Dozens of people, RSVPs in hand, were turned away at the doors of the Sutherland Institute’s “State of the Union II” event at Thanksgiving Point. The Sutherland Institute is an ultra-conservative “think tank” that was vocal during the fight for Utah’s Amendment 3 — the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — was put to the voters.
“We felt a sense of relief and gratitude for those who stood strong in defense of marriage in California. That relief has been short-lived with the announcement of what Utah “gay rights” advocates are now calling the “Common Ground Initiative” – a package of six policies designed, ultimately, to redefine marriage in our state,” a statement on the group’s site announcing the event said. “Utahns are now the target of a clever marketing campaign that is presented as a non-threatening effort to find ‘common ground.’ Like our friends and families in California, it’s now our turn to Stand Up to Protect Marriage here in Utah.”
“We invite responsible citizens to join with Sutherland Institute on Thursday evening, February 5, 2009, for State of the Union II: The Challenge to Family and Freedom,” the statement continued.
Apparently “responsible citizens” did not mean gay and lesbian people, their allies, or the editor of this newspaper.
Michael Aaron was turned away at the door, but not before noticing three pages of names under a heading of “NO,” including the names of the entire staff of QSaltLake, Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center and other activists.
A well-choreographed plan was in place to quietly and swiftly pull aside those not welcome at the event, with six security guards at the doors of Thanksgiing Point’s Show Barn.
Several activists were allowed in and their stories of what went on inside will follow.