Common Ground Rally Scheduled for Capitol

On Jan. 24 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Utahns and their straight allies are invited to gather on Capitol Hill in support of six bills aimed at securing more rights for gay and transgender Utahns and to call on President-elect Barack Obama to repeal a number of anti-gay measures.

Organizer and gay-rights activist Jacob Whipple said that participants will meet on the West Lawn of the City County Building (451 S State St) and marching up State Street to the Capitol’s South Lawn. Once there, they will call on legislators to pass bills aimed at securing equal workplace protections for gay and transgender Utahns, rights for same-sex partners to sue in the cases of wrongful death and a repeal of a 2000 law forbidding gay couples from adopting children, among other things. They will also ask Obama for his support in passing a federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act and in repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the U.S. government from recognizing gay marriage and allows states the option of not recognizing gay marriages performed in other states.

Whipple said that many locals have expressed excitement about the rally.

“All the people that recognize me from the news or even friends are always asking me when the next event will be,” he said. “So I gather that in our community and [among] those who support us, they are excited for this to continue on. They want [these issues] to remain in the news and to be an important issue and topic on the state and federal level.”

Although Whipple’s activism, like that of many gay and transgender people across the country, was touched off by the passage of California’s Proposition 8, Whipple stressed that this rally, unlike others held in Utah last November, would not be about the controversial measure which re-banned gay marriage in the Bay State.

“It’s not just about venting our feelings anymore,” he said. “This is about actually speaking to our representatives and legislators and telling them we need them to make these changes.”

For more information visit allforoneinitiative.org.

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