Gay and lesbian Utahns have been a prominent part of the Utah Democratic Party for more than 15 years, but today's state-party convention will mark the first time some of them will join firearms advocates and owners to promote the Second Amendment among conventioneers.

Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah owner and longtime party leader David Nelson, who first organized gay and lesbian Democrats in 1990, accepted an invitation by state National Rifle Association leaders to help recruit more firearms advocates among Democrats.

Nelson and the leaders will share their ideas and information at an NRA-sponsored convention exhibit. The outreach was the idea of party Vice Chairwoman Nancy Jane Woodside, who is also a candidate for election to serve as chairwoman.

"Not surprisingly, many Democrats are already supportive of firearm ownership," Nelson said. "Our job is to reach out to those who haven't yet considered legal, responsible and safe self-defense as the human rights and winning Democratic issue that it is.

"From presidents Jefferson and Kennedy, and vice presidents Humphrey and Mondale, to national-party chairman Gov. Howard Dean and the state's own U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, traditional Democrats have a long and proud history of protecting the right to bear arms."

Based on their supportive opinions about the Second Amendment, Nelson endorsed Tracy Van Wagoner and Nancy Jane Woodside as candidates for party chairwoman; and Josh Ewing, Robert D. Miller and Colt Smith for vice chairman. If Nelson's 25-year state party past is an indication of his success, more Democrats might soon agree with his firearm-ownership ideas.

Today's convention is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Salt Palace Convention Center, where legally concealed firearms are permitted.