Fundraiser Held for National Gay-Rights Organization

Fundraiser Held for National Gay-Rights Organization

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OREM, Utah (AP) -- A fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights organization, drew 620 guests and a number of protesters to the Orem home of WordPerfect co-founder Bruce Bastian.

They guests paid $150 to attend Saturday's event.

The demonstrators carried signs such as "See no evil, hear no evil, read no evil" and "STOP Same Sex Marriage."

"Walking by the hecklers, then seeing how wonderful everything is, I thought, 'You guys are missing out,"' said Millie Watts, who with her husband Gary Watts, received the HRC Equality Award for their advocacy in Family Fellowship, a Provo-based organization that focuses on strengthening relationships and educating families with homosexual members.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, state Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, and state Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, received standing ovations when they were announced. They were among about a dozen Utah politicians who purchased seats for the event.

Tipper Gore, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, was the keynote speaker.

Family, however defined, must be the nation's highest priority, she said.

"No one should ever judge, stigmatize or fear someone because of the love they feel for another, whether the same or opposite sex," she said.

Allowing same-sex marriage does not threaten traditional marriage, she said.

"I do not find it surprising that Massachusetts continues to have one of the lowest divorce rates in the country while Texas has one of the highest," she said to exuberant cheers. "Vermont has had five years of civil unions and still the sun comes up every morning and Vermont families stay intact. Isn't it clear that we are growing and strengthening families by including everyone?"

In addition to Gary and Millie Watts, two others were given Human Rights Campaign Equality awards.

Salt Lake City-based attorney Laura Milliken Gray was honored for being the first attorney in Utah to find a way to allow same-sex Utah couples to legally adopt children after legislation banning such adoptions.

The Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, was honored for bolstering same-sex individuals and families in Utah, and her support of the ordination of the nation's first openly gay Episcopal bishop.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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