Utah Democrats Choose First Openly Gay Leader


Utah’s Democrats chose last weekend to elect their new chairman and made history at the same time by selecting Jim Dabakis, an openly gay man, to take the party reigns.

Dabakis is believed to be Utah’s first openly gay leader of a major party. Speaking to The Salt Lake Tribune, Dabakis was keen to point out that his sexuality had not been made an issue:

Dabakis, who is an art dealer and co-founder of both the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah, said his election shows how fair-minded the people of Utah are.

“I visited all 29 counties during the last five months, and people were very interested in what kind of a job I would do and what my experience was,” Dabakis said. “The whole gay thing just simply did not surface as an issue. People are broad-minded in Utah, and they want to know if you can do the job or not.”

Dabakis’ wish to reach out to moderate Republicans and Independents who have recently found themselves disenfranchised as the far-right has grown in prominence has been cited as one of the ways in which Dabakis will draw more support to the Democratic party. Dabakis has also emphasized that he wants to reach out to members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Debakis is quoted as saying: “I want to talk to LDS people and I want to tell them that we want them in our party, we need them in our party. We recognize that they have a great deal to contribute. … As chair, my commitment is to make sure that LDS people feel comfortable in our Democratic tent. Sometimes, we haven’t been as warm and as inviting as we should be.”

This is, perhaps, where Debakis’ sexuality might be important if only by virtue of the fact that Dabakis, as an openly gay Democrat, has the potential to build bridges with LDS members. In so doing he stands a chance at eroding the notion that gay rights and other progressive causes must always come at the expense of religious rights and freedom.

The Church was of course found to be one of the biggest donors to the Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage campaign  in California, so a chance at better relations can only be a good thing.

Related Reading:

Report Finds “Pervasive” Anti-LGBT Workplace Discrimination in Utah

Survey Links Religious Condemnation to LGBT Youth Suicides

Rep. Baldwin Introduces Bill to Speed Up Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to -Marlith-.

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K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

christopher murray

And to think I thought the mormen led state was a complete waste of space.

Alan Mcreynolds
Alan Mcreynolds4 years ago

another step down in America's descent toward depravity, perversion and turning its back on the God who blessed this country!

Silvia G.
Silvia G.4 years ago

This shouldn't be any new. the sad thing is that it actually is. Hope it continues this way!

Patty L.
Patty L.4 years ago

Finally, Democratic state party with the ability to exhibit some balls. YEAH!

Edith B.
Edith B.4 years ago

I never thought I would live to see this happen.

Samuel B.
Samuel B.4 years ago

I am pleased to see such an enlightened thing in a state like Utah that is often thought of as being extremely conservative due to the Mormon influence. It's great that people are beginning to realize that being gay has nothing to due with someone's qualifications or abilities. I hope that Mr. Dabakis is able to provide a positive example to show that sexuality should not be an issue. Hopefully, one day people will stop worrying about what others do in the bedroom and focus on the things that actually matter.

Randall S.
Randy Stein4 years ago

Sounds like they picked the right person for the job!!!

Kathryn Terhune Cotton

Well excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor! Will wonders never cease.

Could the republican party actually be taking a step toward social progress???? Or is this a plot? (sorry, I want to believe, but it so hard...)

Cheryl M. D.
Cheryl Dare4 years ago

Hah! to Utah's mormons who think they have a majority and can control all elections. It's time to stop preaching any other sexuality besides heter with marriage and children is the ONLY way to be! Let's recall Utah's conservatives and mormons. You go, Dabakis, and you go, Democratic party. What anyone does in private is nobody else's business.