The Couples from the Utah Marriage Equality Case
This year, Utah Pride has selected six Grand Marshals of the Utah Pride Festival. They are the three couples of Utah’s Amendment 3 marriage equality case: Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, and Kate Call and Karen Archer. By standing up for what is right, they have become a beacon of hope for the Utah LGBTQ community and for LGBTQ citizens all across the nation. Join in the celebration of the courage, determination and passion of these three couples as they all continue to work for marriage equality in the state of Utah.
Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen
Derek Kitchen grew up in South Jordan, Utah and attended the University of Utah. He remembers when Amendment 3 was on the ballot in 2004—at the time, the only thing he could do was change Vote Yes for Amendment 3 signs to say Vote No.
“I was directly affected by Amendment 3. I was 16 and the only way I knew how to express my concern was to change the yard signs. It was empowering,” he said.
His partner, Moudi Sbeity, was raised in Beirut, Lebanon. He moved to Utah in 2006 to attend Utah State University. Due to their shared love of cooking and food culture, Moudi and Derek started a business called Laziz, in which they provide Utah grocery stores with packaged Middle Eastern delicacies. Though they were both afraid of media backlash harming their business, they took a chance to share their story by being a part of the Amendment 3 court case.
Though Moudi worries for his family in Lebanon, he hopes his involvement will set an example.
“My hope is that my personal story reaches Lebanese shores and can be a part of a broader change in my home country,” he said.
Derek and Moudi were engaged Feb. 14, 2014, and their hope now is that Judge Shelby’s ruling will be upheld so they can start their married life together. They currently live in Salt Lake City with their dog, Goji.
Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge
Laurie Wood was raised in American Fork, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah. She taught in Utah County until 2004, when she moved to Salt Lake City. She currently teaches at Utah Valley University as an associate professor.
Speaking about why she decided to join the Amendment 3 case, Laurie said, “While on the ACLU board, I closely followed Nebo District’s firing of Wendy Weaver. She was incredibly brave; I wasn’t sure I could do what she did. But when this opportunity came along, I knew it was the right thing to do.”
Kody Partridge grew up in Montana, and moved to Utah in 1984 to attend Brigham Young University. Like her partner, Kody is also a teacher—she teaches at Rowland Hall, a private high school within walking distance of Kody and Laurie’s home in Salt Lake City. The couple was married Dec. 20, 2013, shortly after Judge Shelby handed down the verdict that rendered Amendment 3 unconstitutional.
Laurie’s and Kody’s work in the community and their connection to the Kitchen v. Herbert case is about fostering a better community. Kody says, “There are a lot of people, straight and gay, who feel a certain level of pride in what has happened in this state since Dec. 4 and more so since Dec. 20. This is about Utah reclaiming a new reputation – a new state, a state that welcomes diversity.”
Kate Call and Karen Archer
Kate Call spent her childhood in Mexico and Wisconsin, but did most of her growing up in Provo, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1974 and worked at University of Utah’s Rio Mesa Center.
Karen Archer was born in Maryland in 1946, but grew up in Boulder, Colo. She attended the University of Texas, where she received a bachelor’s and a medical degree. She would later complete her residency as an OB/GYN at Pennsylvania State University. Karen later developed two serious illnesses and had to retire in 2001.
The couple met online in 2010, and Karen moved to Southern Utah in 2011 to be with Kate. The couple has faced some of the biggest legal issues facing LGBTQ couples who are unable to be legally married—because of Karen’s health issues, end-of-life and survivor laws are at the forefront. That is why they joined the fight in the Amendment 3 case.
Kate and Karen were married in Iowa, July 7, 2011, but the state they call home refuses to recognize their marriage. “We wanted to get married in a state where it is legal so the moment marriage was legal in Utah, it would be in place,” said Kate.
They continue to stand up for the recognition of their marriage, along with the over 1,300 Utah same-sex marriages that were issued after Judge Shelby’s ruling.