Utah Democratic candidates sound off on gay rights, other issues

Six Democratic candidates, including three openly gay, for Utah Senate District 2 voiced similar concerns to Republican approaches to governing the state. The candidates are in a Democratic runoff to replace outgoing Sen. Ben McAdams, who was elected to be Salt Lake County mayor.

The election will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, with approximately 150 Democratic delegates. The gay candidates on the ballot are Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, former Rep. Brian Doughty and former Equality Utah staffer Will Carlson. The other candidates are outgoing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson and Robert Comstock.

When asked about nondiscrimination, adoption and marriage equality, nearly all the candidates voiced support for full equality. Corroon, however, did not talk about marriage equality, choosing instead to talk about his support for nondiscrimination ordinances and laying a groundwork for equality. In previous debates and press conferences Corroon has said he does not support gay marriage. However, in a phone interview, Corroon said he would be proud to sponsor a statewide nondiscrimination bill.

“I would be so happy to be involved in that movement. We were the first county to pass the protections, as well as extend domestic partnership benefits,” Corroon said.

Carlson pointed out that each of the candidates has worked very hard for queer rights. He also said he would not support civil unions and anything less than full marriage equality is unacceptable.

“(A civil union) says you want your marriage recognized, but not quite as nice as the straights get,” Carlson said.

The candidates found much to agree upon and all opposed a Republican plan to raise food tax. They also opposed Republican message bills about federal lands and supported a woman’s right to choose.

Dabakis, Carlson and Comstock said they would hold the Republicans accountable for their decisions and would stand up for Utahns and the Democratic Party.

“Compromise is something you do when you have a seat at the table,” Carlson said. “Unfortunately, Democrats have been on the table for far too long.”

Dabakis said he would visit each county in the state and “educate” about Republican policies. He even went as far as to refer to himself as a “barking dog.”

Doughty, on the other hand, touted his experience working with Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Should no candidate receive at least 60 percent of the vote in the first round, the two candidates with the most votes will face a runoff.

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