The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 30, 2013

Gay in Utah: Hostility, acceptance part of life

(Continued)

The struggle in Utah is the same everywhere, Eyre said.

"Just being gay or lesbian and not having support or being afraid your family is going to kick you out or will not speak to you — Catholics and Baptists can be the same way in other states," she said.

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Jon Jensen has been with his partner more than six years, but it wasn't until last week that the couple finally was able to become husband and husband.

It was a huge moment in their lives, but also, Jensen thinks, a reflection on changing attitudes in the state and more specifically, a backlash against the Mormon church over decades of repression.

Jensen and his husband, Jared Reesor, are more fortunate than others around Utah given they live in Salt Lake City, the state's liberal hub, despite the presence of the church's gleaming headquarters in the middle of downtown.

In fact, Jensen said, the church has had such a polarizing effect on Salt Lake City's younger population that he thinks people in the capital are more open to gay people.

"It makes people stand up more for what they believe in," he said.

With clubs and bars, coffee houses and tattoo parlors, Salt Lake City has become a bustling center for the younger, hipper crowd that doesn't live up to Utah's generally buttoned-up, clean-cut image. That's why Jensen and Reesor, 36, a residential contractor, have chosen to live here after being raised Mormon in surrounding counties where acceptance wasn't so easy to come by.

"People don't even question that you're a gay couple. In Utah County, we'd have to explain who we are," said the 35-year-old software developer. "People here, they don't even care. They don't even bat an eye when you introduce your husband or partner."

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