Press Releases

Utah GOP Gubernatorial Candidates All Come Out in Support of LGBTQ Equality

May 22, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City -- On Thursday, May 21, the LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality Utah hosted The Equality Forum featuring all four Republican gubernatorial candidates. The Equality Forum was a first for Utah, and a first for red states across the country.

“​Four years ago we would never have seen a moment when all Republican candidates vying to be Governor would join a forum hosted by Equality Utah​,” stated Executive Director Troy Williams, who hosted the event. “Today, all four Republican gubernatorial candidates expressed love and friendship to LGBTQ Utahns and made a commitment that our voices will continue to be at the table.”

Former Utah governor and U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman was unequivocal in his support:

“An overriding philosophy for me, as a human being and as an elected official, has always been ‘equality under the law.’ So as a Republican that’s what I’ve always thought Abraham Lincoln stood for: equality under the law, not for some, but for all.”

Current Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox, also shared his support, specifically reaching out to transgender Utahns: “I have had the opportunity to meet with members of our transgender community many times . . . They are an important part of our state, and they deserve to be at the table.”

Former Speaker of the Utah House of Representatives Greg Hughes joined his Republican rivals in expressing support for LGBTQ Utahns. When asked how he would address the struggles of LGBTQ youth, he said, “​ I’d tell them what I tell my friends who are gay: You are my friend, that is the bottom line. Our relationships and how we hold our relationships are most important.”

Former Republican Party Chair Thomas Wright declared, “I am an ally” to LGBTQ Utahns. He went on to discuss the work he’s done to move the state’s Republican party forward on LGBTQ issues.

All four candidates have helped move the state forward on LGBTQ issues. In 2009, then Governor Jon Huntsman challenged party orthodoxy to advocate for antidiscrimination protections. As Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox has long championed suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth and helped the state ban conversion therapy. As Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes helped pass Utah’s landmark LGBTQ employment and housing nondiscrimination law. As Republican Party Chair, Thomas Wright challenged the party to include and involve LGBTQ Utahns.

Over the past five years, Utah has made remarkable strides toward equality. In 2015 Utah passed a law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment and housing. In 2017, Utah repealed an anti-LGBTQ curriculum law that prohibited discusson of homosexuality in public schools. In 2019, the state passed an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law. Earlier this year, Utah became the 19th state in the nation to protect minors from conversion therapy.

The event was simulcast on Facebook Live, and is now available to view on ​Equality Utah’s YouTube​ channel.

The Forum will continue next week with Democratic nominee, Chris Peterson.

About Equality Utah

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Equality Utah Hosts First Utah GOP Governor’s Equality Forum

May 20, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City -- On Thursday, May 21, Equality Utah will host a forum featuring the four Republican gubernatorial candidates. The Equality Forum is a first for Utah, and a first for red states across the country. The simulcast of the Equality Forum will occur on Equality Utah’s social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube at 7pm.

“Utah continues to be a beacon to conservative states on LGBTQ public policy. Year after year, we’ve proven that people with different ideological views can come together and discover common ground” stated Executive Director Troy Williams. “Utahns may not agree on every policy issue, but we always engage with each other to find positive solutions to complex issues.”

All candidates have helped move the state forward on LGBTQ issues. Long before marriage equality was a possibility, Governor Jon Huntsman challenged party orthodoxy to advocate for civil unions and antidiscrimination protections. As Lt. Governor, Spencer Cox has long championed suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. As Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes helped pass Utah’s landmark LGBTQ nondiscrimination law in 2015.  As Republican Party Chair, Thomas Wright challenged the party to include and involve LGBTQ Utahns.

Over the past five years, Utah has made remarkable strides toward equality. In 2015 Utah passed a law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment and housing. In 2017, Utah repealed an anti-LGBTQ curriculum law that prohibited discusson of homosexuality in public schools. In 2019, the state passed an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law. Earlier this year, Utah became the 19th state in the nation to protect minors from conversion therapy.

About Equality Utah

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Local Organizations Rally for Equal Rights Amendment at the Capitol - Monday 01/27/20 Press Conference and Legislative Action

January 24, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Utah ERA Coalition Media Contact:
Kelly Whited Jones

Fair Utah Media Contact:
Amy Rich
amy@fairutah.org

Salt Lake City -- January 24, 2020: Four decades since it was first introduced in the Utah Legislature, Representative Karen Kwan will reintroduce the Equal Rights Amendment during the upcoming 2020 legislative session that begins on Monday morning.

The ERA was first ratified by the US Senate and sent out for state’s approval in 1972. Despite years of political efforts by Utah women, the state remains one of only 12 states yet to ratify the ERA. But this year is different. This year more than 30 bi-partisan coalition partners including, Women’s State Legislative Council, League of Women Voters, National Association of Women Business Owners, Equality Utah, American Association of University Women, Women Lawyers of Utah, YWCA and many more, are working together under the umbrella of the Utah ERA Coalition.

Their efforts are gaining ground, as a 2020 Utah Policy Poll reports broad support for ratification in Utah is building. 71% of Utahns support the effort, and perhaps even more poignantly, 66% of active LDS members want to see it ratified this year. “Hearts and minds are changing as they realize what this amendment is really about, and what it will mean for the women they love,” says Kelly Whited Jones, a member of the Coalition executive committee. “It’s a fight we’ve been part of for decades, says Teri Jewell, Coalition member of AAUW. “Women are not constitutionally protected and we won’t be until this historic amendment is passed.”

Utah is often seen as one of the worst states in the nation for women, consistently ranked 47 and lower by national metrics, but ratification can send a strong message to the contrary. Kwan says the amendment can serve as a shining example to the nation of respect. “Utah has a unique history of being a national leader in women's equal political rights, but we have recently fallen outside the national conversation,” says Rep. Karen Kwan (D-District 34), the bill’s sponsor. “I want our young men and women to know our history and inform the national narrative about how much Utah values women. Ratifying the ERA now will be Utah’s grand gesture of love and respect for our families and our neighbors.”

HJR 007 is a next step bill modeled after last year’s Reaffirm Respect for Utah Women Resolution HJR 021 that passed both the house and the senate unanmously. By signing the resolution, every Utah representative and senator recommitted to value Utah women and affirm the State’s commitment to elevate the status of women. Now it’s time to take that next step. Utah’s ratification will bolster active efforts in Virginia, Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, Ohio, and elsewhere, and provide cushion states in the legal battles ahead. “The fight for full equality under the law is not over after Virginia’s ratification” says Amy Rich of Fair Utah and Utah ERA Coalition Chair, “Utah can still be the state to make history. #38 would be great, but #39 will be just fine.

Christian Numes, a community organizer and current Vice President of the National Organization of Women (NOW), is a featured speaker at Monday's event. She is chair of NOW's Racial Justice Task Force and has spoken at events such as the March for Black Women in 2018. Numes has over 20 years of experience advocating for children's and women's issues.

The Utah ERA Coalition and Representative Kwan will host a rally and press conference on Monday, January 27th , 12:00pm-1:00pm MST on the Utah State Capitol front steps, to discuss HJR 007 as it moves forward through the house.

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Conversion Therapy Ban in Utah Now in Effect

January 21, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City, UT – On Wednesday, January 22, Utah will become the 19th state in the nation to protect minors from the practice of so-called “Conversion Therapy.”  The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and Governor Gary Herbert have adopted rules to effectively regulate this dangerous practice. Equality Utah, the Utah Psychological Association, Rep. Craig Hall and conversion therapy survivors will gather at the Capitol’s Copper Room at 9am on Wednesday morning to celebrate the adoption of this new rule.

Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH stated: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exasurbates depression, anxiety and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”

University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky, who worked on drafting the approved language, stated: “Although Utah is a predominately conservative state, protecting children from conversion therapy is not a partisan project.  It’s about preventing youth suicide—a goal that is widely shared by progressives and conservatives. Utah adopted this measure to prevent children from dying by suicide.”

Rep. Craig Hall, the original sponsor of HB 399, said: “I am thrilled by the adoption of the Administrative Rule which ends conversion therapy once and for all in this State. Thanks to everyone who helped develop language that both prohibits conversion therapy and also protects the legitimate interests of healthcare professionals, patients and families. This measure will truly save lives.”

The Williams Institute from UCLA Law estimates that 680,000 Americans have experienced conversion therapy—350,000 as minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52%) and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide (63%). A new study from JAMA Psychiatry on transgender clients in conversion therapy experience “severe psychological distress” and “increased odds of lifetime suicide attempts”.

About Equality Utah

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Equality Utah Responds to Fairness for All Act

December 6, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

(Salt Lake City, UT) - This morning, Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah, released the following statement regarding the introduction of the Fairness for All Act:

"Today’s introduction of the Fairness for All Act in the U.S. House of Representatives represents an important milestone. Rep. Stewart and many conservative faith organizations now recognize that LGBTQ Americans must be included in and protected by our nation's civil rights laws.  Although Equality Utah was not involved in drafting the Fairness for All Act, and we have significant concerns about some of the bill’s provisions, we look forward to beginning a dialogue with the bill’s sponsor.”

In 2015, Equality Utah worked in collaboration with the Utah Legislature, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a broad and diverse coalition of community stakeholders to find legislative solutions to Utah's cultural divides, which could be supported by Utahns of all parties and faiths. We hope to see that same model of collaboration develop on the federal level, in which people of faith can work alongside LGBTQ leaders to identify and secure robust legal protections for all Americans.”

About Equality Utah

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Equality Utah Brings Ex-Gay Conversion Advocate McKrae Game to Testify at DOPL

September 25, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City, UT – On Thursday, Sept. 26, the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing will hear public testimony on the harmful practice of conversion therapy. No one understands the harms better than McKrae Game who led the conversion therapy organization Hope for Wholeness in South Carolina for two decades. Game recently came out as a gay man and repudiated his practice.

“During all this time, I never encountered anyone who had reoriented their sexuality” Game stated. “For the overwhelming majority it becomes a game of turning your head, repressing thoughts, denying identity, denying involvement in gay relationships and friendships, and lying to self. Today, I now see that my chronic anxiety over my whole life was from my constant repression of my sexuality. Today my anxiety is gone.”

Troy Wililams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH stated, “Every reputable science based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exasurbates depression, anxiety and suicide ideation. We are grateful that the Board of Psychologists and DOPL are thoughtfully engaging this issue. The end objective we all share is to save lives.”

Matthew Shurka from the national BORN PERFECT campaign will also be joining us. “Leaders have a responsibility to promote the health and well-being of our youth. Being LGBTQ is a natural part of the human condition—not a mental illness or disorder. It is vital that Utah’s medical boards protect youth from the life-threatening practice of conversion therapy and send a clear message that all LGBTQ youth are Born Perfect.”

The public hearing begins at 9am at the Heber Wells Building, 160 E 300 S in the main conference room. We will host a press conference after the hearing immediately after the initial hearing. We expect it sometime around noon.

Other available interviews include Casey Pick from The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ suicide hotline, Taryn Hiatt from The American Foundaiton for Suicide Prevention, Marina Lowe from The ACLU of Utah, Rep. Craig Hall, and several survivors of conversion therapy.

The Williams Institute from UCLA Law estimates that 680,000 Americans have experienced conversion therapy—350,000 as minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52%) and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide (63%). A new study from JAMA Psychiatry on transgender clients in conversion therapy experience “severe psychological distress” and “increased odds of lifetime suicide attempts”.

About Equality Utah                                                                    

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Harvey Milk Mural Dedication on Tuesday, July 2, 10am

July 1, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City -- To cap off PRIDE month and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, local muralist Josh Scheuerman will unveil his new permanent work, honoring Civil and LGBTQ rights leader, Harvey Milk on 265 East 9th South (Harvey Milk Blvd).

Building owner J.R. Holbrook stated, “We feel that there needs to be a special place on Harvey Milk Blvd where locals and tourists can stop by, gather strength, pay their respects and take a photo.”

Artist Scheuerman said, “Art has the power to start a conversation and to share a message with only a visual representation. I have seen murals unite communities and help propel a dialogue about social issues and causes.” He continued, “As an artist I believe I have a powerful role in helping to shape the world I want to live in, which is both brave and kind for future generations.

Equality Utah’s executive director Troy Williams praised the display, “Our intent in renaming 900 South after Harvey was to inspire the rising generation. In a state where suicide is the leading cause of death for young people, this beautiful work of art will send Harvey’s message of hope to LGBTQ youth throughout the city.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony will commence at 10am on Tuesday 2nd of July. A short program with Holbrook, Sheurerman, Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center and the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office will follow.

Harvey Milk was among the first openly gay candidates in the nation to be elected to public office when he won his seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Harvey foresaw his own death when he said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” Harvey was assassinated on November 27th, 1978. He is memorialized on downtown Salt Lake City alongside other civil rights luminaries like Martin Luther King Jr. (600 S.), Rosa Parks (200 E.) and Cesar Chavez (500 S.).

About Equality Utah

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Equality Utah Responds to Efforts to Undermine HB 399 and Allow Conversion Therapy

March 5, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City, UT – On Wednesday, March 6th, at 9am in the Copper Room at the Utah State Capitol, Equality Utah will hold a press event to discuss the Legislature’s efforts to undermine HB 399, “Prohibition of the Practice of Conversion Therapy for Minors”.

“What happened in the Legislature was a travesty,” said executive director, Troy Williams. “We came to the Capitol in good faith to save LGBTQ lives. The Governor and the House Judiciary Committee rejected the leading scientific consensus that conversion therapy is harmful and endangers youth. The Committee’s new substitute bill would have authorized conversion therapy, instead of protecting children from it.”

“This was a life-saving bill,” explained Taryn Hiatt, the area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We know that youth who are subjected to conversion therapy experience higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. We are incredibly disappointed by the unwillingness of lawmakers to address this public health issue in a meaningful way.”

“Conversion therapy is a public health crisis,” said Clifford Rosky, a law professor at the University of Utah and a member of Equality Utah’s Advisory Council.  “It is appalling that the Governor and the Legislature are refusing to protect our children and families. This is not about politics. It’s about saving lives.”

The Williams Institute from UCLA Law estimates that 680,000 Americans have experienced conversion therapy—350,000 as minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52%) and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide (63%).

About Equality Utah        

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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Bill Introduced to Prohibit the Practice of Conversion Therapy on Minors

February 20, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT:

Troy Williams
Executive Director
Equality Utah
troy@equalityutah.org

Salt Lake City, UT– Equality Utah, Rep. Craig Hall and Sen. Dan McCay will introduce “Prohibition of the Practice of Conversion Therapy Upon Minors,” on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 12:00 PM in the Hall of Governors at the Utah State Capitol.  Conversion therapy is the practice of attempting to change or “fix” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  Conversion therapy has been associated with high risks of depression and suicide among minors, and it has been disavowed by all of the nation’s major medical and mental health organizations.  Although the practice has been banned in 15 other states, it remains legal in Utah, where suicide is already the leading cause of death among youth.

“For decades, LGBTQ Utahns have been subjected to the harmful and fraudulent efforts of conversion therapy, and it’s sadly still happening,” said Executive Director Troy Williams. “We still meet young people who are being told they can change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and the impacts are devastating. We are grateful to Rep. Hall and Sen. McCay for sponsoring this bill to protect our youth.”

Sponsor Craig Hall said, “I’m proud to sponsor legislation that protects children from the harmful and discredited practice of so-called conversion therapy. This legislation establishes regulatory standards and will have a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ youth.”

Nathan Dalley, a 19-year-old survivor of conversion therapy from Lehi, Utah, described his ordeal: “In therapy I was told that I could overcome my same-sex attraction if I became more muscular and played sports with other boys. However, after a while I started to loathe myself.” He continued, “I became more depressed, and I experienced suicidal ideation stronger than I ever had before. The therapy that was supposed to be making me better was making me feel worse.”

“This is a life-saving bill,” explained Taryn Hiatt, the area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We know that youth who are subjected to conversion therapy experience higher rates of depression and suicide attempts. We are eager to work with Equality Utah and state leaders to pass this legislation.”

“This bill is a huge step forward for LGBTQ children and families,” said Clifford Rosky, a law professor at the University of Utah and a member of Equality Utah’s Advisory Council.  “Conversion therapy harms children and tears families apart. It’s time for Utah to join other states by protecting children from this dangerous practice.”

The Williams Institute from UCLA Law estimates that 680,000 Americans have experienced conversion therapy—350,000 as minors. A 2018 study by Dr. Caitlin Ryan found that minors subjected to conversion therapy were two times more likely to experience depression (52%) and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide (63%).

About Equality Utah                                                                      

Formed in 2001, Equality Utah is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy group in the state. Its mission is to secure equal rights and protections for LGBTQ Utahns and their families, and its vision is of a fair and just Utah. For more information, please visit equalityutah.org.

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