Equality Utah to Offer 2008 Lobbyist Training

It’s an election year again, which means it’s also time again for local gay rights group Equality Utah delegate training workshop.

This year’s workshop will be held Saturday, March 15 at the Salt Lake County Complex’s North Building (2001 S State Street) from 10:00 a.m. to noon. As in years past, it will focus not on training participants how to lobby their representatives, but how to become representatives themselves – the representatives who elect candidates at county and state party conventions.

The two-hour training session will discuss the process of becoming a delegate and how this process differs between legislative districts.

This year’s guest speaker will be Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Salt Lake City, who sponsored a bill that sought to let gay and lesbian couples adopt children in this legislative session.

“She’ll speak about the importance of delegates and how they appointed her,” said Keri Jones, Equality Utah’s Manager of Programs and Administration.

As in 2006 long-time progressive political advocate Jan Lovett will conduct the training. In past years, Lovett’s training has focused on such things as how to actively campaign for a delegate spot at a party’s precinct caucus and how a delegate may vote to change his or her party’s state constitution, bylaws and platforms.

The training session will also feature a panel discussion presented by active and former delegates about their experiences in office.

The last workshop, held in March of 2006, proved to be one of Equality Utah’s most popular events, drawing over 100 to a single training session at the University of Utah where Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff served as guest speaker.

As part of his opening remarks Shurtleff told the crowd that while Utah politics often run counter to the interest and needs of gay and lesbian citizens, the only way to change this is to change the people in office.

“Unfortunately in this state, the decision who will be a representative is made by a tiny minority of people, often with extreme views,” said Shurtleff, a Republican and a vocal opponent of a 2004 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Utah. “We should be studying the tactics of the Eagle Forum. Their voice, which is radical, is powerful. So legislators see it and think that’s their constituents.”

“In the Republican party, if you get over 60% of the delegates to vote for you, you are the nominee. That’s the system and you need to understand it.”

The workshop is free and open to the public. However, interested parties are encouraged RSVP to ensure that there are enough materials for all participants. To RSVP contact Keri Jones at [email protected]

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