Change of heart leads two new board members to Equality Utah

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Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – A new era of leadership is coming on board for a local organization that pushes for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

For the first time a sitting GOP lawmaker is joining the board of Equality Utah.

The organization is also welcoming a new director with one of Utah’s most prominent names.

Executive Director, Troy Williams says it’s a new day for the organization.

“We are so excited to have both Senator Urquhart, Republican lawmaker and James Huntsman of the Huntsman family stepping up to support the work of Equality Utah,” said Williams.

Both say they are passionate about the opportunity to further the cause, but getting to this point took a change of heart.

“If I’m honest with myself I would say as part of my upbringing I did marginalize that community,” said Huntsman.

“It took my daughter having a lot of LGBT friends, becoming an ally. She and her friends are the ones that convinced me that I needed to lend a helping hand,” said Senator, Steve Urquhart, (R) St. George.

Huntsman is moving back to Utah after 20 years.

He says he’s joining the board with a new perspective.

“As I realized that I had a friend and relatives in the LGBT community I felt like I had a responsibility,” said Huntsman.

Urquhart is finishing up his final term.

He sponsored the the historic nondiscrimination and religious freedom compromise signed into law in 2015.

He says joining the board is a continuation of his work as a lawmaker.

“More and more legislators will walk the road that I recently walked. And, since I understand that pathway I’m hoping I can be helpful to convince them to extend full civil rights to all Utahns,” said Urquhart.

Two new board members that may seem like unlikely allies, but Williams says they represent a bigger picture.

“More and more people in the Republican Party are stepping forward to support us. More and more active Latter-day Saints are stepping forward and saying how can we help,” said Urquhart.

Urquhart also sponsored the hate crimes bill that failed this year.

He says as a member of the board seeing that through is his top priority.

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