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Second Town Hall Meeting Held

The All in One Initiative, founded by Jacob Whipple, held its second Town Hall Meeting April 22 in the Salt Lake County Council Chambers, drawing about 60 participants — mostly leaders of organizations.

Whipple opened the meeting and explained some of what the Initiative has done since the last Town Hall Meeting and explained why his focus has veered away from activities around the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their involvement in the passage of California’s Proposition 8.

“Some people have asked me why I haven’t been more focused on the Mormon Church,” he said to the crowd. “My fight is not against the Mormon Church. My fight is with the Utah voter and trying to get laws passed.”

“We can get more and more people on our side and if anything comes to a vote again we can get more people on our side,” Whipple explained.

Marina Gomberg of the Utah Pride Center announced a new project of the Center — Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders, more easily referred to as SAGE.

“Now we can serve people from cradle to grave,” Gomberg said.

Gomberg also announced that this year’s Queer Prom, held April 18, was the most successful yet with 650 youth attending.

The Center will also host a two-day summit for people of color in the GLBT movement. “Our hope is to bridge gaps and create relationships that will hopefully help create change in our community,” Gomberg said.

Todd Hess of the Utah steering committee of the Human Rights Campaign told attendees that members flew to Washington, D.C. and met with legislative aids to Rep. Jim Matheson, who said that he was committed to the gay and lesbian community and that he would sign on as a sponsor to the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, as well as new versions of the Equal Nondiscrimination Act and a tax remedy bill that would benefit gay couples.

Hess said that progress is being made in Washington, D.C.

“We’re excited at that progress,” he said. “HRC is excited about the momentum being shown in congress through a fair-minded White House, a fair minded Congress.”

He stressed the importance of the Hate Crimes bill.

“If we fall short with the hate crimes bill we will fall on any other legislation we’re trying to get passed,” he explained.

Russ Gorringe of the Utah Pride Interfaith Coalition said that the group held an interfaith service in the capitol during the legislative session.

He also noted that leaders of several churches have written letters in support of Equality Utah’s Common Ground and that several churches have approached them about signing on for next year.

Lastly, Gorringe announced that the Utah Pride Interfaith Service will  take place Saturday, June 6 at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church.

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Richard Lestico announced a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender health fair and invited interested groups to participate at no cost, but for an $11 fee to cover a table and chair rental.

The Institute recently conducted a survey where they found an inordinate amount or wealthy white participants in their programs, but little diversity.

“We’re trying to change that,” Lestico said. “We are open to everyone. There is no discrimination. We are trying to support LGBT people, but also organizations.”

He also noted that no person would be denied cancer care at the Institute (the fourth largest cancer center in the world) because of lack of insurance.

The health fair will take place May 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in their outer plaza.

Parent and Friends of Gays and Lesbians Utah president Kathy Godwin announced that they will be joining with their Southern Utah counterpart for a “peaceful presence” at a rally protesting LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson’s keynote speech at Southern  Utah University’s graduation ceremonies on May 2.

She invited attendees to  their monthly meetings, held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Utah Pride Center. Sh can be reached at [email protected]

Queer Color — People of Color Network representative Andre Molette addressed the audience about continuing issues that racial minorities in the community still feel alienated about.

“We met in the summer months with [Equality Utah Field Coordinator] Lauren [Littlefield] on breaking down the Common Ground Initiative. I do not understand the Common Ground Initiative. We want to talk about the Common Ground Initiative.

He also announced a Cinco de Mayo event at the Utah Pride Center on May 5 and Asian Pacific Islander Month at the Salt Lake City Film Center.

He welcomed people to attend their weekly meetings, held Thursdays at the Utah Pride Center from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. He can be reached at [email protected]

ACLU Utah Development Director Anna Brower invited people to their Bill of Rights Celebration featuring Rachel Maddow, openly-lesbian host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. The event will be held May 16 and tickets are $100 ($250 VIP) through acluutah.org. The theme of the event is “An American We Can be Proud Of.”

Bonnie Owens of TransAction Utah announced that the transgender group will host its first “gender playground” at the Utah Pride Festival. They are also putting together a Transgender Community Quilt and are soliciting self portraits and photographs.

The group is planning a Transgender March during the 2010 Utah Pride Festival.

On May 15, the group will host a fundraising event at Sugar House Park from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

“We’ll have karaoke where you pay to sing and pay to stop people from singing,” Owens explained.

Will Carlson, Equality Utah’s manager of public policy, noted that the only Republican to vote for a Common Ground Initiative bill was Rep. Brent Wallace of Ogden, who voted for the Fair Workplace bill.

“Statewide polling shows that 83 percent of Utahns deserve some protections,” Carlson said. “Utahns are in a place where our state legislature is not.”

He encouraged attendees to “empower” Utah voters to speak up to their legislators.

He announced that the group would be walking districts, holding phone banks, placing lawn signs beginning at Utah Pride.

“We are taking a campaign approach for CGI 2010,” he explained.

Eric Ethington of Pride in Your Community told the group of their monthly community service projects, including their recent trip to his childhood neighborhood.

“I came out 15 times that day,” he quipped.

The group also volunteered at the LDS Welfare Cannery on April 18. They will be joining in the protest against Monson at Southern Utah University.

“We will be setting up in a parking lot in the area with hose, buckets, squeegees, etc, dressed fabulously and offering a massive free car wash,” he announced.

The meeting ran past its allotted time as Utah Log Cabin Republicans president Mel Nimer got to the podium. Some comments he made concerning the failures of the Common Ground Initiative drew the ire of Carlson and others in attendance.

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