
Some may argue, but to me, civil disobedience is the very essence of the exercise of free speech and association. A little more hope shines through.
We’re not even three months into 2014, and in response to setbacks we’ve seen a new resolve. We’ve seen renewed commitments to change, and we’ve seen the next generation take a bold step into the world they’ll inherit.
They may be little things, but they lead to bigger things: hope and change.