Kanab residents and businesses are rallying to tell the world that the City Council's passage of a "natural family" resolution doesn't represent the opinions of all who live in the southern Utah town.
"So many people are up in arms about it and see it as we do, as discriminatory," said JoAnne Rando-Moon, who moved to Kanab seven years ago and owns a pet-supply business there. "The bottom line is that it's not the business of a city to tell people how to live their lives."
The resolution, approved in Kanab in January and drafted by the conservative Sutherland Institute, states that the local government supports "upholding the marriage of a woman to a man, and a man to a woman as ordained by God." The resolution also encourages homes to be open to a "full quiver of children" and young women to become "wives, homemakers and mothers."
The institute contacted 265 local governments in Utah urging them to pass the resolution and Kanab was the first and only one, so far, to do it.
The council's action drew national attention in March when vacation guru Arthur Frommer, author of "Frommer's Travel Guides," called for a boycott of Kanab. Frommer called the resolution "homophobic" and urged vacationers to avoid the town.
Residents now are starting a campaign to send a different message than that of the resolution. One group of residents is distributing a 6-inch round decal to businesses in Kanab that states, "Everyone is welcome," said Rando-Moon. So far, 82 businesses are displaying the decal on their front doors.
"We only had seven refuse it," she added. "Everybody's been really receptive to it. We just want everyone to feel welcome, period."
Other Kanab residents, calling themselves the "Take Our Community Back" group, are hosting their first public meeting Wednesday at the city library. Pat Keehley, assistant professor of political science and criminal justice at Southern Utah University, will lecture on the role of local government. KUER-FM's "Radio West" will also broadcast a live discussion on the issue from Kanab on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Cathy McCrystal, a member of the group, said she expects the meeting to center around good public policy and how to influence change in local government.
Carol Sullivan, the only council member who voiced support for revoking the resolution during the Feb. 28 meeting, said the issue has severely divided her town.
"I really hoped my fellow council members would rescind the resolution, but that's up to them now," she said. "I'm really worried for our businesses. One hotel in town has lost $14,000 because of cancellations. There are a lot of innocent people in business who are caught in the middle of this. I don't know where it's going or where it will end."
Councilman Anthony Chatterley issued a written statement at the Feb. 28 meeting, reiterating his support for the resolution. "It has never been the intent, nor do I believe the power is contained within the resolution to offend anyone," Chatterley said in his statement. "If I were now to change my vote because of some opposition in the future, my vote would be worth very little to nothing."Pastor Doug Hounshell of the Cliff View Baptist Chapel said he believes the resolution reflects community values. "I still get calls and e-mails from people who like the fact that the resolution is in place," he said.
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