Last night was Equality Utah's Allies Dinner. It's a dinner to recognize those in Utah who have made a positive difference for LGBT individuals, info here.
We've only been going for about 6 year, but one of the more amazing things about the dinner is how it has grown even in that time. It's about doubled from the 800 people attending three years ago. It's moved from a ballroom in the Marriott to the large conference hall in the Salt Palace. It was an event at which few politician would want to be seen, and now the halls are packed with campaign signs and political glad-handing. In short, we've come a long ways, and a lot of credit should be given to Equality Utah. As some of the speakers mentioned, I guess ironically some of that credit goes to Senator Buttars and Gayle Ruzicka, who woke up a great number of people, gay and straight, to see why we need to stand up and be counted for what's right, yours truly included.
I asked for it and I hope it comes about, but I wish the video of the speakers was on the internet. Kevin Jennings, Executive Director of the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the creator of the first GSA, gave an amazing, uplifting, and emotional speech. The award recipients were great speakers and example as well:
--Mayor Becker, his work gave us the mutual commitment registry in Salt Lake City to help in hospital visitation and such. We'd be nowhere without straight allies and politicians such as the good mayor.
--Laura Milliken Gray. She has been an ardent advocate for many years and the lawyer for most of the gay families in Utah, attempting to shore up our rights and the rights of our children all the while the Legislature has been hacking them down. Ironically, she has to move out of the country because her wife couldn't get the citizenship a married couple would have, but Laura can get it in her wife's country. Sad and infuriating; such a strong voice and wonderful person will be sorely missed in Utah's gay community.
--Boyer & Pat Jarvis. What to say about them? These straight allies, in their senior years, were very touching speakers as well. It's not every day where you see a great-grandfather and his wife admonish straight people from not "comming out" as being friendly to their gay friends, brothers and sisters.
Anyway, it was a wonderful and motivating evening, and I'm refreshed for the elections. Bring it on, Gayle.