Community celebrates marriage equality at Vernon Worthen Park

Members and supporters of the LGBT community gather at Vernon Worthen Park to celebrate same-sex marriage being legalized in Utah, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – In the wake of same-sex marriage once again being legalized in Utah – the result of the U.S. Supreme Court denying the state’s request for consideration of its case Monday – people from across the Southern Utah community gathered at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George Monday night to celebrate.

(story continues below)

Videocast by Holly Coombs, St. George News

More than 100 supporters and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gathered in celebration of the same-sex marriage legalization. (See ed. note)

The coordinator of the event, Linda Stay, said she has two children who are openly gay, and she has been a supporter of Equality Utah for many years because of that. Once the announcement of the law passed, Stay said she started advertising the event.

At 11 a.m. Monday, she posted on Facebook and reserved the gazebo in the park to celebrate the news.

“It’s huge for our whole community,” Stay said. “The decision validates, recognizes and brings dignity to same-sex families; and anytime you do that, it brings dignity to my family.”

Stay spoke to the crowd and recognized many, including Utah’s Sen. Steve Urquhart, House of Representatives candidates Dorothy Engelman and Cheryl Hawker.

Sen. Steve Urguhart speaks at a celebration with members supporters of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender community, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Sen. Steve Urquhart speaks at a celebration hosted by members and supporters of the LGBT community, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

“It’s wonderful to be here,” Urquhart said. “Thank you for adopting me into your community. This is a tremendous celebration to gather here. Politically, we may disagree on some things, but there is one huge thing we agree on, and tonight is a huge night, so congratulations.”

Other supporters spoke, including George Stoddard, who said his granddaughter married in New York  and was able to adopt two children.

“Now, this month, at the end of this month, these two women are going to get a Utah marriage certificate,” Stoddard said. “My granddaughter-in-law will have legal rights in this relationship in which she has invested her whole being; and now, if something should happen, heaven forbid, to my granddaughter, there will be no question that it’s good for them, it’s good for the children, and that’s good for the family.”

The group attending the celebration enjoyed food and participated in a “love tunnel,” which consisted of the group splitting into two circles and holding hands around the gazebo while others slowly walked through the pathway they formed as the Judds’ song”Love Can Build A Bridge” played over speakers.

Randy Thomson and  Matthew Jacobson, members of the LGBT community, announced during the event that they will go before the St. George City Council on Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. to present a local nondiscrimination ordinance.

Thomson said he became open about his sexual orientation in 2008. He said it was difficult growing up in Utah, but he is grateful to see the law accepted.

“It makes Utah an even better place to live in,” Thomson said.

Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender community participate in a "love tunnel" as they celebrate same-sex marriage legalized in Utah, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Members and supporters of the LGBT community participate in a “love tunnel” as they celebrate same-sex marriage being legalized in Utah, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

The Supreme Court declined petitions for certiorari Monday morning asking it take up cases from Utah and other states regarding laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. The move effectively upholds rulings by lower district courts that pronounced such laws unconstitutional.

Read more: US Supreme Court denies hearing Utah’s petition on marriage statute

Gov. Gary Herbert said he was disappointed by the high court’s decision, but he also said the state will abide by it. The governor’s office subsequently instructed county clerks across the state to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage was originally made legal in Utah on Dec. 20, 2013, when federal District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Amendment 3, Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, was unconstitutional. Between that date and Jan. 6, 2014, more than 1,200 same-sex couples were issued marriage licensees by the state. All the while, Utah was making appeals to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay, or hold, on Shelby’s ruling. When Shelby’s ruling was stayed pending appeal, the state opted to petition the Supreme Court for review of the issues.

The stay remained in place until the Supreme Court denied hearing the issues and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its order reinstating the mandate of Shelby’s order. Same-sex marriage is, to date, effectively rendered legal in Utah until otherwise decided.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this story.

Ed. note: Number of attendees updated per communication from Dorothy Engelman.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

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  • ladybugavenger October 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    I can hardly wait for same sex divorce and the lgbt community asking themselves, what in the world were fighting for? Now, the government has time to clean up and prosecute the pedophiles in the polygamy communities.

  • ladybugavenger October 6, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    I can hardly wait for same sex divorce and the lgbt community asking themselves * what in the world were we fighting for?

    • Dana October 7, 2014 at 5:28 am

      At first, i thought your comment was such an ugly thing to say. But then, I considered the source …

  • Gary October 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    If I had considered supporting Steve Urquhart before today, his actions today changes that.

  • Bobber October 6, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Will they be even more gay now that they can get married? …and no one is gonna clean up the pedofiles in hildale. Not gonna happen.

  • bob October 7, 2014 at 7:07 am

    The joke is on them now they can be equally miserable whith the straight couples my only question is if they get in to a domestic violence how do you define a wife beater

  • MmmBacon October 7, 2014 at 7:35 am

    And the decay of society marches on…….

    • KOOLAID October 7, 2014 at 8:45 am

      How so? Utah was rife with polygamists, old men owning harems of women to include those preteen and pubescent child brides. Funny thing is you hear people bragging about their polygamist pioneer history not saying what a bunch of sicko pervs those old fellers were. Religious thing, which I’m guessing made pedophilia okay.

  • Dorothy Engelman October 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for covering this celebration of joy & love; however the estimation of thirty people in attendance is misleading especially when viewing the pictures. It was closer to 100+.

    • Jose October 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

      The more the gayer , isn’t being able to marry only about acceptance so you can validate your perversion as more normal?

    • Jose October 7, 2014 at 10:55 am

      You came up with 100+ by viewing the pictures . Your more amazing than even you thing you are.
      How many was there just to watch the freak show?

    • always.surprised October 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks for bringing that up! I wondered too when I saw that number, because there were so many more than “30” (as you can see in the photos) – I’m sure it was just a typo, right? It was a wonderful gathering, with such a spirit of peace and unity, and my family and friends and I enjoyed every minute of it! It was great to get back together with so many others of this supportive group of people to show there is love and caring in our community.

  • Slim October 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

    And then there’s Dorothy, hanging out to gather a few more votes…….. “always support whichever way the wind blows to get votes”. That’s the Democratic Mantra

    • Jose October 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I agree slim. The gay motto is; vote for what’s good for me not what’s good for my country .

    • Randy Thomson October 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Oh yeah because supporting Equality/LGBT Rights are SO POPULAR among Southern Utah voters *rolls eyes…
      Your ignorance and blind obedience are a shame to humanity, “SLIM”.. and what’s up with all the pseudonyms anyway??? Afraid of everyone knowing the true you??

  • KOOLAID October 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I’m happy for the equality thing and the end of yet another form of discrimination in Utah. Remember, interracial marriages were illegal in Utah. However, I’m not interested in seeing what may become multiple daily accounts of gay celebrations in St George. In my opinion, there are more important issues needing attention such as the political atmosphere of city code enforcement lawsuits. I’d rather see a news agency be more a watchdog on city government than a watchdog and reporting of these gay celebrations.

  • Ron October 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Yes, there will be divorce. Yes, there will be domestic violence. Is that what you anti-gay folks were doing? Trying to protect them from the downside of marriage? Don’t hide your hatred and prejudice under some phony mask of benevolence. All that has happened is that the LGBT community now has the same right to marry as the rest of us do. And that isn’t going to have any impact at all on you or me or society in general. And yes, they will have to deal with the same challenges we all face in a marriage situation. God bless them.

    • Jose October 7, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Most gays want marriage for the only purpose as to validate a perversion so as to feel more normal . Study’s have shown that 95 % of gays want to legalize marriage but don’t want to get married.
      To change the Christian meaning of marriage for the gay community’s purposes is the true meaning of selfishness.
      The more the gayer .

  • Meow Mix October 7, 2014 at 10:18 am

    My two female cats can happily live together, no longer subjected to criticism from roaming neighborhood tomcats that objected to their lifestyle.

  • Jose October 7, 2014 at 10:44 am

    The meaning of marriage has been soiled , From now on if somebody asks me if i am married I will repy no. But I have a temple marriage .
    Please gays don’t ever take that from me.

  • David Whipple October 7, 2014 at 11:21 am

    “Knowing what we know… Silence in the face of such calamity is sin.” Ezra Taft Benson 1981

    The battle wages on… choose your side carefully. One side always loses in the end.

  • Jose October 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I’m surprised that Obama has not chimed in on this. He would say , I have by passed a dysfunctional congress , so with a stroke of my pen I wrote a executive order so gays can all get married , because it’s the right thing to do for me , I mean America .

  • bob October 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Looks like a lot more than 30 supporters.

  • always.surprised October 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I’m “always surprised” that some choose to feel threatened by someone else’s happiness. Surprising to me. Always.

  • robert October 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    man’s law cannot make moral what god’s law deems immoral. That pretty much means the gays will never be equal. They still will be loved by God but their marriages are not accepted. There is no room for sin in the Kingdom of God. Gays hate religion and so do libs because it proves them wrong. Dorothy Englman is a Hypocrite who lives with the other hippies in Kayenta. She chooses to seperate herself from others unless they agree to live in a home made of brownish red squares with natural weeds as landscaping.If you do not agree to that them you are not welcome in Kayenta. She will vote yes like crazy though to let goverment housing flood any other part of Ivins. i.e. CCCH

  • Personal trained October 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    A hundred celebrate out of 65,000. That’s news worthy. I have had a hundred drunks show up and celebrate that the sun was shining no one said nothing. But I am glad to see that these kind of people look like the rest of us that they have eating disorders, they don’t exercise, not very attractive and dresses poorly. But we all love you guys and gals hope you multiple and replenish the earth. It’s like the scholar of the book one plus one equals zero page 372 I love lgbt life style so much I wish your parents were one. Love you all no matter what size.

  • Lizard October 8, 2014 at 1:09 am

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the centrality of doctrines relating to human sexuality and gender as well as the sanctity and significance of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.However, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Church apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook stated, “As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
    I cannot imagine the pains of one with same sex attraction, especially in Utah. I am straight and enjoy an LDS temple marriage however, I do believe everyone deserves someone to grow old with. I also hope Utah will accept members of the LGBT community that pass a background check, fingerprinting, home inspection ect… Could be Foster Parents.

  • Stud October 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I believe utah excepts this different life style. But they are skeptics to this life style. As you can read from earlier comments people quote statistics about utah and lds faith that are always lies and that are false. Maybe we except gays they will then stop the lies. It’s hard to know what they believe because it changes daily. When you ask the gay community why they want everyone to except their marriges as equal. The first thing they talk about is the financial gain they recieve by paying less taxes, and better loans on housing rates. I don’t know any heterosexual people that use these excuses to build their marrige on. Men marry women because God said to do it that way. No more no less.

    • Dana October 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

      Maybe you should learn the difference between accept and except. Are you a product of the failing Utah educational system?

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