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Kanab, UT businesses: 'we need gay money'

The tourism industry in the small southern Utah town of Kanab is roiling over the non-binding measure passed by the city council that declared marriage is between a man and woman “ordained of God” and that families should produce a “full quiver of children” (see my earlier post on this story).

Some wingnut organization, The Sutherland Institute, sent out this measure to towns all over the state. Only Kanab’s government chose to adopt it. And now they are faced with a gay boycott and the loss of the almighty gay dollar. Some businesses are rushing to put symbols of welcome to gay travelers, hoping to mitigate the short-sighted bigotry of its government. (

Signs began popping up in store windows this week in Kanab, Utah proclaiming ”Everyone welcome here!” in a desperate move to avoid a threatened gay boycott. Some businesses went so far as putting small rainbow flag stickers on their front doors.

…Tourism is Kanab’s biggest industry and business owners say they need gay money. “We’re a tourist destination with people coming here to sleep and eat, and we [business owners] have worked hard to have something to show,” pharmacist Kort Stirland told the Salt Lake Tribune.

His Zion Pharmacy has one of the welcome signs, which features a string of rainbow-colored human figures, in the window.

…The signs and stickers are being distributed by the Kanab Boosters, a business owners group. The Boosters are selling the signs and small stickers for cars for between $2.50 and $4.50. The group hopes to raise enough money to take out newspaper ads throughout the state to promote the town as a diverse place to vacation.

Ted Hallisey, the executive director of the county Travel Association says that his office has received hundreds of e-mails and letters from people threatening to scrap their travel plans over the council’s resolution. But, he said, it was too early to tell what the economic impact might be.

It doesn’t help the cause of Kanab business owners when they have members of the religious community like the Rev. Doug Hounshell, pastor of Cliffview Chapel Baptist Church bleating that he:

“thanks God for a community that doesn’t think it has to be ‘gay-friendly
.’ We don’t mean to be mean-spirited, but the message to a homosexual might be that this is probably not the friendliest town for that type of thing.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding