Optimism encouraged in same-sex activism

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a Utah alumni, addresses students and visitors at the SJ Quinney Law School January 21st. Colby Patterson
Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, speaks on equality and the LGBT community. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, speaks on equality and the LGBT community. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Kate Kendell’s mother is proud of her.

“She takes care of all the gays and lesbians in the world,” she said of her daughter.

Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, spoke at the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s symposium on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The event focused on finding equality in the LGBT community after and beyond marriage.

Kendell is a firm believer in “same love” and shared her insights and taught LGBT supporters how to teach others their side with a respectful approach, encouraging activists to be as friendly as possible at any rally or event regarding marriage equality.

“Take doughnuts, shake hands and say ‘Sorry, you’re not going to win the games,’ ” Kendell said.

Admitting to be the kind of person who sees the glass half full, Kendell shed a positive light on events such as the 2008 Proposition 8 election in California. She said the passing of Prop 8, although a discouraging experience in her life, caused people to force out fear and start talking about the issues.

Kendell said bringing the topic into the spotlight helped supporters of Prop 8 remember justice, equality, dignity and humanity.

Christopher Eberhart, a BYU graduate who works at the U in UIT University Support Services as a programmer, was married on Dec. 20, 2013 to his partner of two and a half years. He volunteers for the Human Rights Campaign and feels Utah has come a long way with LGBT equality.

Eberhart feels marriage for same-sex couples in Utah is inevitable and could happen within three years at the most.

Louise Knauer, a supporter of same-sex marriage who celebrated her anniversary of twelve years with her partner on Dec. 27, was the first director of the Women’s Studies at the U in 1978 and has been involved in equality rights since then.

Knauer said Kendell’s symposium was important because Kendell reminded supporters of same-sex marriage “not to throw rocks.”

Kendell said supporters of same-sex-marriage have a responsibility to kindly approach opponents of same-sex marriage with joy and love.

“Help them … engage them,” Kendell said.

She also reminded people to not be pessimistic about how long it will take Utah to legalize same-sex marriage.

She believes Utah will not even fall in the final five states to pass laws for marriage equality and hopes other states will one day look to Utah as an example of positive change.

“If you are a bystander, you are an enemy,” Kendell said.

e.trepanier@chronicle.utah.edu