SALT LAKE CITY Among the floats, community groups and drag queens, a dozen officeholders and candidates took part in Salt Lake City’s annual Pride Day parade and festival last weekend.
State Sen. Scott McCoy, a Democrat and one of two openly gay members of the Legislature, said it shows the growing clout of Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“Candidates realize the LGBT community is politically active and politically engaged,” McCoy said. “We represent a good chunk of votes.”
Several candidates, all Democrats except for a handful of third-party office-seekers, sought voter support from the estimated 15,000 people enjoying food and music on Library Square and Washington Square after the parade on June 4.
“It’s about getting out into the community,” said Sim Gill, Democratic candidate for Salt Lake County district attorney. “It’s a good way to interact, and get the message out and be a part of a community celebration.”
Jim Winder, a Democrat running for Salt Lake County sheriff, said, “Every community in Salt Lake deserves representation, and most importantly they deserve public safety.”
Christine Johnson, a real estate agent running in this month’s Democratic primary for the District 25 House seat, said she’s out to show voters that the gay community’s issues are also their issues.
“I can be gay, but my constituents care about the fact that I’m for everything that we’re all for, because there are certain things that are gender non-specific, like health care and clean air and quality education,” said Johnson, whose primary opponent, Josh Ewing, also was campaigning that day.
Jane Marquardt, board chairwoman for the political advocacy group Equality Utah, said the politicians’ turnout “shows me that people are listening” to the GLBT community.
“As political leaders meet articulate citizens who want to talk about various issues, who also say, “‘and I’m gay’ that will start to change opinions,” she said.
Much of that focus at the parade and festival was on President George W. Bush’s drive, including a White House event Monday, to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Patrick Guerriero, national president of the Log Cabin Republicans, urged festival attendees to call the White House and their senators to tell them to “stop wasting time in Washington, and messing with my family and my constitution.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 09, 2006.