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Social conservatives, LGBTQ rights group condemn vandalism at Utah lawmaker's home

Posted at 3:55 PM, Apr 21, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Social conservatives and LGBTQ rights activists condemned vandalism at the home of a state senator who sponsored a bill restricting transgender youth health care.

The vandalism happened at the home of Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine. Someone spray painted messages apparently aimed at his sponsorship of the controversial Senate Bill 16, which was signed into law earlier this year. That bill placed a ban on gender-affirming surgeries and a moratorium on hormone therapies for transgender youth. The ACLU of Utah has threatened a lawsuit over the new law.

"To those who seek to use violence, vandalism, and intimidation to deter me from standing up for what is right, let me be clear: you will not succeed. I will not be deterred by your cowardly actions. The recent vandalism to my family's home was not just an attack on me, but on the very principles our state stands for. We will not let fear and violence control our destiny," Sen. Kennedy said in a statement Friday to FOX 13 News. "As Utahns, we will always stand up and push back against radicals who seek to push their agenda in our state. I am more determined than ever to work with the good people of Utah to make our state a better place for all, especially our children, and I won't back down."

The vandalism was also condemned by Equality Utah, which said in a statement it harms efforts to build bridges on Utah's Capitol Hill between the LGBTQ community and the Republican supermajority in the legislature.

"As LGBTQ Americans, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of violence. We know what it is like to fear for our own safety. It is never acceptable to replicate the violent or threatening tactics we have had to endure and target those with whom we have disagreements," Equality Utah said. "These heinous acts do not help LGBTQ Utahns. They do not advance a climate of equality. In fact, they harm our efforts to build bridges and create deeper understanding with our fellow Utahns."

Equality Utah's statement said it understands many in the LGBTQ community are frightened by the volume of bills being introduced across the United States targeting them, but the group said it has been able to make progress in a conservative state like Utah.

"We don’t know the ideology of those who vandalized Sen. Kennedy’s house. But we have repeatedly asked conservatives to call out extremists on their side, who verbally harass our community and attack our liberties with harmful legislation. In return, we now call out and condemn extremists who may identify with our side, who deploy tactics to intimidate and frighten political opponents," the group said. "The culture wars are now escalating into real-world violence, and we all have an obligation to take a stand and condemn extremism wherever it manifests -- be it acts of vandalism, or political acts of violence."

Likewise, the Utah Eagle Forum condemned the vandalism.

"We would like to express our gratitude to State Senator Mike Kennedy for his unwavering commitment to protecting our children. Despite facing threats to his own safety and that of his family, Senator Kennedy has stood courageously to defend the children of Utah. The recent vandalism to Senator Kennedy's home is not only a threat of physical harm, but also attacks the fundamental values that we hold dear as a community," the group said. "We condemn this cowardly action in the strongest possible terms and pledge to stand together in support of those who work tirelessly to safeguard our children and uphold our shared values."

The Utah Eagle Forum said in its statement it would "not be intimidated or silenced by those who seek to undermine our efforts to protect our children and preserve our way of life."

"We will continue to stand firm in our commitment to defend our values and ensure a brighter future for generations to come.Thank you, Sen. Kennedy, for your leadership and bravery in the face of adversity. We stand with you in this fight to protect our children and together, we will prevail."