Today, marriage supporters from across the state of Utah came together at the Salt Lake County Building – the building where hundreds of same-sex couples tied the knot on December 20, 2013 – to launch Utah Unites for Marriage, a robust campaign to move marriage forward and make the case that the state is ready for the freedom to marry.The public education campaign, launched by a broad coalition of local and national partners, supporters from across the state, and a trio of prominent Utahns, aims to broaden the conversation about marriage for same-sex couples across the state, showcase the diversity of Utahns who support the freedom to marry, and send the message that now is the time to allow everyone in the Beehive State to marry the person they love.
Utah Unites For Marriage was founded in the wake of the state’s announcement that it would appeal the marriage victory in Kitchen v. Herbert, a federal court decision that led to nearly 1,300 same-sex weddings in just over two weeks — legal unions that are now in limbo. Oral arguments will be heard in Kitchen v. Herbert at the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on April 10.
The Utah Unites for Marriage Coalition
- Three prominent Utahns are co-chairs for the campaign: former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah Brett Tolman; Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker; and long-time TV anchor and communications professional Terry Wood. Meet the Co-Chairs of Utah Unites for Marriage.
- Coalition partners include: the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry (FTM), ACLU of Utah, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Meet the Coalition Partners.
- Same-sex couples who are building their lives together and raising families are at the heart of this debate - but until Utah overturns the state’s harmful marriage ban, these couples are denied the critical protections and respect only marriage can provide. Meet Utah Families.
- From all across the state, Utahns are standing up in support of the freedom to marry. From family members to friends to people of faith, a growing number of Utahns know that it’s time for marriage. We spoke with some of them and shared their story of why marriage matters. Meet Utahns for Freedom.
The Campaign Launch
At the county building today in Salt Lake County, March 18, we kicked off Utah Unites for Marriage! Here’s what happened:
Former U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman, a Republican and strong supporter of the freedom to marry, kicked off the press conference. “I support the freedom to marry for Utahns like my sister because all Utahns deserve equal protection under the law,” he said. “Marriage is more than just a contract. It’s about love, commitment, and devotion. Just as it is for me and my wife.”
Emmy-winning journalist with 40 years in the industry Terry Wood followed: “All Americans are created equal. No one should ever have to be discriminated against. There are no second class citizens.”
Terry spoke specifically about being a part of his son’s wedding, who tied the knot in California five years ago. “I cried tears of joy during my son’s wedding,” he explained. “And I want all Utah parents to be able to experience the same joy and fulfillment.”
Next up were Michelle and Kathy, a loving same-sex couple raising children in Utah. “We need marriage equality for so many reasons, but the most urgent is that our children deserve the same rights as all families,” Michelle said. “There is no harm that comes to a child when all loving couples in Utah can enjoy the freedom to marry.”
Next, Derek Kitchen and his fiancé Moudi Sbeity spoke out. They are the lead plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, the case that brought the freedom to marry to Utah and the case that faces appeal next month.
“We own a home together,” the couple said. “We run a local business together. We even adopted a dog together. We long to build a future as husbands. But in Utah, we are treated as legal strangers. It’s time that Utah unites and brings marriage to all families.”
Finally, Pastor Curtis Price closed the press conference, speaking out about the power of faith and the importance of freedom. He said, “As a faith leader, I cannot sit back while any of my fellow Utahns are denied recognition of their unions under the law. I call on all faith leaders in Utah to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” Read more of Pastor Curtis’ story HERE.
Together, we can move marriage forward in Utah. The most important way that you can contribute right now is by getting connected with Utah Unites for Marriage. Here’s how:
- Sign the Pledge: Momentum to win marriage is at an all-time high, but we need your help to show it.
- Grow the Campaign on Facebook: Become a fan and share awesome content about why marriage matters in Utah.
- Follow Us on Twitter: Stay up-to-date with by-the-minute updates!