ST. GEORGE – While he may be retiring from the state Senate, Sen. Steve Urquhart’s public support for equality for the state’s LGBT community will carry on as one of the newest board members of Equality Utah. Along with two other individuals, the Republican lawmaker was named as a member of the LGBT advocacy group’s board of directors Monday.
“I’m excited,” Urquhart said. “It’s a great opportunity to work with Equality Utah, work on LGBT issue.”
Urquhart, who announced he wouldn’t seek re-election earlier this year, sponsored 2015’s nondiscrimination bill protecting LGBT individuals in housing and employment. The bill finally passed after being stalled in previous legislative sessions.
“I feel I was just getting my feet wet,” Urquhart said of his work on LGBT rights while in the Legislature. “There’s a lot left to do and I’m excited to be on the board of a worthy cause.”
People have asked the senator where his push for LGBT rights in Utah will end since he was finally able to get the nondiscrimination bill passed, he said. Urquhart’s answer has continuously been: “It ends with full equality.”
LGBT individuals still do not have the full protection of the law, Urquhart said, and that needs to change.
While Urquhart has been a prominent ally of Utah’s LGBT community, it hasn’t always been that way.
“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it wasn’t long ago when I othered LGBT individuals,” he said. “When I knew someone was gay, that’s all I saw.”
It didn’t matter if that person were a doctor, a lawyer or an athlete, he only saw them for a singular aspect of their being, Urquhart said.
That changed as Urquhart’s daughter made friends in the LGBT community and became an ally, the senator said. Eventually his daughter and her friends helped change his mind, he said.
“Now I’m happy to say I have improved my perspective,” Urquhart said.
Also appointed to Equality Utah’s board of directors is James Huntsman, son of philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. He is a co-founder and partner at Blue Fox Entertainment. a global film sales company. Prior to starting Blue Fox, he worked with the Huntsman Groups for over 20 years.
“I’m thrilled to be involved with an organization who represents the marginalized in our society,” Huntsman said in a statement. “We all must work together to bring equal rights and treatment to our entire diverse community.”
Michelle Turpin, a tax attorney and Equality Utah co-founder who also played a part in founding the Utah Pride Center, was also named as a new board member.
“We are eager to put these three to work to advance the work and mission of Equality Utah,” said Troy Williams, Equality Utah’s executive director. “Their experience and expertise will be invaluable in creating a state that provides opportunity and protections for all Utahns.”
Utah still has a ways to go in regard to LGBT rights, Urquhart said, but it is making progress.
“We’re going to get there and I hope to be part of that pathway,” Urquhart said.
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