Talking to Senator Buttars

Senator Chris Buttars
Senator Chris Buttars
Eric Ethington and Elaine Ball
Eric Ethington and Elaine Ball

Some of you may know that I am the founder of the group PRIDE In Your Community, a LGBTQ and ally group that performs community service projects in an attempt to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and the rest of Utah. This past Saturday, Jan 17th, we held our most recent service event, delivering home-made pumpkin bread to legislators and their neighbors while promoting Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative.

Erring perhaps on the side of gusto, we decided to start with the neighborhood of none other than Senator Chris Buttars. We arrived at about 11am, and wanting to visit the Senator first, knocked on his door immediately. Imagine our disappointment, when no one answered the door! But soon after, while we were preparing to start knocking on doors, the Senator pulled up with his groceries in the trunk. We approached him on his driveway as he was unloading, and asked if we could speak to him about the local gay issues.
Mr. Buttars invited us into his study, and there gave us about an hour o uninterrupted time with him. Elaine and I had discussed this previously, and had decided that the best approach would be to take a humanistic approach, rather than legal or emotional. We shared with him the importance of these issues to us. For me in particular, I tend to focus the most heavily on the workplace and housing protections. Not enough people are aware that in Utah it is completely legal to fire someone, or evict them from their homes for no other reason than their sexual orientation. And as someone who has been both fired and evicted for that reason (as well as I work in Provo currently) they’re issues I am constantly worried about.
Senator Buttars was actually very receptive to the message, and expressed a great deal of empathy for those issues, claiming to frown on that type of discrimination.
One thing that enormously struck me during our conversation however, was how closely even those bills are linked in perhaps many legislator’s minds with same-sex marriage. I think this is a major road-block that needs to be taken care of in Utah in order to get any of these bills passed. Everyone needs to understand exactly what these bills are, and what they are not!
After speaking with Senator Buttars, we delivered our pumpkin bread and message to about 40 of his closest neighbors. Surprise surprise again, when 90% of them were incredibly receptive and supportive of these rights!
We were walking on air at this point, so we decided to drive down to Draper, and talk to Rep. Greg Hughes. Mr. Hughes was just as receptive as the Senator, and took many of the same stances, reaffirming to us the need for greater education and awareness in “straight” Utah.
I truly believe that these types of events will make a difference. Senator Buttars (in all likelihood) isn’t going to immediately change his stance on these civil rights issues, however if we keep going, and we talk to more and more people, the less and less people will perceive us as some evil entity, and more as human individuals.
For the article in the trib about this event, please see

4 responses to this post.

  1. […] Edited to add: Eric Ethington’s own blog post on his experience talking with Sen. Chris Buttars can be found here. […]


  2. Posted by Patrick on January 23, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Eric, You rock. I can’t believe you’re doing this. It’s like reading history. Thank you so much for doing this — this is truly awesome.


  3. […] in a community-outreach effort with PRIDE In Your Community. During what has been called the “Pumpkin Bread Talks” Chris Buttars made it very clear that although he claimed to be sympathetic, he was in no […]


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