Gay Democrat Wins Utah Party Chair, Courts Mormons
Jim Dabakis became the first openly gay man to win the Utah Democratic Party's chairmanship this weekend. And now that he's won, Dabakis vows to keep strengthening frayed ties between his party and the Mormon Church.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Dabakis previously worked with the church to build support for Salt Lake City's 2009 anti-discrimination ordinance and more recently held a private meeting with about 30 powerful Mormon locals to bridge political divides.
“We [Democrats] call ourselves the big-tent party, that everyone is welcome,” Dabakis told the Tribune. “But in the past, it has seemed that everyone is welcome in our big tent except Mormons." He also says that Mormons and Democrats are more in line than people believe:
...Dabakis is optimistic that the Democratic Party has a message that can resonate with the LDS faithful. “On 90 percent of the issues, we’re on common ground, he said, adding that sometimes Democrats inadvertently sent messages that were antithetical to Mormon sensibilities.”
Howell cited a recent BYU/University of Pennsylvania study that showed red-state Utahns and blue-state New Yorkers shared the same views on social issues 77 percent of the time and on economic issues 69 percent of the time.
Dabakis has also been coordinating with State Senator Scott Howell, a Mormon Democrat who says he was "appalled at how the right wing has hijacked my faith in this state." Hopefully he and Dabakis can start steering the church at large, so invested in passing California's Proposition 8, toward to light of LGBT rights.