Emboldened, gays plan job action, vigil | ParkRecord.com

Emboldened, gays plan job action, vigil

Emboldened by the nationwide movement for gay rights, Park City gays plan three events this month to show solidarity with the opponents of Proposition 8, the California ballot measure against gay marriage.

They include a Dec. 10 job action and a Dec. 20 candlelight vigil. The job action, known as Day Without a Gay, and the candlelight vigil are part of a national effort. A food drive, meanwhile, is scheduled through Dec. 20.

The upcoming events provide more indications that gays and their supporters will be active in Park City as the dispute in California unfolds. There has been widespread talk of a boycott of the Sundance Film Festival based on the role members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played in the passage of Proposition 8.

"Our intention is to help people understand that we lack many civil rights other people enjoy and others take for granted," said Mark Worthen, a gay who lives in Park Meadows and is an organizer of the job action and the candlelight vigil.

He said gays in Utah do not enjoy employment and housing rights that are afforded others. Voters in Utah previously passed a ballot measure restricting marriage to between a man and a woman.

Worthen is urging people to miss work if they are able to on Dec. 10, a Wednesday, and not spend money that day. Instead, he wants them to "call in gay" and then perform service work.

He does not want the job action to hurt the businesses. Worthen said gays are an important part of the economy, though. He said students should not skip school on Dec. 10 as part of the event.

The Day Without a Gay plans resemble those of previous demonstrations for rights for Mexican immigrants. Worthen said it is difficult to predict the success locally of the Day Without a Gay.

"We contribute to the economy in a big way. The idea is not to spend any money that day," he said.

The candlelight vigil planned Dec. 20, a Saturday, is scheduled at 5 p.m. Worthen had not secured a location by the beginning of the week. He said he hopes to stage the vigil on Main Street.

Park City typically is bustling with holiday vacationers by Dec. 20, and Main Street draws large crowds during the holidays. Main Street is a preferred location for demonstrations or vigils, with animal rights activists staging an event after Thanksgiving.

Worthen said some of the people will wear T-shirts emblazoned with the words "second-class citizens" on them. He said he is unsure how many people will participate. Main Street demonstrations normally do not draw crowds of more than a few dozen.

"The idea is simply to be present," Worthen said, hoping gays and heterosexuals attend.

Worthen, who was trained as a psychologist, is an Internet marketing consultant. He has lived in Park City for nine months. His grandfather was a Park City silver miner in the 1930s, he said.

The job action and the candlelight vigil would be the first public events of their kind in Park City since Proposition 8 passed. Others have been held in Salt Lake City, with attendance by people from Park City appearing to be sporadic.

It is unclear if the movement for gay rights will take root in Park City. The city has long been seen as one of the most notable left-leaning enclaves in Utah, and many Parkites consider themselves as gay rights sympathizers. There have not been widespread public discussions locally about Proposition 8, however.

"A lot of people have ideas or beliefs about gay people that are the result of stereotypes," Worthen said.

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