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Rocky On 

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Rocky On

In the spirit of this week’s cover story—which depicts several hypothetical scenarios of a Wasatch Front earthquake—let’s fancy a different hypothetical scenario.

Imagine that after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued its July 7 statement in support of state and federal amendments banning gay marriage, city and state politicians reacted in dismay. Imagine that the Deseret Morning News quoted Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love as saying that the statement marked “the death knell” of dialogue between the church and Utah’s gays. Imagine that The Salt Lake Tribune took this statement from Councilman Dave Buhler: “It would be nice if the church used its office to try to bring people together, rather than using it as a platform for public policy that isn’t necessarily a part of church issues.”

There’s general agreement among Utah politicians that the LDS Church should’ve at least attempted dialogue with gays and lesbians before issuing such a strong statement.

Or, imagine that colleagues of Sen. Curt Bramble lambaste the Provo Republican for his ill-conceived Sen. Bill 68, which cuts off funding to doctors or hospitals that dare perform abortions unless they meet lawmakers’ criteria. Surely the good senator could have at least talked to women whose pregnancies ended in abortion because of grave fetal deformities before embarking on such arrogant legislation.

These are scenarios of which we can only dream. Yet, why is it that when Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson confronts the rigor mortis-like grip of Utah’s traditional conservative politics, he withstands a torrent of criticism? Granted, the man has his tempestuous moments. That doesn’t diminish his courage in stating what so many Salt Lakers, and even Utahns, at the other end of the political spectrum feel.

Recall that last week, in front of a national audience of lawmakers from other states, Mayor Anderson had the audacity to criticize local and state laws that lead outsiders to conclude that Utah is a “wacko, repressed place.” Among them Anderson cited our liquor laws, sex education policies, restrictions on dance clubs, pro-firearms policies, not to mention our favorite pastime of making sure uppity homosexuals don’t get any stupid ideas about equality, never mind adopting children. The mayor then demonstrated that these laws exact consequences. Salt Lake City lost a $2.6 million convention because of the state’s new law prohibiting adoption by gay couples.

Of course, Anderson was roundly chided. Legislators and some City Council members are tired of a mayor who states what so many in Salt Lake City feel. Remington Love told the D-News that Rocky’s comments reemphasized “the death knell” of relations between City Hall and the Legislature. Buhler told the Tribune, “It would be nice if the mayor were using his office to try to bring people together, rather than using the office as a platform for a number of views that aren’t necessarily city issues.” Rep. Stuart Adams, a Layton Republican, went so far as to tell the Tribune he hopes our crazed mayor “doesn’t go so far as to inflict his beliefs on everyone.” Everyone wondered why Mayor Anderson can’t simply talk to state lawmakers before speaking so loudly.

Hmmm. The reason could very well be that Mayor Anderson’s learned a few tricks from bigger boys on the block.

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