Pride 2011

Utah Pride Center honors Mayor Becker

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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is no stranger to Utah’s queer community. He’s been a visible ally since he was inaugurated in 2008. Shortly after taking office, he created the state’s first domestic-partnership registry and he ushered in the most progressive anti-discrimination laws Utah has ever seen. Since Salt Lake City passed the laws, nearly a dozen other Utah municipalities followed suit. His impact extends well beyond the city boundaries. The Utah Pride Center recognized his influence when he, along with the rest of the city council, was asked to serve as grand marshals in the Utah Pride Parade in 2008, even before he secured many of the protections he helped champion. And this year he is honored with the Pete Suazo Award, which is given annually to an elected Utah official who demonstrates a commitment to equal rights.

In 2008, when he was selected as one of the grand marshals, he told QSaltLake readers that he was proud to take part in the festival and that he was excited to continue working with the queer community.

“While we have a long way to go before we achieve full equality, I for one will be celebrating all that we have accomplished in the past year to ensure equal rights, fairness and dignity for residents of Salt Lake City,” he said.

Since he led the parade in 2008 to his reception of the Pete Suazo Award this year, Becker has been a constant supporter and ally of the queer community. One of his key roles was helping lead the city in passing two ordinances that protect against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and in housing.

“Many were doubtful and skeptical of these endeavors and their implementation, but I am happy to report the skeptics were wrong,” Becker said in a letter to QSaltLake readers.

When Becker took office, one of his first accomplishments was to create the Mutual Commitment Registry, which is a chance for couples to register with the city. Basic co-dependency requirements must be shown and the city will maintain the record of the relationship. And despite objections and challenges from the Utah Legislature, Becker and his city council stood strong in support of equal rights.

Becker’s impact has reached through and beyond Salt Lake City. He is not just an avid support of queer rights, but also human rights in general. Watch for him on his bike as he rides to work. He truly is an ally of minorities and the planet.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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