You should vote for Derek Kitchen (Here’s why)

derekkitchen

On a recent Friday night, I met with Derek Kitchen, candidate for Salt Lake City’s City Council District 4 to knock on doors in his district. You probably remember Derek from the Kitchen v. Herbert (2013) case, which challenged Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Derek, his now-husband, Moudi Sbeity, and two other couples paved the way for marriage equality in our notoriously conservative state. With his signature mustache, and his hand over his heart, Derek fought for the entire State of Utah, but now he’s fighting for District 4 where he lives and owns a small business. The issues near and dear to Derek’s heart are affordable housing, small & local business development, and sustainable energy, to name a few, but the common thread within all of those issues is Derek’s commitment to social justice. 

After we finished knocking on doors I sat down with Derek at Taqueria 27 to talk about his campaign platform. For the sake of full-disclosure I want to let you know that Derek and I have been friends for a while, we met in 2009 at the Salt Lake Community College. Interviewing Derek the candidate doesn’t look all that different from dinners I’ve had with Derek my friend. He talked passionately about his commitment to bi-partisan solutions, explaining how he’s not going to get bogged down in politics to the detriment of his beloved city. Earlier that week he met with U.S. Representative Mia Love, and a work group within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Derek spoke affectionately about both meetings, and how he believes that even when it seems like you have nothing in common, you can come together for the sake of your city.

It was a breath of fresh air to hear someone talk about putting welfare over politics, but the high point in the night was listening to Derek talk about small business development. For Derek small business growth is as personal as it is political. Him and his partner, Moudi, own Laziz Foods, a middle eastern spreads company they started in 2012. Laziz has grown from humble beginnings at local farmer’s markets to grocery stores across the valley, with a possible cafe expansion in the future. Derek emphatically pointed out that:

“For every dollar you spend at a local business, three times more stays in our economy than if it were spent at a national chain. In fact, spending just 10% more to local businesses would keep approximately $1.3 billion in the Utah economy each year.”

And it’s not just the economics of small business that matter–Derek is committed to creating work and shopping environments that better serve marginalized people in District 4 (i.e. gender neutral bathrooms and farmers markets that accept SNAP benefits). He is deeply invested in small business, but at the heart of that investment is his commitment to equality. A prime example of this took place a few days after our meeting–Derek went out with the 4th Street Clinic mobile outreach team to witness firsthand the medical services they provide to people living in homelessness. He isn’t afraid to dive right and learn about the issues, and I know that no one will be left behind with Derek Kitchen as the District 4 councilman.

Our interview meandered from topic to topic as we noshed on guacamole. We covered everything from sustainability (Laziz is a certified Zero Waste business) to police brutality and rape kit backlogs. But the most profound thing Derek said all night was, “Just because something doesn’t affect me directly, or I don’t talk about it daily, doesn’t mean I can’t champion the cause. I’m always open to hearing about issues I may have missed.” Derek Kitchen is the real deal–a compassionate, fair-minded, social justice advocate with a grasp of the issues facing his community, and even better, a willingness to listen when he doesn’t understand.

I urge you to remember that local elections like council District 4 impact your day-to-day life in profound ways, and local elections really do hinge on a handful of votes. Only 3660 people voted in the District 4 primary (Derek received a staggering 36% of those votes). His challenger in the general election made it to the general election by a meager forty-eight votes. It truly matters when you do or don’t cast your ballot, so take the time to register, and remember that this year’s election is by mail.  If you’re like me, and you support Derek, but don’t live in his area, consider volunteering with the campaign by reaching out online to his campaign manager, Mike Harmond. You’ll knock on some doors, meet new people, and spread the word about a great, trustworthy candidate for District 4.

Can Derek count on your vote in November? Tell us why in the comments!

Urgent: Governor Herbert Diverts Planned Parenthood Funding

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-UtahGovernor Gary R. Herbert ordered agencies to stop sending federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. What does this mean? According to the Governor’s office, these are the funds being held hostage:

Planned Parenthood’s budget for fiscal 2015 includes about $100,000 for STD testing and reporting, $115,000 for “abstinence education and personal responsibility education” and $1,339 for providing pregnancy tests and STD screenings to victims of rape and sexual assault.

Gary Herbert is putting Utahns at risk for purely political reasons. I urge you to contact his office. Here are some tips for writing to public officials:

  • Use their official title

  • Let them know if you are a constituent

  • Be polite, no personal attacks

  • Get to the point–include your topic, concerns, and a quick fact to make your point

  • Be direct and keep it brief

  • Ask them to contact you—include your contact information

Feel free to copy and paste my statement below and switch out your name and include contact information:

Governor Herbert,

I am usually a proud Utahn, but today I am ashamed. I am ashamed that the governor of my home state put politics over women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides invaluable healthcare and education to Utah’s most vulnerable populations. Planned Parenthood uses its federal funds appropriately, and it uses them well. You are playing politics with the lives of your constituents.

I am appalled, and I urge you to re-think your decision

Sincerely,

Chelsea Kilpack, West Jordan

Governor Herbert reports to us! Let him know he’s doing a bad job!

Yes, It Is Rape In Every Instance

Image from UCASA

Image from UCASA

Yesterday HB 74 went to committee at the Utah State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Representative Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City), would clarify consent laws to include language that protects people with disabilities from sexual assault, as well as anyone who is unconscious at the time of assault. The bill seems pretty cut and dry to anyone with a slight understanding of healthy sex and sexuality, but a few legislators voiced concern on some really unsettling grounds.

Why would anyone hesitate to pass this bill?

Well, because they want to have sex with their wife while she’s unconscious! (Which is rape, just so we’re clear.) “If an individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious … a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape, theoretically,” said Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove. Yup, that’s exactly right, Mr. Greene. That husband should be charged with sexual assault, because he doesn’t have free rein over his wife’s body. Greene went on to question whether sex with an unconscious person is “rape in every instance.” 

Rep. Greene wasn’t the only offensive blowhard in the conversation, Representative LaVar Christensen (R-Draper) chalked the whole discussion up by saying, “It’s an uncomfortable discussion to even have.” Do you know what’s more uncomfortable than discussing sexual assault? Being sexually assaulted, which is why the bill is being proposed!

The State of Utah has a serious sexual assault problem that needs to be addressed. In Utah 1 in 3 women will experience sexual assault, and rape is the only category of violent crime that outpaces national averages in Utah.  We need HB74, and if it wasn’t clear before, the conversation yesterday crystallized the need.

Some closing points to remember:

1. You don’t own your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, intimate partner, etc.. You do not have the right to sexual access of your intimate partner whenever you see fit.

2. Consent is not a one-time transaction. Someone who has sex with you once doesn’t have to have sex with you again.

3. Consent is ongoing. You should receive verbal and physical cues from your sexual partner throughout your sexual interaction.

4. Consent to one sexual act does not mean consent to another (agreeing to penile vaginal contact doesn’t mean you have consent for penile anal contact).

5. We vote for these people. Remember their names during the election. Should these guys be in charge of decisions?

You can follow the bill here as it heads out of committee.

Weekly Feminist Happenings October 28th-November 3rd

Utah NOW Feminist potluck

Tuesday, October 28th

Poetry Outloud Participation: Utah Arts & Museums invites all Utah secondary educators to encourage students to participate in Poetry Out Loud. Poetry Out Loud is a national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation that encourages students in grades 9-12 to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. Details: For information on participating, call 801-533-5760 or e-mail pol@utah.gov.

Candidates Night: Trinity AME Community Church will host a candidates night featuring candidates for the Attorney General, County District Attorney, Congressional representatives, State Senate, House Representatives, Salt Lake City/County Council and Salt Lake City School Board will be present. Details: From 6-8 p.m. at the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church (239 E. 600 South, Salt Lake City).

Rigoberto Gonzalez And Natasha Saje: Poetry reading with Rigoberto Gonzalez And Natasha Saje.Rigoberto González (born 1970) is an American writer and book critic. He is an editor and author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual children’s books, and self-identifies in his writing as a gay Chicano.  Details:  Starts at 7 p.m. at the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business (1840 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City).

Wednesday, October 29th

Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp: Lily Nakai and her family lived in Southern California until 1942, when this 10-year-old girl found herself living in a tar-papered barrack, gazing at barbed wire and nightly searchlights. During the presentation, Ms. Nakai Havey will share reflections from her, “Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp,” which combines storytelling, watercolor, and personal photographs to recount her youth in two Japanese American internment camps during World War II. Details: Fromt 6-8 p.m. at the University of Utah College of Social Work (395 S. 1500 East #111, Salt Lake City).

Friday, October 31st

Screening of To Be Takei: The documentary “To Be Takei,” a profile of George Takei, whose life has included time in a World War II internment camp, helming the U.S.S. Enterprise as Lt. Sulu on “Star Trek,” and his resurgence as a gay-rights advocate. Details: Starts at 8 p.m. at The Prospector (2175 Sidewinder Drive, Park City).

Saturday, November 1st

Feminist Potluck and Community Meeting with Utah NOWJoin Utah NOW for some free food and mix and mingle with fellow feminists. There will be vegan and gluten free options. We are distributing surveys to find out which issues mean the most to you in your community! Children are welcomed and encouraged! Details: From 4-6 p.m. at the SLC Artst Hub (663 West 100 South).

Monday, November 3rd

Serving People with Disabilities from Various Cultures: Topics will include: • Assumptions, Stereotypes and Generalizations • Culture and Cultural Competency • Communicating with People with Disabilities • Service Animals and Other Accommodations • Effects of Violence and Trauma on Disability • Response to Victims with Disabilities Details: From 1-4 p.m. at the Salt Lake County Complex (2001 S. State St., Salt Lake City) Room N3005, North Bldg., Please RSVP at lynelle.chenn@usu.edu or 435-797-8807.

Screening of Lady Valor with discussion afterward: Former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Beck executes a personal mission, as Kristin Beck, in search of life, liberty, and happiness—the American ideals she once protected in the military. A post-film discussion with Kristin Beck will immediately follow the film. Details: Starts at 7 p.m. at the Sorenson Unity Center (1383 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City).

Tell us about your event here! 

Weekly Feminist Happenings July 29th to August 4th

PIoneering Women

Tuesday, July 29th

Review of Utah Library Media Standards for Public Schools: On Friday, May 9, the Utah State School Board reviewed and discussed the Utah Standards for Library Media (grades 6-12). They voted to allow the Standards to move forward to public comment. On Monday, May 19, the Standards were posted on the USOE website for all interested members of the public to comment after reading them. Review, insight, and comments from all stakeholders in Utah—teacher librarians, teachers, administrators, and parents—are a critical part of this public comment session! Please read them and submit your feedback before August 17, 2014.

Wednesday, July 30th

Pioneering Women in Utah’s History Tour with Utah NOW: Come learn about Utah’s interesting history of women in politics with Utah NOW. One of our members has designed an amazing tour to help engage women of all ages with the history of our foremothers and their influence in Utah’s political landscape. Details: From 6-7 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol 30 spots are available! Reserve your spot by emailing nowutah@gmail.com with your name and phone number.

Thursday, July 31st

The 3% Road Show: Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, will give a seminar on the business value that diversity delivers to agencies, advertisers, and their clients. She will be followed by a panel discussion, with time set aside for cocktails and mingling. Details:  From 4:30-8: 30 p.m. at the Gallivan Center (239 S Main St., Salt Lake City). Register here.

Friday, August 1st

Park City Kimball Arts Festival: Make sure to visit the Kimball Arts Festival in Park City from August 1-3. Check out more event info on the Kimball Arts Center Festival page.

Film screening of Twenty Feet from Stardom: The annual Sundance Institute Summer Series is back and our 2014 line up has something for everyone. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and bring your friends to enjoy Sundance Film Festival favorites under the stars. All screenings are free and open to the public. No ticket needed. Details: From 9-11 p.m. at City Park (1354 Park Avenue, Park City). 

Saturday, August 2nd

Slutwalk: Join us for our 4th annual march and rally to end victim blaming and slut shaming. This year we will be holding a five hour festival event with entertainers, resources, activities, vendor booths and food along with our traditional rally and march.
This year START BY BELIEVING those who disclose their experiences of sexual violence and learn how to support them! This event is FREE and open to everyone. Bring your entire family and your friends.

BECAUSE SURVIVORS DESERVE OUR SUPPORT, NOT OUR SCRUTINY.

Details: From 12-5 p.m. starting at Washington Square (451 South State St).

Dash for Donation: Honor organ, eye and tissue donors and celebrate transplantation by participating in the Dash for Donation 5k dash/2k walk. Proceeds will go to support donation education efforts and to maintain Utah’s Celebration of Life Monument. Details: Register here. A Fine Line: Understanding Our Everyday Borders: UMOCA educators will use a variety of creative tools to shed light on borders, real and imagined, in everyday life. Little artists will discover the borders they have created in their lives, whether they are walls, painted lines, or barriers between school and home life, and express what these divisions mean to them through games, discussion, and creating their own assemblage art. Details: From 2-4 p.m. at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (20 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City).