SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Spencer Cox issued a proclamation Wednesday, marking June as Pride Month and calling on Utahns to be more welcoming and accepting of the LGBTQ community.
"This should not be controversial," the governor told FOX 13 News in an interview about the proclamation. "There should be nothing controversial about supporting a group of people in our state who have historically felt marginalized."
Cox may be the only Republican governor in the nation to issue such a proclamation recently. He issued a similar one last year, the first Utah governor to officially acknowledge Pride Month. The governor vetoed a bill earlier this year the legislature passed, banning transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The legislature met in a special session to override him. On Tuesday night, a lawsuit was filed over the ban.
Asked about the message he wanted to send to LGBTQ people with the proclamation, Gov. Cox said: "We love you, we care about you, Utah is an awesome place... for everyone."
Tanya Hawkins, the co-CEO of the Utah Pride Center, was thrilled.
"Thank you, Gov. Cox! You are wonderful. That means so much," she said. "He’s been so supportive of our transgender kids, with our community."
Hawkins said she has observed attitudes toward LGBTQ people changing in Utah, and the governor's proclamation is a sign of that.
"It just speaks volumes. There’s that support. That’s what we need," she said. "Yes, Utah is finally starting to change and turn and be supportive."
On Wednesday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and members of the city council hosted a ceremony to raise the LGBTQ Pride flag at the Salt Lake City & County Building. She pointed to the strides that have been made, including Salt Lake City government itself earning top marks from the Human Rights Campaign for its LGBTQ-centered policies.
"We’re going to celebrate all month long, but help us celebrate this diversity 365 days a year," the mayor said.
This year's Utah Pride Festival kicks off this weekend. Security has been increased, including use of some concrete barricades around the festival grounds. Organizers told FOX 13 News it was done partly in response to mass shootings nationwide, but also because LGBTQ people have been targeted in hate crimes.
This will be the first year the Utah Pride Festival has returned fully in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Salt Lake City Council member Darin Mano said he was glad to see its return.
"I just want to have fun this year," he said. "I think we’ve been all cooped up in our homes for two years and I hope that everyone can come out, feel included and feel loved and just have fun," he said.
Read the governor's LGBTQ Pride Month proclamation here: