Gays: pride, not Prop 8 |

Gays: pride, not Prop 8

John Poole five years ago moved to Utah from Laguna Beach, Calif., enjoying Park City’s lifestyle and what he sees as the city’s welcoming attitude toward gays.

Poole, who is gay and lives on a part-time basis in Old Town, realizes Parkites had little influence on California voters who passed Proposition 8 on Election Day, a polarizing ballot measure that takes away the right of gays to marry in California. Poole on Saturday, though, joined a demonstration in Salt Lake City against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a nationwide target of gay and lesbian activists and their supporters for the Mormon role in the passage of Proposition 8.

Carrying a pink-colored ‘Speak Up for Equality’ sign, Poole marched through downtown Salt Lake City with demonstrators holding signs and chanting slogans. Police officers monitored them along the route. Poole mentioned the Mormon Church while he talked about the ballot measure’s passage.

"I think we should have equal rights and equal protections under the law," he said. "I think it’s wrong for someone to be singled out."

There did not appear to be large numbers of people from Park City or surrounding Summit County at the march, but the dispute about Proposition 8 seems to have generated widespread interest in Park City.

Many Parkites have roots in California, and Park City has long been seen as one of the few places in Utah that is friendly to gays. Voters in Summit County in 2004 rejected an amendment to the Utah Constitution defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, one of only two counties to reject the successful ballot measure.

Meanwhile, there is talk about gay people boycotting the Sundance Film Festival in January in retaliation for the Mormon Church’s role in Proposition 8. There is normally a substantial gay presence in Park City during Sundance, with there being enough gays visiting during the festival to support the popular Queer Lounge, a gay-friendly networking and party hotspot.

There has not been an organized demonstration in Park City since the Proposition 8 vote. There are typically a series of demonstrations during Sundance, but most are not put together until just before or during the festival. Anti-war protests and animal-rights demonstrators have been commonplace during Sundance in recent years.

Poole said gays are usually not bothered in Utah, but the Mormon Church in the case of Proposition 8, he said, acted inappropriately. He said the ballot measure sets a "precedence for inequality."

"This action causes us to feel they’re imposing their beliefs on us," said Poole, who is a member of the board of directors of Equality Utah, a gay rights group.

People in the crowd on Saturday held signs reading "Gay for a Day," "No More Mr. Nice Gay," "Denying Marital Rights is Gay" and "I Support the Right to be Fabulous," with the word ‘fabulous’ printed in rainbow colors. They chanted "What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now."

A group of opposing demonstrators held signs in support of traditional marriage, with one of the signs reading "Marriage between Man & Woman." The Proposition 8 supporters chanted slogans like "Respect our democracy, the people voted." The gay-rights marchers overwhelmed the opposing demonstrators.

Poole splits his time between Chambers Avenue and Emigration Canyon and said there is a "strong gay community in Salt Lake City" and in Park City. He said he does not expect the momentum to wane soon.

"I feel like we have a voice and we have a purpose," Poole said.

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