Park City could be first in Utah to formally endorse marriage equality |

Park City could be first in Utah to formally endorse marriage equality

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD
Equality flags flew along Main Street during part of the Sundance Film Festival in January. Park City leaders next week are scheduled to consider a formal resolution in support of marriage equality. It would be the first such resolution by a local government in Utah. File photo by Nan Chalat-Noaker/Park Record

Park City officials next week are scheduled to consider what would be the first formal resolution by a local government in Utah in support of marriage equality.

The resolution will be presented to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on March 27, according to a list of issues the elected officials are expected to address in coming weeks published by City Hall. The resolution has not been widely publicized.

The text of the resolution had not been finalized by early in the week. Phyllis Robinson, the public affairs manager at City Hall, will write the text. It is likely the resolution will be made public early next week in anticipation of the March 27 meeting. The elected officials will almost certainly accept public input prior to a vote.

"It’s adding our voice and support," Robinson said on Tuesday, adding, "We’re making a public statement of support for same-sex marriage, basically."

Robinson said the text of the resolution will reflect City Hall’s prohibitions of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in housing and employment.

City Hall consulted Equality Utah, a Salt Lake City-based organization, as the resolution was crafted. Robinson said the organization provided a list of important points about marriage equality. She said the resolution will "reflect the spirit" of the Equality Utah points.

Brandie Balken, the executive director of Equality Utah, said on Tuesday talks started with City Hall in January or February. Balken said City Hall inquired about a model from another community as the text of the Park City resolution was under consideration. Balken said she found several to provide to Park City.

Balken said it is likely she will attend the upcoming meeting to testify in support of a resolution. She said no local government in Utah has adopted a similar resolution.

A City Hall resolution like the one that will be presented to the elected officials is, essentially, a statement of support for an issue, an ideal or a person. They typically do not address polarizing subjects like marriage equality. The City Council at the same meeting could be asked to pass a resolution honoring the 2014 Winter Olympic athletes with ties to Park City, as an example.

The meeting next week will come three months after the retiring three-term mayor of Park City, Dana Williams, urged City Hall to consider enacting a law legalizing same-sex marriage. His comments, unexpected, were made days before his early January retirement. They were also made shortly before a federal judge ruled that Utah’s voter-approved prohibition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The ruling allowed same-sex couples to marry. The marriages were halted as the state challenges the ruling, however.

It seems Park City will draw statewide attention next week if the resolution is put on the City Council agenda. The passage of a resolution by a government body could embolden both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.

In a Tuesday interview, Williams said he is "certainly thrilled" a resolution is under consideration at City Hall. He said the resolution could, perhaps, include a statement that Park City is concerned that the state is fighting for a prohibition of same-sex marriage that will ultimately be overturned.

"It is important in terms of making a statement even though it has no legal bearing," Williams said about a resolution.

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