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August 12, 2011

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HRC’s “On the Road to Equality” Nationwide LGBT Bus Tour Makes Inaugural Stop in Salt Lake City

17 city tour kicks off at Utah Pride Center today as new polling shows strong support for many LGBT issues

8/12/2011

Salt Lake City – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, launched “On the Road to Equality,” a nationwide bus tour to spread the message of equality, in Salt Lake City today. The tour will span the country, educating the American public and empowering LGBT people to become advocates for themselves and their families.  The inaugural stop kicked off with a press conference and a ribbon cutting ceremony at 3:00 p.m. on August 12 at the Utah Pride Center, 355 North 300 West.  Press information on the entire “On the Road to Equality” tour can be found online at www.hrc.org/roadtoequality.

“Across the country, hearts and minds are changing in favor of LGBT equality and the fair-minded people of Utah are no different,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “I can’t think of a better place to kick off our national bus tour than Salt Lake City.  This inaugural stop promises to be enriching and informative and will leave LGBT Utahans with a sense of pride and empowerment.”

“We have a strong and proud LGBT community in Utah, but we know we have a lot of work to do in the fight for equality,” said Utah philanthropist and HRC board member Bruce Bastian.  “We are excited to have the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, behind us as we push for fairness across our state.  HRC understands that Utah is critical in the national movement.”

“The Utah Pride center is honored to host the kickoff event for the HRC nationwide bus tour,” said UPC Executive Director Valerie Larabee.  “We appreciate each and every opportunity to foster the growing grassroots dialogue occurring daily in Utah families, neighborhoods and communities. Working together we will ultimately make equality a reality for every member of our LGBT family.

In conjunction with the bus tour, HRC also released both Utah and nationwide polls that found Utahans and people across the country widely support LGBT equality issues but more work remains to be.  In Utah, the poll shows a huge majority support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, by better than a 2:1 margin. Utahans also support allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements that give them many of the same rights as marriage, and better than seven in ten residents support laws prohibiting bullying and harassment against minority groups in schools, including LGBT students or the children of LGBT parents.   Nationally, polling shows support for equal marriage at 51 percent (43 percent in the Midwest and South), in line with other national polls on the issue. Support for non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations is strong nationally at 79 percent, as is support for protections against bullying in schools at 73 percent.  Nationally respondents also overwhelmingly say anti-gay discrimination is a problem (79 percent) and anti-transgender discrimination is a problem (74 percent).  Full poll results can be found online at www.hrc.org/EqualityTourPress.

In addition to the press conference and ribbon-cutting, Salt Lake City events include a presentation titled “On the Road to Equality, the State of the LGBT Movement” with remarks by HRC President Joe Solmonese and HRC staff, a discussion titled Pathways to Acceptance: Supportive Families, Healthy Communities, an informal 5k fun run around Liberty Park benefiting Volunteers for America’s efforts to establish transitional housing for homeless boys, a panel discussion on faith advocacy cosponsored by Equality Utah featuring local clergy with a focus on using your faith when speaking to legislators, and “Club Equality” a party benefiting the Utah Pride Center at Club Sound featuring information on the LGBT movement and a performance by Gavin Creel.

The bus will be accompanied by an exhibit offering primers on everyday life topics including: your family, your health, your rights, your community, your faith, your workplace and your story.

Other stops on the tour schedule are:

Aug 19-21         Omaha & Lincoln, NE
Aug 26-28         Lawrence, KS & Kansas City, MO
Sept 1-5             New Orleans, LA
Sept 9-11           Austin & College Station, TX
Sept 16-18         Little Rock, AR
Sept 23-25         Louisville & Lexington, KY
Sept 30-Oct 3    Washington, DC
Oct 7-9              Atlanta, GA
Oct 14-16          Birmingham & Tuscaloosa, AL
Oct 21-23          Jacksonville, FL
Oct 28-30          Orlando, FL

Among the 11 states the “On the Road to Equality” tour will visit, none has a state-wide non-discrimination law including sexual orientation or gender identity.  Additionally, none has any form of state relationship recognition and all have passed discriminatory constitutional amendments to ban marriage for same-sex couples.  Many have laws prohibiting the positive discussion of gays and lesbians in schools and few have safe-schools laws that include LGBT students.  More on the legal landscape in these states is at www.hrc.org/roadtoequality.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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