by Troy Williams
This op-ed originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune on Oct 12, 2008.
If the polls are accurate, West Jordan residents are likely to re-elect Sen. Chris Buttars to the state Legislature. As a gay citizen of Utah, I certainly hope so. The simple truth is that every minority group needs a cranky xenophobe on the Hill – and Buttars knows how to get the job done.
Without Buttars and the Utah Legislature, Amendment 3 would not exist. And though the constitutional amendment easily passed, the “No on 3″ campaign forever transformed local politics.
In a very short time, Equality Utah became an influential presence on Capitol Hill. Today, Utah candidates eagerly court the gay vote. The state now has three openly gay representatives in our Legislature.
Our summer Pride celebration grows by the thousands every year. Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population has never been better-organized, funded and effectively trained in political action. Thank you, Sen. Buttars.
Kevin Jennings, the executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network recently spoke in Salt Lake City. Jennings recalled how Gayle Ruzicka came swooping down from her aerie to stop East High School from forming a gay/straight student club.
Her squawks drew the attention of the nation. Consequently, calls and donations from around the country came pouring into GLSEN. As a result, there are now more than 4,200 GSA clubs in American high schools. Including Provo.
Thank you, Gayle.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is now aggressively campaigning in California to deny gays and lesbians the freedom to marry. It is investing to ensure that only patriarchal families have legal recognition.
Because of the church’s efforts, thousands of activists are pouring millions of dollars into the cause of gay equality. Regardless of the outcome of Proposition 8, a tremendous political infrastructure is being built. Thank you, President Monson.
America has been fractured into a tiresome “us vs. them” culture war. The right wing has employed divisive tactics to ensure their exclusionary rights. Historically, their agenda has always been to perpetuate the supposed rank and privilege of man over woman, white over black, rich over poor and straight over gay.
But America can be better. We progressives believe in universal liberty. We want to extend the promises of this nation to all citizens. Every American, gay and straight alike, has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Today, we are inspired by the abolitionists who opposed slavery. We honor the suffragettes who fought for a woman’s right to vote. We are fired up by the passion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And we remember that they, too, faced fierce opposition.
American history is full of people like Buttars and organizations like the Eagle Forum and the LDS Church. There will always be those who aggressively work to marginalize minority populations. We need them. And strangely, they also need us.
We queers provide them with an outraged sense of moral superiority. We are the sinful “other” that allows them to maintain a self-image of their own righteousness. And it all works fine, until the day they realize that the “other” they’ve ostracized is their very own flesh and blood.
Buttars and the LDS Church will continue their efforts to strip us of dignity and basic freedoms.
Go for it.
We are Utah’s gay children and we are here to claim our birthright as American citizens. We will no longer be shamed and we will no longer be silent. We are politically organized and we are going to continue to work for the freedom and emancipation of all people. We have found our voice.
And we have you to thank.
So please, West Jordan, re-elect Chris Buttars.