Keep Moving Forward, Utah 

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I’ve lived in Utah for almost 50 years. During my presence, much has changed and moved forward, though there are still areas of potential growth and acceptance.

1. How many residents realize that SLC is one of the largest refugee reception areas? We are privileged to have families who are living here from Tonga, Samoa, Sudan, Somalia, Bosnia, Mexico, Central and South America, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, etc.

2. How many local residents are willing to attend a festival celebrating another culture’s education and tradition?

3. How much energy has been spent to provide housing, education, monies, resources, etc., to help them recover from a life of horror that is beyond most of what we can imagine?

I feel it’s tragic that there are not more events that are publicized to encourage education and exposure to the many wonderful cultures and life stories that are so close in our community. There is so much to experience and to help us realize that we are all human beings.

Working with health-care providers from other countries, I’ve come to appreciate the similarities, differences and acceptance and willingness to share commonalities while respecting differences. Much learning has occurred, for which I’m grateful.

In summary, if Utah is so accepting of so many other cultures and beliefs, then why can’t I marry the love of my life? A woman marrying a woman, with two families whose children have accepted the other partner, a birth certificate with two women’s names on it. We’re both tax-paying individuals, support our families, provide a service to the community, yet we are second or third-class citizens.

I legally adopted my child before it became illegal in Utah, provided the needs for raising a child—sparing no expense for braces, medical care, education, etc., with no regret. My current partner has accepted her as one of her own. My ex is still in the picture and is happy that our child has another family with my partner. Yet, we’re not recognized as a couple, family or citizen.

It is my hope that within 10 to 20 years, the community will recognize that genes are what they are. I was raised by heterosexual, Mormon-temple-married parents. My child is raised by lesbians and is completely, 100 percent heterosexual. Go figure.

Heather Campbell
Salt Lake City

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