Utah Democratic Chairman Jim Dabak is said that, when he co-founded Unity Utah (later, Equality Utah) in 2001, “[t]here was no real political force in the LGBT community. We wanted an organization that could get involved in politics and be an organized voice in helping people get elected, not just throw around money” [QSaltLake, “Equality Utah celebrates 10 years,” Aug. 18].
Dabakis failed to consider his party’s Utah Stonewall Democrats caucus which, in 1999, was already celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its founding as Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats. The caucus will soon enjoy its 23rd year. Lasting almost a quarter-century seems to be its own headline.
After GLUD members first attended the Salt Lake County Democratic Convention in 1990, KUTV Television news anchors called the combined caucus, fund-raiser and lobby “a new political powerhouse.”
Armed with the description, GLUD members: 1) replaced conservative Democratic state Reps. Ted D. Lewis and Ronald J. Greensides with gay friends Pete Suazo and Loretta Baca, 2) wrote and lobbied successfully for two Salt Lake County ordinances which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, 3) elected an openly gay delegate to the Democratic National Convention, 4) helped write and lobbied successfully for two hate-crime bills which require the collection and publication of crimes based on sexual orientation, and 5) helped write and lobbied successfully for a viatical-settlement bill which allows terminally ill Utahns to sell their life-insurance policies to improve their lives.
There were more than 100 other such “firsts” that GLUD members accomplished in the group’s first few years. Clearly, Dabakis had been unaware or unimpressed by the group and its accomplishments. Equality co-founder Doug Wortham at least noted that “other previous volunteer organizations” paved the way for the group.
Having known Dabakis for more than 32 years, I am not surprised that he can’t remember GLUD or its work. He attended its caucuses or social events seldomly. For any state-party chairman, absences during such historic events – let alone not knowing about them – should be humiliating.
Salt Lake City