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The Straight Line

It takes a community

The past few months have seen tremendous strides in the struggle for equality in Utah – as well as tremendous pushback.

In December, Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s Amendment 3.  In response, the Utah Legislature imposed a moratorium on LGBT-related bills for this session, killing Senator Steven Urquhart’s (R-St. George) nondiscrimination bill (SB100) before it could even be assigned to a committee for hearing.

As the legislature winds down this year’s session it has become obvious to anyone with a pulse that it will require outside pressure from the federal government or the courts to create lasting and meaningful change in Utah.  That is why we, as a community, need to support the grassroots efforts of Restore Our Humanity.

Restore Our Humanity is the group headed by Mark Lawrence that brought the suit against Amendment 3 to federal court. This is the group that was responsible for creating that 17-day window in Utah law that allowed over 1,200 couples to legally marry in the state of Utah. This is the group that, for some unknown reason, has not received the support of large national equality groups that one would normally expect in this type of action.

Restore Our Humanity is truly a grassroots community effort. The majority of their funding, to date, has come from individual donors or community-based fundraising events. Litigation is expensive. The State of Utah expects to pay $2 million to fight this case all the way to the Supreme Court, which doesn’t include the hours that will be spent by attorneys, paralegals and assistants in the Attorney General’s office.

The Kitchen v. Herbert case, as this has come to be known, could very well be the tipping point for marriage equality in America. Unfortunately, as with all things legal and political in today’s America, a great deal of money is required to make our voices heard.

Fortunately, however, if we come together as a community we can make this happen. We’ve seen this community come together. We’ve seen events where hundreds of people have gathered in support of equality. Can we extend that commitment into a serious grassroots fundraising effort? I think we can.

Restore Our Humanity has kicked off a new campaign, 145. That’s 1 million people 4 $5. If they can hit this goal they will have all of the money needed to carry this case to the Supreme Court of the United States, and we all know that is exactly what this is going to take. The governor and attorney general of Utah have already declared they will continue fight to keep bigotry and discrimination enshrined in Utah law as long as they can. They will spend our tax dollars to keep this community in a second-class status.  Will you forgo an overpriced coffee or fast-food lunch to help end this discrimination?

As this case moves forward to the April 10 appeal hearing and ultimately to the Supreme Court, it will become increasingly important for this community to come together behind the plaintiffs, the attorneys and the organization. This brave group has accomplished more than anyone dared to dream possible in just one year. They brought us a renewed hope for change and progress.

It is time now for us to show them, and each other, the real power we have when we come together as a community. It is time for us, as a community, to carry this home for all Americans. Change comes from the commitment of dedicated people and the communities that come together to support them. We have the dedicated people, we have a caring and committed community. Now we need to put that together and create the change we desire.


About the author

Bob Henline

Bob Henline is the Assistant Editor of QSalt Lake Magazine, as well as a columnist and social/political activist and amateur chef.

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