Each year during the Utah Pride Festival, three awards are presented to Utahns who have served and bettered Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally community. These awardees will be honored, along with 2015 Grand Marshal Janet Mock, at the Grand Marshal Reception on Friday, June 5, 2015. The event will be held on the Utah Pride Festival grounds on Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City. Awardees will also be honored during the Utah Pride Parade on Sunday, June 7.
Courtney is the head matron of the Matrons of Mayhem and, as Petunia, he and the rest of the Matrons have raised tens of thousands of dollars for various causes within and without the LGBT community. He is a monthly columnist for QSaltLake, a published author and is actively involved with the First Baptist Church, People With AIDS Coalition of Utah, the Salt Lake Men’s Choir, and much more.
His quiet dedication and service to the community exemplifies why the Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service award was established in 1987. This award was first presented to Dr. Kristen Ries for her humanitarian efforts in dealing with the AIDS crisis, and forever named in her honor. This award recognizes outstanding service to the greater Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community in Utah and is given to individuals who are dedicated to continuing that legacy of service. The recipient is chosen by past awardees.
Dabakis is a co-founder of both the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah, and continues to work closely with them to extend LGBTQ rights and direct services to community members. He has served as a talk-radio and TV host in Salt Lake City, taught business at a Russian university, provided micro-loans to a variety of emerging Russian entrepreneurs and started an art business. He and his husband Stephen Justesen were legally wed by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office on December 20, 2013, just hours after a federal judge ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.
The Pete Suazo Political Action Award was established in 2001 in honor of Senator Suazo’s tireless attempts to pass Hate Crimes legislation in Utah. This award is presented annually to an elected official who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to equal rights for the LGBTQ community of Utah through legislation, policy or declaration. A committee including leaders of Equality Utah, Stonewall Democrats, Log Cabin Republicans, Human Rights Campaign and the Utah Pride Center chooses the recipient.
Paul also helped Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson become the first Utah same-sex couple to marry, and then officiated the first lesbian wedding in the state of Utah on December 20, 2013. In his capacity as the chairman of the rules committee for the U.S. Soccer Federation, he helped shepherd through a nondiscrimination policy that protects more than 3 million soccer players from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2013, Paul led a team of attorneys, including former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, in ﬁling an amicus brief on behalf of the Pride Center in Windsor. Paul then traveled to Washington DC to attend arguments before the United States Supreme Court, where he gained national media attention for the Utah Pride Center’s efforts. Since then, Paul has authored numerous opinion articles in the Salt Lake Tribune advocating marriage equality and equal rights for LGBT Utahns. Through his unwavering dedication and service to our community, he has exhibited exceptional service, support and dedication to the LGBTQ community in Utah – characteristics of a Utah Hero.
Tickets for the Grand Marshal Reception are $50 and can be purchased from the Utah Pride Festival website. For more information about the Utah Pride Festival, visit utahpridefestival.org.
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