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A Utah official deserves national praise
by Bryan Gray
Jun 29, 2016 | 2368 views | 0 0 comments | 318 318 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This election I had a difficult time deciding my vote in the primary election for Utah’s governor. I agreed with some of the libertarian statements of Jonathan Johnson, but his extreme far right positions on public education and public lands made me uneasy. I was upset with Gov. Gary Herbert’s “open donation” invitation to lobbyists and, in my view, his inability to take firm, principled stands.

I only wish I could have voted for a real leader … someone like Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox who, as you probably know, is receiving national raves for his recent speech to a predominately gay audience. Here are excerpts from his address in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.

“I recognize that I am a balding, middle-aged straight, white, male, Republican, politician – with all of the expectations and privileges that come with those labels … I don’t pretend to know the depths of what you are feeling. But I do know what it feels like to be scared. I do know what it feels like to be sad. I do know what it feels like to be rejected. And, more importantly, I know what it feels like to be loved.

“I grew up in a small town and went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class that were different. Sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved … Over the intervening years, my heart has changed … You have been patient with me.

“I am speaking now to the straight community. How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.

“Usually when tragedy occurs, we see our nation come together. I was saddened, yesterday to see far too many retreating to their over-worn policy corners and demagoguery. Let me be clear, there are no simple policy answers … Today we need fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats. Today we need more Americans.

“But just because an easy solution doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. The greatest generations in the history of the world were never innately great. They became great because of how they responded in the face of evil … Can we, the citizens of the great state of Utah, lead the nation with love in the face of adversity? Can we become a greatest generation?

“I promise we can. But I also promise it will never happen if we leave it to the politicians … It must happen at a personal level. We must learn to truly love one another.

“The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: ‘You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another.’ Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.’

“And so may we leave today, with a resolve to be a little kinder … For my straight friends, might I suggest starting with someone who is gay … On behalf of the 3 million people of the state of Utah, We Are Orlando. We love you. And I love you.”

In the 33 years of this column, this is only the second time I have turned the space over to someone else. This week it was not because I was lazy, it is because I couldn’t have said or written it any better.

The opinions stated in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ownership or management of this newspaper.

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