If Paul Mero owned a billboard, it would read: "Thank Kanab. Visit Kanab. Stand up for Something."
Mero, president of the conservative Sutherland Institute, believes that Kanab is being unfairly singled out for a boycott after its City Council adopted a "Natural Family Resolution."
So, he's hoping to clear up confusion about the nonbinding resolution sent to local officials across the state last fall. He's sent an explanation of the resolution to city and county councils and to state lawmakers.
Kanab is the only city that has adopted the resolution so far. It was sent across the state last fall, urging support of "natural families" with women as "wives, homemakers and mothers," and men as "husbands, homebuilders and fathers."
"Those are good people down there," Mero said. "The rest of us ought to not sit idly by and let them take any kind of a beating. . . . We hope other city councils will revisit the idea and look at it more seriously."
Arthur Frommer, author of "Frommer's Travel Guides," has called for a boycott of the southern Utah city of 3,564, saying that the resolution is discriminatory.
Mike Thompson, executive director of the gay-rights advocacy group Equality Utah, said the resolution is discriminatory because it asks councils to "consider the natural family as the filter for all public policy.
"I think the reaction that Kanab has received is an indication that adopting such a policy is just a bad way for communities to do business," Thompson said. "Narrowly defining a family is just short-sighted."
Mero said he's surprised that "there just isn't that immediate gut support for the resolution," even among the state's LDS community.
However, in Kanab, Mayor Kim Lawson and the City Council are standing behind the resolution.
It's tough to say if the boycott is having an impact on his city, which is also being hit by poor weather and high gas prices, Lawson said. One thing outside pressure is accomplishing, though, is a rift in his community.
"Kanab has been, and is, a warm, friendly and tolerant community," Lawson said. "We invite people from all walks of life to visit our community. That has not changed."
In resending the resolution, Mero hopes to explain that it is simply a vision statement, meant to say "I know what this place could look like."
Rather than admonishing those who don't fit the definition such as single parents it's meant to be a positive message, he said.
"I don't assume a single mother wants to remain a single mother," he said. "It's good to aspire to a two-parent family structure . . . even outside of that better two-parent family structure."
Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, said he hadn't reviewed the resolution in full, but he supports the concept. He said, however, he isn't sure lawmakers would act on it.
"I think it's important for the government to support the basis of our society, which is the family," Tilton said. "The Legislature states its positions by developing code and policy; a lot of times people are hesitant to do it by resolution."The resolution and explanation are available online at www.sutherlandinstitute.org.
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