Thursday, February 27, 2014

Singer/songwriter Justin Utley speaks to Utah lawmakers about LGBT discrimination

Award-winning singer/songwriter Justin Utley speaks to legislators and community members
in Salt Lake City regarding LGBT equality.

In late February, Salt Lake City hosted a meeting organized by Utah state senators Steve Urquhart (R) and Jim Dabakis (D), and attended by a group of legislators from both sides of the aisle to begin a dialogue between lawmakers and the LGBT community in search of tolerance, understanding and protected rights.

GOP Sen. Urquhart is the sponsor of SB100, an anti-discrimination bill for the state of Utah which will not be voted on this year due to an uncertain outcome regarding the appeals process currently underway regarding marriage equality.

The state's voter-approved ban on marriage equality was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court judge in December and has since moved on to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But the point of the evening's gathering was not about marriage but understanding LGBT lives on a personal level.

One of those sharing his own journey was openly gay singer/songwriter (and native Utahan) Justin Utley.   Justin spoke to the crowd about experiencing discrimination first hand when he lost his job after an employer found an email he sent about the death of his gay partner. "She (his employer) said that had they known I was gay during the interview process, they would not have hired me."

But Justin's view of the future for his home state remains hopeful. "There is a spoke in the wheel of this state that needs to be fixed. My hope is that together, from this moment on, we can build that bridge of understanding and we can begin to work together to build a state that we can all be proud of."

You can watch Justin's full testimony below:

Looking back on the event, Utley told The Randy Report, "It was incredible to be there and see senators and state lawmakers in Utah's capitol with a heartfelt interest in moving forward with a LGBTQ non-discrimination bill in my home state. It was a huge step forward, and the start of something big. It was an honor to be part of the discussion."

Justin's OutMusic Award-winning song "Stand For Something" was born from his own desire to motivate community action towards securing LGBT equality in America.

Watch KSL TV's report, featuring Justin Utley, below:


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