The New Face of Gay Rights In America

By [email protected]

LGBT Resource Center200 S Central Campus Dr. #317Salt Lake City, UT 84101(801) 587-7973

Contact: Creig Nielson Development Intern LGBT Resource Center (801) 587-7973 [email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOctober 27, 2003

With the recent talk of Fred Phelps planning to erect a monument in Casper Wyoming stating: “Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, at Age21.” It sickens me to think that our society still has not been able to rise above these social intolerances. Being from Wyoming, I’m very concerned about this monument of hate being erected in a state that boasts the slogan “hate is not a Wyoming value.” IF society really and truly is moving onwards and upwards towards being more accepting of people’s differences, why are there still groups out there such as the KKK, and Rev. Phelps’s Kansas Congregation, that continue to persecute minority groups?

Granted huge strides have been taken in leveling the playing field so that all, races, orientations, genders, and so forth have equal opportunity to the unalienable rights granted to us by the constitution.

For instance, steps are being taken in our own state to break down barriers and provide equal opportunity for all. Most recently the University of Utah introduced the Spouse Card, allowing husbands, wives, and partners equal access to services provided to Matriculated Students, Faculty and Staff, at discounted rates. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center on the U’s campus has also been able to expand its resources and double its staff due to the need to accommodate for new programming.

There are however certain issues remaining to be addressed. Take for example the non-discrimination policies throughout the state. At the University level there are only a handful of institutions that contain the phrase “Sexual Orientation” in their non-discrimination clause. Action needs to be taken and a statewide policy needs to be implemented. Scholarship funds need to be established for LGBT individuals and their allies, encouraging youth seeking change to earn a degree to support their ideas of change and tolerance. Hate crime legislation needs to be passed at the state and national level including bias incidents as well as hate crimes in the wording of the legislation. These are not specifically LGBT related issues that I address. These are issues that face the global community, and action needs to be taken now. The “New Face of Gay Power” as Time Magazine calls it is not just the LGBT community, but that allies and partners that seek the same goals.###