The Human Rights Campaign kicked off Friday its 17-city national bus tour, in Salt Lake City, that focuses on education and awareness for queer rights. The tour, which is being dubbed, ‘On the Road to Equality,’ focuses on areas around the country where queer citizens do not have as many protections and rights, such as protection against bias in housing and the workplace.
The nation, and the state of Utah, are on the cusp and tipping point of actualizing equal rights for queer community members, HRC President Joe Solmonese said at the press conference and ribbon-cutting at the Utah Pride Center.
“We find ourselves at almost a tipping point in the fight for LGBT equality in this country. Hearts and minds are changing everyday,” Solmonese said. “We are winning this fight everyday in every way.”
The HRC events throughout the weekend included a fundraising club night at Club Sound headlined by Broadway star Gavin Creel and several group discussions revolving around faith and family. The kickoff was also attended by Salt Lake County and City Mayors Peter Corroon and Ralph Becker, and philanthropist Bruce Bastian.
“We’re not asking the government to give out special rights, just equal rights,” Corroon said.
The tour comes on the heels of a recently released poll by the HRC that indicates an overwhelming majority – 77 percent of Utahns support non-discrimination laws protecting against bias in the workplace and in housing. The same poll also indicated that a surprising 66 percent of Utahns said they would support relationship recognition rights for gay couples such as civil unions. However, each attempt to pass a statewide ordinance is killed and has never reached a full vote in the Utah Legislature.
“Oftentimes you see that the public is ahead of the politicians,” Corroon said. “We want to make sure that everybody has the ability to work and live and enjoy this great community that we call Salt Lake.”
The bus is designed to tell people’s stories and help change lives all across the nation, regardless of faith or creed, and it is significant that it is starting in Utah, Bastian said.
“It’s not true that gay and god don’t mix,” Bastian said.
For a complete schedule of events, go to HRC.org.