Senate candidate Chris Stout is strong ally for queer community

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A Democrat in Utah who openly supports gay marriage and Obama’s health care plan, and considers the current status quo for liberals in Utah unacceptable, might be a long shot for a statewide position, but don’t tell that to Chris Stout.

In a second bid for a Senate position, Stout is going to do things a little differently this time than in his 2010 race where he lost to his party challenger Sam Granato – despite rumors that Rep. Jim Matheson might make a bid for the same seat.  Matheson has declined to comment on whether he will be running for his current Congressional seat, a Senate position or even the governorship.

“The longer Jim waits to make up his mind the more people will get behind me. There will be a convention fight, I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Stout said. “His recent voting record shows he’s trying to appeal to the conservatives.”

Matheson was one of five Democrats who voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance Bill sponsored by Jason Chaffetz, who is rumored to be running for the same seat on the Republican ticket. The bill was called irresponsible and dangerous by the Obama administration and was seen largely as a gesture vote appealing to the far right of the Republican Party.

“Matheson is actually the reason I became involved in politics,” Stout said. “When I saw his vote against the health care bill, which was far from perfect, but a step in the right direction, I couldn’t understand how he could vote against it.”

Along with supporting health care reform, Stout, who is a sales tax accountant, said he supports a responsible government with real-world solutions to cutting the budget. Stout said he would support cutting down some defense spending and redundant programs, and increasing revenue through land sales and other management solutions.

Stout, a Gulf War veteran, said he backs a reasonable approach to defense spending measures.

“I’m an army veteran, but my accountant side says you can’t be in perpetual war,” Stout said. “When killing people to get to some undefined goal is what you base your national defense on, it’s no longer national defense.”

However, the cuts wouldn’t equal a weak military and funding can be made through a reasonable tax policy that isn’t bias toward companies that carry jobs overseas and out of the country, he said.

Supporting small businesses through tax structure and credit lines is the only way to really increase the amount of jobs in the country, Stout said.

“Small business has interest in the U.S., Utah and Salt Lake City. Those businesses are going to motivate and innovate through the coming economy. Corporations aren’t necessarily bad, but when all they’re concerned about is the bottom line, that often translates to carrying jobs overseas for cheaper labor,” Stout said.

A small-business owner himself, Stout has experience in money management and describes himself, not as fiscally conservative, but as “fiscally responsible.”

Not all of Stout’s platforms include a decrease in spending – investing in a functional and effective educational system is also essential to providing the resources small businesses need to succeed, he said.

“I support a very progressive platform,” Stout said. “I know that most would say it’s a long shot. But Utah is, and always has been, my home. And I refuse to believe that it is as red of a state as others would have me believe.”

While Stout is straight, he is an ally to the queer community and said he supports the repeal of the anti-gay law, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the passage of a bill that would protect against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing.

“I even support gay marriage. I just think it’s a civil matter,” Stout said. “While not all rights are enumerated exactly in the Bill of Rights, marriage should be made available to gay couples.”

“Why do we have to look at sexual orientation, gender identity and race so closely? I look at it as a broad brush and look at people in general. And I’ll work until everybody has the same opportunity.”

In order to succeed in his bid for Senate, he will need donations of time and money. To get involved, go to ChristopherStout.org.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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