Pioneers of Equality in Flagstaff, Arizona
August 12, 2013 by Marty Rouse, National Field Director
Located a stone's throw off of Route 66, Flagstaff's Weatherford Hotel opened in the days of the Wild West and has hosted such famous Americans as President Theodore Roosevelt, cowboy author Zane Grey, publisher William Randolph Hearst and artist Thomas Moran, who stayed here between visits to what became known as Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon, which he was sketching.
I had breakfast at the hotel recently with two leaders of Flagstaff's LGBT community, Kat Jim and Brett Caldwell. Jim leads the Northern Arizona Pride Association and Caldwell serves on the Board and is involved in local politics. Hearty is the best word to describe our conversation -- and our breakfast. We shared generous portions of pancakes and Navajo bread along with stories of LGBT opportunities at the local, state and national level. Jim spoke with pride that the city council voted unanimously in favor of a fully-inclusive non-discrimination employment and public accommodations ordinance earlier this year. We also spoke about working together to educate Arizonans about marriage equality and of the upcoming vote in the U.S. Senate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake being key votes.
As we sat sipping our coffees, I couldn't help but notice the pictures hanging on the walls of Charly's Restaurant in this historic and rumored to be haunted Weatherford Hotel. The pictures showed the hotel as it stood in the early 1900s; on a dirt road with passersby looking as if they were on the movie set of any American Western. As America was growing and changing, pioneers stopped in Flagstaff. Sitting across from Jim and Caldwell, I realized that they are pioneers themselves. Fighting for equal rights for all, including LGBT people, they are pioneers for equality.
I look forward to returning soon to Flagstaff and other cities in Arizona as the Human Rights Campaign continues to work with local leaders and other organizations working to help America live up to her promise of liberty and justice for all.
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