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Sam Granato: Dignity for All

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This year’s race for Utah’s open Senate seat has been one of the most unusual in the state’s history. In May, incumbent Bob Bennett was ousted at the State Republican Convention by contenders Jim Bridgewater and Mike Lee, the latter of who ultimately secured the Republican nomination.

Lee’s challenger is Frank Granato Importing Co. owner and Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control chairperson Sam Granato, who is well known in Salt Lake City not only for importing Italian food, but for helping to abolish Utah’s private club law last year, a law which nearly all club and bar owners found restrictive. And even though Granato’s Democratic bid is considered a long shot (Utah has not elected a Democratic Senator since 1959), his prominent place in Utah’s community has helped garner him a number of endorsements from State Legislators, mayors, county commissioners and citizens on both sides of the aisle. And many of those endorsements have come from members of Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, including statewide gay and transgender rights group Equality Utah and Scott McCoy, the only openly gay Utahn to ever serve as a state senator.

“I think they [the community] have responded very warmly and openly, if you will, and many members of the community have been my life-long friends,” said Granato. “I’ve always had members of the community as my associates, my customers, and they trust me. The community has been very supportive of the campaign and I’m grateful for all their support. They understand what I understand: Utah can’t afford to send another extremist to the Senate,” he added, referring to Mike Lee, whose campaign he compared to “shouting.”

If voters send him to the Senate, Granato said he will champion the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans on its floor.

“If I’m elected to the Senate, which I plan to be, I will stand up for equality and basic human dignity for all Americans. That starts with repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act,” he said. “We must allow all willing individuals to serve in the nation’s military and we need to make sure all humans, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, can live their life with dignity and without discrimination.”

While Granato said he could understand that repealing DADT could create some administrative concerns that may take time to address, he said that Congress had “no excuse” for delaying the policy’s repeal.

“They’re playing political games and looking to the next elections,” he said. “We don’t need that and I won’t do that, especially on this issue.”

Granato’s plan to help queer Americans live with dignity also includes repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Clinton-era law that allows states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“I believe marriage is a state issue and the federal government has no place in making that decision. It’s absolutely unconstitutional,” he said. “If a gay or lesbian couple in Iowa marry and move to Montana, then Montana needs to recognize that union, according to the Constitution. DOMA doesn’t recognize that and for that reason it should be appealed.”

Along with supporting equal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, Granato said he also favors reforming public education by repealing No Child Left Behind, simplifying the immigration process and reforming both Social Security and the U.S. health care system, which he says will help reign in deficit spending. Rather than eliminating all federal funding for health care, Granato favors Bennett’s Healthy Americans Act, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected will save the country nearly $1.5 trillion in the next decade.

Granato also said that he opposes what he called Lee’s interest in abolishing Social Security, calling his opponent’s stance “ridiculous” and his opinions on Social Security and a number of other federal programs “too extreme.”

“We don’t tell hard-working, blue-collar individuals that they’re going to have to work until they’re 75 or that they’ll pay into [Social Security] and get nothing back. We reform it and fix it,” he said, noting that another proposal by Bennett could fix the ballooning costs of Social Security without raising taxes.

“We need to look at those ideas, come together, reform it, index it to inflation and solve the problem once and for all,” he said. “I’m not a career politician, I’m a businessman. I want to go with the proper business skills and the gut feeling of being in the trenches for what needs to be done.”

At press time, Mike Lee had not returned answers to e-mailed questions about his campaign.

Overall, Granato said that he hopes to see Utah helping to fix the problems facing the country today.

“If I’m elected, when I’m elected, my first job will be to go to Washington and tell them Utah has arrived,” he said. “I will fight for our state and my first priority will be doing what is best for Utah. We deserve to be heard and I’ll make sure that we are, and that includes everyone.”

To learn more about Sam Granato visit voteforgranato.com.

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