Mayor: gays are welcome |

Mayor: gays are welcome

Mayor Dana Williams acknowledges he is "certainly concerned" with the prospects of a boycott of Utah by gays and their allies, saying Park City could suffer even though the city had little to do with the gay-marriage ballot measure in California.

Park City has a tradition of acceptance of gays, he says, but the city could be swept up in a movement by gays against Utah based on Proposition 8. Williams says gays are welcome in Park City.

California voters passed the ballot measure on Election Day, and the gay-rights supporters claim The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used its influence to help pass Proposition 8. The opponents of the ballot measure quickly mobilized against Utah.

The chatter about a boycott of Utah, which has fomented on the Internet since the Election Day, comes as people in Park City are already worried that the stumbling economy could dash the usually lucrative ski season. The number of gays who visit Park City and the amount of money they spend locally is difficult to determine.

The mayor says he is unsure what the effects would be in Park City if a boycott takes hold. He says it would be difficult to determine whether a boycott or the economy is responsible if Park City’s ski season is down.

"It’s too bad that we could potentially take the brunt of an issue we didn’t participate in," Williams says, adding he is worried about the effects on the ski season and the Sundance Film Festival.

There has been little public talk about Proposition 8 in the Park City area, and there have not been demonstrations locally like there have been in Salt Lake City and elsewhere. The recent Salt Lake City demonstration did not appear to draw significant numbers of Parkites.

But there are people on the Internet who are mentioning Park City, being a Utah destination, as a potential boycott target, including during Sundance in January. The film festival attracts large crowds of people from California, and there typically is a significant gay presence in Park City during Sundance.

Sundance is usually a key money-making period for the lodging industry, restaurants, nightclubs and other businesses that cater to visitors. Park City is packed during the festival, with the crowds heading to screenings, partying and gawking at celebrities. Demonstrations are common during the festival, with anti-war marches having been held and animal-rights groups often seen promoting their cause.

A festival official recently told The Park Record Sundance has received phone calls and emails from people wanting the festival to abandon the Holiday Village screening rooms. The people tie Cinemark Theaters to the ballot measure. Sundance plans to continue showing films at Holiday Village.

The Mormon influence in Park City through the city’s history has been limited compared to the role the church has played in other Utah communities. Silver miners founded Park City instead of Mormon pioneers, and the city in its early days attracted an international population to work in the silver mines. The city in recent decades has drawn large numbers of people moving from California, New York and elsewhere in the country.

"Park City has a very long track record of welcoming the world. That has never been based on race, creed, color or sexual preference," Williams says.

Meanwhile, Ken Woolstenhulme, the chairman of the Summit County Commission, says it is unclear what effect a boycott might have. He says people planning to boycott are mistaken.

"I don’t understand what they hope to gain by it," Woolstenhulme says. "I don’t think it’s going to change anybody’s mind."

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