I am speaking out today and lending my support to the All Families Coalition, first, as a mother and, second, as a candidate for Mayor of Salt Lake City.
I met my son Archie when he was two days old. He was so beautiful. My heart felt a love it had never experienced before. For over a decade I had tried to become a parent through every option available to me. My son was born in 2009, a time when openly gay people had to carefully navigate the system to adopt successfully. My sexual orientation was well known and made adopting a child in Utah a scary proposition. I was afraid someone in the state’s adoption system may try to interfere. After I brought Archie home, we rarely left the house during the required six month waiting period before his adoption could be finalized. I didn’t want people to see me with him in public until the adoption was final. Those months were some of the most rewarding, frightening, and stressful of my life. That same fear creeps in even today as I tell you this story.
Since then we have made a lot of progress toward equality and in our fight against discrimination for the LGBT community but that battle isn’t over. Salt Lake City is a wonderful place to live but we do not all share equally in the rights, benefits, and opportunities of citizenship here.
When organizations like the World Congress of Families, that have a reputation for anti-gay rhetoric and who are classified as hate organizations by the Southern Poverty Law Center, propose to gather in Utah we need a leader who is not afraid to engage, ask questions, and stand up for equality.
I have met with the leaders of the 9th Annual World Congress of Families and their sponsor the Sutherland Institute and I asked tough questions about their message and their agenda. I’ve been told this gathering will not include a message of hate against families that deviate from the mother-father-child model. I have faith the people I met with will hold true to their word. I believe that if we can approach one another with respect and courtesy then even though we may have opposing opinions we can find common ground, we can get along, and we can find mutually beneficial solutions.
One of my strengths is working with people from all sides and building consensus. When I served in the Utah legislature for 13 years I worked with people from both political parties to achieve real progress on economic development and civil rights. I not only worked well with people I disagreed with but made some genuine friends along the way.
However, if the message of the 9th Annual World Congress of Families veers towards fear-mongering and anti-gay hatred I will be the first to speak out in opposition to the conference. No anti-gay message about families like mine can be ignored, as we could end up being a target of violence that so often follows statements of rage and ignorance about LGBT people.
Utah is a place where we have found a path forward for the LGBT community and people of religious faiths, I am a member of both of those groups. I know it is possible to protect LGBT people without infringing on religious liberties. I’m standing up today as a mom and I pray we can engage respectfully when the World Congress of Families comes to Utah in October. But I want the people of Salt Lake City and the people of the world who travel to Salt Lake to know: it is love that makes a family and ALL FAMILIES ARE WELCOME HERE.