Kanab Mayor Kim Lawson is hoping a crowd shows up tonight for a free concert in the high school gym, capping off an informal two-day "Celebration of the Family."
The event is supported by the conservative Sutherland Institute, which penned a controversial non-binding "Natural Family Resolution," passed earlier this year by the City Council. The resolution has drawn criticism from many of the town's 4,000 residents.
The council's action drew national attention in March when vacation guru Arthur Frommer, author of "Frommer's Travel Guides," called for tourists to boycott Kanab and said the resolution was "homophobic."
Lawson has defended his support of the resolution ever since its passage in January.
"We want people to come to Kanab and support the businesses," he said of the two-day festival, which began Friday. "This is in support of the American family, not necessarily the resolution."
The resolution 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 Sutherland Institute, in a May 25 news release, urged people to participate in the two-day event "as a way of showing support for the Kanab City Council's wisdom and courage in passing the Natural Family Resolution. This family event will also serve to give moral and economic support to the town."
Lawson said private donations would cover a $1,500 fee paid to the Bar G Wranglers for their Friday and Saturday performances.
"We have a few private donors that want to remain anonymous," he said, adding the police department would conduct free fingerprint sessions for children at the Kanab fire station. Up to 200 free welcome bags would also be available.
"We can provide a copy of the resolution if they wish to read it, too," he added.
Controversy erupted when the council refused to rescind the resolution, which some people in town said was discriminatory. The Sutherland Institute has since written and distributed a primer on the resolution to hundreds of government officials across the state.
But business owners in Kanab rallied to tell the world that the council's passage of the resolution doesn't represent the opinions of everyone in the town. They also have posted window stickers in their businesses that say, "Kanab welcomes everyone."
Brian Hyde, a longtime conservative radio talk-show host in Cedar City, first raised the idea of visiting Kanab with his listeners a few weeks ago. "I look at it this way: It's a cultural airlift to show support for the community," he said.
Some small-business owners in Kanab, however, said the event wasn't the answer to the town's economic concerns about the effects of the resolution."Once again, I think the mayor has gone about this all wrong," said JoAnne Rando-Moon, who owns Critter Corner, a pet supply store.
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