At this year’s Utah Pride Festival, the Utah Pride Center is proud to announce two recipients for the Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service Award: Fran Pruyn and Mark Lawrence. Originated in 1987, this award was initially given to Dr. Kristen Ries for her work during the AIDS crisis. Due to her amazing efforts, it was named in her honor. This award acknowledges exceptional service to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community in Utah. It is given to those who are committed to providing needed services for our growing and vibrant community.
Since the early 1990s, Fran has given much of her time to what is now known as the Utah Pride Center. She’s served as a member of the board, president of the board and a Steering Committee member for the Utah Pride Festival. Fran currently works at Cooper, Roberts, Simonson Architects, a Salt Lake City firm, as their marketing director. She is also the director of Pygmalion Productions theatre company, where she works to give women a voice. She’s been involved with KRCL for 10 years, while serving as the board president of the organization for five years.
Although Fran has been very successful when it comes to business, her real passion is the theatre: “It’s thrilling, and sometimes educational, and sometimes changes people’s minds, and sometimes it is the strongest thing you can do to make a point,” Fran said.
From her varying leadership roles and community service, Fran has discovered that her strongest quality is seeing the talent in other people. “It’s recognizing others’ strengths and then putting them in a role where they can utilize them,” she said.
Mark, along with a small group of colleagues, is responsible for the founding of the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization known as Restore Our Humanity. Due to their work, marriage equality became a temporary reality in the state of Utah. Mark continues to do his part to establish equality for all Utah citizens: “We could never have imagined that it would go as far as it has,” he said. In 2012, a small group of devoted people — Mark included — began discussing what steps needed to be taken in order to attain marriage equality under the law.
With the help of Restore Our Humanity, attorneys Peggy Thomsic and Jim Magelby, along with the six Utah plaintiffs (this year’s Utah Pride Grand Marshals), filed Kitchen v. Gary Herbert. This lawsuit struck down Amendment 3, making it legal for same-sex couples to marry across the state of Utah. Over 1,300 couples were issued marriage licenses in 17 days; a motion to stay was then imposed by the courts to put a stop to it. That stay, as well as the constitutionality of Amendment 3, are the current topic of litigation in Denver’s 10th Circuit Court.
Before the creation of Restore Our Humanity, Mark’s civic activism started in 2004, when Amendment 3 was on the ballot. Inspired by other local activists, he began to see what it took to lead a charge against injustice: unshakeable leadership and the courage to put yourself in the public eye. Mark saw what happened in California’s Prop 8 case and noticed the similarities between that case and Utah’s Amendment 3.
“Proposition 8 was no different than Amendment 3. So why isn’t somebody doing that here? There wasn’t anybody else to do it so I thought, ‘Maybe it’s my time to do something,’” Mark said.