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Openly gay Republican lands spot in Utah presidential primary

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This June, presidential candidate Mitt Romney may be the presumed winner in Utah, but there are other candidates on the ballot for Republican voters to consider. Openly gay GOP candidate Fred Karger is one of five candidates for conservative Utahns to push for during the June 26 primary.

Karger has kept up his campaign in the Republican Party while advocating for marriage equality and pro-choice stances. And while never landing a spot in a major Republican debate, he did defeat Texas Rep. Ron Paul in the Puerto Rican primary. Karger has been a longtime member of the Republican Party and has served as aide and adviser to Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“People need a more reasonable, moderate option than Romney and that’s why I am staying in the race, to give them that chance,” Karger said. “I am one of three major contenders left in the race and we’re going to stick it out.”

Securing a spot on the ballot was simple compared to other states –  an OK from the state’s Republican Party chairman Thomas Wright and the entrance fee. After Log Cabin Republican and Salt Lake County Council candidate Melvin Nimer spoke with Wright, it was automatically given the go ahead, Nimer said.

“I just spoke with him and he immediately agreed to it,” Nimer said. “I think that’s a good example of how far we have come as a caucus in the party. Ten years ago that would have been unheard of.”

Karger’s platform extends beyond sexuality and queer rights. He said he is pro-choice, a supporter of immigration reform and supports full marriage equality, which even President Barack Obama does not support, Karger pointed out. Karger is also an advocate of immediately ending the war in Afghanistan.

“From the establishment all around I’ve received a lukewarm response to my candidacy,” Karger said. “But the everyday people have responded so well. Really, it’s been an incredible response.”

Karger has also pushed for the Mormon Church to avoid involvement in politics. After California’s Proposition 8 was approved by voters, Karger used his organization, Californians Against Hate, to investigate the Mormon Church’s and the National Organization for Marriage’s campaigns to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law. The Mormon Church was found guilty of 13 counts of late reporting and was fined $5,539.

For more information about his campaign, go to fredkarger.com.

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