The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 30, 2013

Gay in Utah: Hostility, acceptance part of life

(Continued)

A Mormon church leader once told Eyre, "'I would rather see you dead than commit this sin,'" Eyre said in what she described as one of her most painful experiences of being gay in Utah.

Provo is in Utah County and home to Brigham Young University, the flagship school for the Mormon faith where students are prohibited from having premarital sex and drinking alcoholic beverages. The county is overwhelmingly Republican; President Barack Obama received less than 10 percent of the vote there in 2012.

The couple was initially turned down for a marriage license by Utah County, which only reluctantly started granting them days after a federal judge struck down the state's ban. The couple got a license Thursday.

Haws and Eyre are licensed clinical social workers with a private counseling practice in Utah County. A few patients abandoned them after their effort to get a marriage license made their relationship widely known.

"I've never been un-friended by so many people on Facebook," Eyre said.

Eyre said she moved from more gay-friendly Salt Lake City to Provo eight years ago to live with Haws, a mother of seven children from a previous marriage who wanted to stay close to her family. Haws was still caring for two of the children, who are now off to college.

When Haws' oldest son died in a car accident in 2006, Eyre found her name disappeared from a published obituary as the mother's partner.

But Eyre said the couple has a circle of supporters, including traditional couples who have been "good, kind and generous — people who have protected us." Some of her neighbors help out mowing their lawn or shoveling snow.

"We're not trying to judge others who judge us," Eyre said. "The folks who said they'd rather see us dead — in their mind that was all the love they could muster."

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