Thursday, November 04, 2004

An Open Letter for Utah Democrats

My Fellow Democrats,

Well, here we are, another election over. Many of you, like myself, are swarming with concern, awash in our disappointment, both locally and nationally. So many issues were at stake in this election, livelihoods and beliefs, families and fairness, and it's hard to believe that in one night, our dreams lay at our feet, seemingly crushed by the "Republican Machine."

A friend at work had two of her daughters vote for the first time yesterday. Both of them researched the issues, made their choices and voted confidently. Both of their spirits were crushed by the results. "How," she asked me today, "How do I get my girls to understand how important it is to stay involved? I don't want them to be disappointed in the whole process, but they are taking it so hard."

I will tell you exactly what I told them, what I told my partner, what I told my friends and colleagues at work, anyone who asked me, a lifelong Democrat, about the results.

There will be times of great change in our nation. There is an ebb and flow to politics and the White House. There is a time for everything, or so it seems. Right now, it is the Republican's time. It is time, as a group, for Democrats to regroup and reflect on the vast power we now have, in the younger generation, to affect change.

I am looking at the Gay Marriage Amendments in 11 states, all of them saying "NO! We don't want gay marriage!" Instead, what I see is an opportunity for change - for opening a dialog between us. Here in Utah, almost 300,000 people voted against Amendment 3. I want you all to think about that for a minute. 830,000 people voted on that Amendment, and statistically only 83,000 of them where gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans gendered. That means, my fellow liberals, that we touched 217,000 heterosexual people. We talked to 217,000 people about our lives, our families, our feelings. We came out in newspapers, at work, in our neighborhoods, in our grocery stores... and this - all of this - is a huge step to awareness, understanding and compromise. I see Civil Unions, Equal Benefits, Domestic Partner Registries. I see it and it is coming...

On a personal note, this election forced me to decide what was most important in my life. I made a decision that my partner, my daughter and the commitment I made to both of them was much more important than anything I could ever do in my life. Our story needed to be told. And tell it I did, to anyone who would listen, including the Salt Lake Tribune, much to the chagrin to my extended family. My personal triumph was witnessing the hearts and minds of my coworkers and acquaintances opening, and then accepting, my happy, loving and normal family for just what it is, and then supporting us in defending it. The single happiest moment I experienced was the phone call I received from my mother Tuesday evening, saying, "I wanted you to know... I voted No."

Change is happening, albeit underground and slowly. It must begin in small ways, and it must continue with us. It will continue with our hands in the Food Bank and the Shelters, in the Parks and Rec and the Boys and Girls Clubs, at the AIDS Foundation and the Christmas Box House. Change happens with the hands right in front of you. Get involved. Don't forget this election or lament it. USE IT to fortify you for the next election, so we, as a party, can be stronger and wiser and united in our efforts to help all Utahns realize a better future. Be PROUD to be a Democrat.

When you are tired and depressed, think of Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of the many women who fought for the right to vote. Think of the Berlin Wall. Change can occur overnight - it just occurs over many, many nights. But it cannot occur without you.

I am looking ahead - 10 years ahead - 15 years ahead, when a now young man named Obama from Illinois might be primed for the Presidency, and we can look forward to an African American Democrat to put our support behind. What a wonderful day that would be! I can see the Democrat's time coming around, and it's coming soon...

I want to challenge each Utah Democrat to look at the elections in their Districts. Did you know that 12 Republicans ran for the House Unopposed? 12! That is shameful. I have met so many intelligent leaders-in-the-making over the last few months. STAND UP! Get ready! Your time is coming. Let's not have one single Republican run unopposed in any District Election ever again!

I also want to remind all of you of some of the positive things that came out of this campaign.

We put up a great candidate for Governor in Scott Matheson, Jr. He ran a smooth, well oiled and, above all, integrity-filled campaign. There is no disappointment from this Democrat as to who she voted for. We have yet to see the last of this fine gentleman. I think his father would be very proud.

We have Jim Matheson Re-elected, and while somewhat moderate for some of our tastes, he still firmly planted a lot of balls in our courts. Don't count him out just yet.

Lest we forget our wonderful Peter Corroon who stood his ground, despite all the controversy and won the Salt Lake County Mayoral Seat. I can't wait to see this man get to work on our county.

Representatives: Jackie Biskupski (our first openly Lesbian member of the House), Neil A. Hansen, LaWanna "Lou" Shurtliff, James R. (Jim) Gowans, Carl Duckworth, Duane Bourdeaux, Ralph Becker, David Litvack, Roz McGee, Brent H. Goodfellow, Ty McCartney, Neal B. Hendrickson, Mark Wheatley, Carol Spackman Moss, Patricia W. Jones, Tim Cosgrove, Karen W. Morgan, and Brad King.

Senators: Fred J. Fife and Mike Dmitrich

They will all represent us well.

Now is the time to ask - what will YOU do? Volunteer for the Homeless Shelters and the Heart Association, for Equality Utah and the GLCCU, for your fellow Utahn, for the Democratic Party. There is still much more work to be done and, with your energy and focus, it will be accomplished.

Keep The Faith,



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