Utah Democratic Party elects openly gay chair

Jim Dabakis says he’ll try to get members of LDS church to join party

Associated Press

Jim Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Democratic Party has voted overwhelming in favor of electing as its new chairman an art dealer believed to be the first openly gay leader of a political party in the state.

Jim Dabakis, a co-founder of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, was elected Saturday during the party’s state convention in Salt Lake City.

Dabakis said his sexual orientation never came up during the nomination process.

“The whole gay thing just simply did not surface as an issue,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “People are broad-minded in Utah, and they want to know if you can do the job or not.”

Dabakis also said he will go out of his way to make members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feel comfortable in the Democratic Party. He said Democrats believe in the inclusion of all people, even if they have some differing opinions, including Mormons who primarily vote Republican.

“I want to speak directly to the LDS people in our state,” he said. “I want you LDS people to participate in our party. We want your spirit, we want your contributions, and we want to earn your votes. I will do whatever I can as chair to see that our big tent is comfortable to LDS people because it’s the right thing to do.”

Dabakis said many Mormons want a chance to be part of the “normal, moderate, reasonable” Democratic Party in light of splintering in the GOP between the tea party and more moderate Republicans.

“People are looking for real life answers to problems,” said Dabakis, who replaces retiring three-term party chairman Wayne Holland. “I believe to my core Democrats can win in Utah.”

The Utah Republican Party controls both houses of the state Legislature. It also holds all statewide offices and two of the three congressional seats.

Democratic Party delegates noted Dabakis has been a successful businessman and radio talk show host, and has been involved Utah politics for 30 years, the Deseret News reported.

“He will bring energy,” said Tim Chambless, with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. “He’ll bring a greater connection with the business community.”

Convention delegates also elected small-business owner Brian Doughty, who is openly gay, to replace state Rep. Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City. Biskupski resigned after buying a house outside the district.

—  John Wright

Chandler Parsons shirtless!!!

Chandler Parsons

So I’m probably a little biased since I went to the University of Florida, but I’m saying the hottest player in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is Gators senior Chandler Parsons (right), who’ll be taking the court later today against the Mormons of BYU in the Sweet 16. In my mind Parsons is this year’s version of Butler’s Gordon Hayward, in the sense that he’s both good-looking AND a great player. Anyhow, it will be fun to watch Parsons and the Gators take on Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars this evening. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find a shirtless photo of Fredette. In case you missed it, BYU dismissed one of its starting players, Brandon Davies, earlier this year after he admitted to having premarital sex with his girlfriend. Parsons and UF coach Bill Donovan were asked about the controversy during a press conference last night. Watch their response above.

Jimmer Fredette

—  John Wright

Mormons Sued for Proxy Baptism Injury

LAWX390.jpgA Las Vegas man is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for an injury he claims he sustained while performing baptisms for the dead in 2007.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Goal!!!!! Argentina legalizes same-sex marriage

You can finally stay in a country in the New World, get married to your same-sex partner and not learn to ice skate. Yes, Mexico City approved it, but it’s not national law there, just like it’s not here; you had to go to Canada to stay in the West and be legally gay.

Of course, you have to go south of the border. Really far south, too.

Early this morning, the senate in Argentina voted to approved a gay marriage bill which had already passed the lower house. All that’s left is for the president to sign the bill, which seems certain.

Of course, there have been protests, mostly organized by the Catholic Church in Argentina. But see, there’s this thing, called separation of church and state. Maybe the Mormons in the U.S. need to read about it. After all, Argentina is a Catholic nation; so is Spain. And they have same-sex marriage despite protests. It’s called governing. It’s called fairness. It’s what the U.S. is supposed to be about.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry issued this statement:

“Today’s historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality. Argentina’s vote for the freedom to marry marks an important advance for fairness and family values as more couples around the world will now share in marriage, with families helped and no one hurt. Today’s vote adds momentum to the international movement to secure the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples. Key to Argentina’s human rights achievement was strong leadership from legislators and the president. It is time we see more of our own elected officials standing up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law.”

It’s a little late to lead, guys. But if we must follow, let’s hope our politicians don’t follow too far behind.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mormon church supports pro-gay laws. Sorta.

I’ve never been to Salt Lake City, but those I know who have say it’s actually a fairly open-minded town where gay people can feel somewhat comfortable — it’s in the smaller towns and outlying areas that the fundamentalism rears its head. (Can you say “Dallas”?) So it was perhaps not a surprise that the city council of SLC passed two local ordinances banning employers and landlords from discriminating based on an employee or tenant’s sexual orientation. They even passed unanimously.

What is a slightly bigger deal is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints came out in favor of the laws — sorta.

“The church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage,” Michael Otterson, managing director of the church’s public affairs office, said in a prepared statement, according to the Deseret News.

Hardly a ringing endorsement. In fact, to me, it damns with faint praise: “THIS law is OK because it does NOT do violence… but same-sex marriage? Inheritance rights? Adoption? Well, those are NOT OK because they are VIOLENT ATTACKS on marriage” is the message of the church that colonized Utah because they wanted me to marry as many women as they could. So, I’m not sure where they get off as the gatekeepers of sanctified unions. (“Marriage is between a man and a woman… and another woman, and another, and well, ho many ya got?”)

Anyway, it was enough for Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate to endorse as a step in the right direction. Me, I’m still not planning to visit Utah anytime soon.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Religious bigotry is alive and well in Grand Prairie

Barry Cameron

I got an e-mail today from a man who sent me a link to the pastor’s blog on the Web site for Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie. He was appalled at the blog posted Oct. 14 by Pastor Barry Cameron and titled “Change we can’t believe in.”

I, too, found the blog appalling. But not surprising. In fact, the first sentence sound more than a little reminiscent of a certain Oklahoma state legislator (Sally Kern, anyone?). Here’s what Cameron had to say:

“This past Sunday, I shared in my message that the #1 battleground for America is homosexuality. It’s not the war in Afghanistan or the ongoing conflict in Iraq.”

And later, he says: “Hebrews 13:4 says, ‘Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.’ As I shared this past Sunday, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes it clear anyone who, as the habitual, continual pattern of their life, lives in sexual immorality of any kind will not inherit the kingdom of God. In short, the Bible clearly says people who live like that and die like that are not going to Heaven. Instead, they’ve sentenced themselves to an eternity in hell.”

He then went on to note that President Barack Obama had just recently spoken at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington, D.C., and castigated the president for saying that same-sex relationships are just as admirable as opposite-sex relationships, and that he supports equality in all areas for LGBT people.

Cameron was “concerned” because the president said LGBT people shouldn’t face discrimination in employment. The pastor warned, ” God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” and that “the work being done by the HRC and those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, warring against the traditional family and the biblical values that have shaped this nation for some 233 years, is not something God will ever bless.”

—  admin

Mormon slams Prop 8 in church

Thanks to my former colleague Tyler Riggs in Logan, Utah, for passing this along. The video pretty much speaks for itself.

—  John Wright