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Local Businesses Battle Utah Town Over Gays


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Local Businesses Battle Utah Town Over Gays

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

March 30, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Kanab, Utah) Signs began popping up in store windows this week in Kanab, Utah proclaiming ''Everyone welcome here!'' in a desperate move to avoid a threatened gay boycott. Some businesses went so far as putting small rainbow flag stickers on their front doors.

Dozens of business owners in the small southern Utah community are trying all they can to distance themselves from a proclamation by the city council that Kanab supports the "natural family" consisting of a working husband, a stay-at-home wife and a "full quiver of children."

The measure was passed by the council in January angering gays in the state and prompting LGBT groups to consider calling a boycott.

Well known syndicated travel columnist Arthur Frommer in an article called the council move discrimination.

"I think they know perfectly well this is a smokescreen for discriminating against gays," Frommer told the Associated Press this week. (story)

Tourism is Kanab's biggest industry and business owners say they need gay money.

"We're a tourist destination with people coming here to sleep and eat, and we [business owners] have worked hard to have something to show," pharmacist Kort Stirland told the Salt Lake Tribune.

His Zion Pharmacy has one of the welcome signs, which features a string of rainbow-colored human figures, in the window.

"It's not just about tolerance, but acceptance of those different from you," JoAnne Rando-Moon, owner of The Critter Corner, a pet-supply store, told the Tribune.

The signs and stickers are being distributed by the Kanab Boosters, a business owners group. The Boosters are selling the signs and small stickers for cars for between $2.50 and $4.50.

The group hopes to raise enough money to take out newspaper ads throughout the state to promote the town as a diverse place to vacation.

Ted Hallisey, the executive director of the county Travel Association says that his office has received hundreds of e-mails and letters from people threatening to scrap their travel plans over the council's resolution. But, he said, it was too early to tell what the economic impact might be.

Kanab is the only Utah governmental entity to pass the resolution, which was sent to cities all over Utah by the Salt Lake City-based Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank.

Earlier this week Sutherland President Paul Mero told the AP that studies show community problems such as crime, violence and poverty increase when family structures break down.

That view was supported by Councilor Terril Honey who voted for the measure. Honey, who also is a local businessman, said it isn't the council that is discriminatory, its the boosters.

He says that the poster and sticker campaign is likely to drive away families.

©365Gay.com 2006


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