Thank you, Jon Huntsman Jr., for showing a little compassion in a generally hateful political environment. Huntsman and his wife, MaryKaye, spoke at an Equality Utah fundraiser recently in favor of civil unions for gays and lesbians. He compared this battle for equality to the nation’s civil-rights struggles. The 1864 Emancipation Proclamation was just the first step toward voting rights for blacks 100 years later. Huntsman didn’t mention miscegenation laws that banned interracial marriage. They stayed on the books in many states until they were declared unconstitutional in 1967. Our nation has a history drenched in discrimination. And the fight for equality never ends, as new groups become targets of choice.
For an immigrant nation, the United States is nothing if not ambivalent. Such an uproar over whether Barack Obama is eligible to be president! Many in Utah still believe he was born in Kenya. Second congressional candidate Mia Love underlines the fact she was born in the United States, although the status of her immigrant parents remains fuzzy. Then, we have presidential nominee Mitt Romney joking that he’d be better off if he were Latino. But wait. There was another public outcry over his father, George, who did happen to be born in Mexico. Questions about his eligibility centered around the constitutional phrase “natural-born citizen,” and while Democrats did question his right to run for president, they never brought it to the height of furor that surrounded Obama.
Salt Lake County is planning to print ballots in Spanish for the November election, but whether they will be used is a question. While Latinos account for 17 percent of the county population, only a small percentage of those actually vote. The Pew Hispanic Center notes that while Utah’s population in 2010 was 12 percent Hispanic, only 6 percent of eligible voters were Latino. Meanwhile, county clerks have been busy purging voter rolls to the tune of 70,000 voters, which, according to UtahPolicy.com, will (ironically) hurt Republicans in the state. Still, it’s just business as usual, since the purge is normal cleansing of dead and relocated voters. Republicans have said that voter fraud is rife in the nation, but few instances have been proven. If would-be voters are denied a ballot or have been purged, they can still vote provisionally.