SALT LAKE CITY — Standing on the Capitol steps in front of the small group gathered in support of a now frozen statewide anti-discrimination bill, proud mother Neca Allgood took a moment to brag about her son.
"He got a 35 on his ACT," she beamed, glancing over at 18-year-old Grayson Moore, who led a group of self-described "faithful Mormons" in singing hymns throughout Tuesday's rally for legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment practices.
Moore is also transgender, his mother said. He began the transition to living as a man during his junior year in high school.
Allgood, a Syracuse mother of three and a Sunday School teacher in her LDS ward, said she sees no difference between her three sons.
"I want all of my sons to have fair access to housing and employment," she said.
Like other speakers at the rally, Allgood quoted scripture and shared her feelings about Jesus Christ's teachings.
"This experience has made me ask myself, 'Am I doing enough to care for the sick, needy or strangers?'" she said.
Following the event, Moore told other supporters how grateful he is to have his mother's support. Having heard "horror stories" of people who struggled with gender identity and discrimination until choosing to take their own life, he said he's happy to have a story with a different ending.
Other speakers, including a current BYU professor and student, talked about the need to secure civil rights in the gay community, illustrated by a first-hand account of housing discrimination near the school.
Although SB262 met its end before hitting the Senate floor, the mostly Mormon group of about 50 supporters came to the capitol dressed in their Sunday best to declare their love for "our LGBT brothers and sisters."
The bill advanced further than similar anti-discrimination proposals in recent years, and it's likely to return for Utah's next legislative session. And so will Mormons for Equality, one of the groups supporting the rally.
Spencer Clark, the group's executive director, said he traveled to Utah from Washington, D.C., to attend the rally, despite SB262's demise.
"I certainly came out to ... meet our supporters," said Clark, who arrived in Salt Lake City about an hour before the event. "It was a great crowd. We had some very moving speakers, and their messages were very personal, and I hope people will listen to that."
Clark said he wants to return to Utah in 2014 and hopes he will find the Capitol steps and the lawn crowded with supporters rallying for anti-discrimination legislation.
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