About a dozen state lawmakers representing both political parties met Wednesday night with countless members of the LGBTQ community to hear their about their struggles. The meeting comes after a decision by House and Senate leadership to ignore statewide anti-discrimination legislation filed this session.
New mother and school teacher Candice Green-Berrett joined her wife Megan and six-month-old daughter Quinn to highlight the joys of her recent marriage.
“Being gay, I feared that I would never have a family and that I would never get to be a mother,” Green Berrett says. “My wife is a teacher too. We saved money for a very long time to be able to have our daughter. She is both of ours.”
But with the joy, Green-Berrett says comes a tinge of sorrow.
“I was evicted once in college because I was gay,” Green-Berrett says. “I could handle it. I’m tough. But I have a daughter now and a family and I can’t imagine putting them through that.”
Justin Utley grew up in West Valley City. After spending much of his life as a closeted gay man, he endured years of conversion therapy, was forced to miss his partner’s funeral and soon after says he lost his job when his employer became aware of his sexuality. Utley says he strongly considered suicide.
“I could not escape the fact that no matter where I lived or where I worked, my orientation would be under constant scrutiny socially, professionally and legally and there was nothing I could do about it,” Utley says.
Several lawmakers wiped tears from their faces as the stories poured in.
House Majority Leader Brad Dee didn’t address the anti-discrimination bill or marriage equality directly in his response.
“I appreciate who you are and declare my love for you tonight and all that you stand for and all that you are and some of your concerns,” Dee says. “And I just want to express my great appreciation for your being here tonight and helping me understand better.”
In addition to state lawmakers, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and State Auditor John Dougall were present at the meeting.