Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Lois Hooker and Deanna Pfeiffer share a laugh at the HRC Gala at the Orem home of Bruce Bastian.

OREM — Several movers and shakers in local politics and the national Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community turned out in support of the Human Rights Campaign Saturday at the fourth annual Utah HRC Gala.

The event took place at the home and gardens of national HRC board member and Utah resident Bruce Bastian. A crowd of 800 people gathered to have fun while they raised money for the HRC.

"We have a number of these events around the country, but beyond just fundraising, they really provide a door in to HRC and into activism," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "A lot of people wonder how do I get involved and how do I make my state a better place. All of the questions they might have are good, and we want to introduce them to the wonderful resource that is HRC."

In the four years that the HRC has held a gala dinner in Utah, it estimates it has raised a total exceeding $750,000. Tickets for Saturday's event were $175, with VIP tickets going for $300.

Guests participated in a silent auction prior to the dinner and then moved to large tent set up in a corner of Bastian's 8-acre property to dine and listen to Solmonese, Bastian and a keynote speaker, actress Kathy Najimy. Then they enjoyed a performance by singer Martha Wash.

The HRC, with more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide, is the largest national GLBT civil rights organization. However, it is far from an exclusively gay organization.

Bastian began his talk by saying the HRC needs the support of everyone.

"Utah is relatively new to having an organized HRC group here, but our dinner is one of the most successful in the nation every year since the first one that was put together," said Jerry Rapier, who represents Utah with the national HRC. "So there is a lot of support for the work of HRC."

Many local politicians turned out for the event. Some were first timers; others have been involved since the group began in Utah.

"An event like this gives a sense of community," said Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake. "This is 800 people coming together as a group that is looking for fairness and equal treatment for people in our society, so it is a nice opportunity to have that sense of purpose, and it's not just the gay community. There are so many family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors here in support as well."

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