The military ban on gay soldiers speaking about their sexual orientation is closer to ending. On May 28, the U.S. House approved a defense authorization bill that includes a provision to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, one day after the Senate Armed Forces Committee approved a similar bill. Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson voted in favor of the bill, although the rest of the Utah delegation voted against it. The bill’s passage is not guaranteed this year, but with many top military leaders backing the end to the policy, it seems to be a case of when, not if—despite the unwarranted fears of elected officials who, more often than not, have never worn a military uniform.
On May 25, Linda Butler of Pleasant Grove went to discuss backyard chickens with city officials. According to the Provo Daily Herald, she asked Mayor Bruce Call—who has called chickens a “nuisance”—how to start a petition to permit hens in the city. Call sent her to staff, which sent her to the city council. By the time she talked to council members, she had spent more than three hours chasing her tail. At the end, the council agreed to reconsider the current chicken ban, a victory for the self-described “patient” Butler. Still, the fact that her simple question became a bureaucratic ouroboros suggests that, for Pleasant Grove officials, the real nuisances are their own constituents.
Saving the 4th
The 4th of July fireworks at Sugar House Park will continue, at least for one more year. A fundraising effort led by Salt Lake City resident Scott Workman barely reached the $55,000 in donations needed to pay for the show by the June 1 deadline, although the effort fell $20,000 short of the $75,000 goal to pay for additional entertainment at the park. The fireworks were initially canceled this year after the park’s board—which is independent but receives most of its funding from Salt Lake City and County—decided to use its limited budget for facility improvements, especially bathrooms. Workman’s efforts prove that, despite the insistence of elected officials like Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, people are actually willing to do what it takes—fundraising within the local business community, suffer increased fees and taxes, even fork out money themselves to preserve the cultural celebrations that build a community.