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More than 200 gay activists gathered outside Utah's capitol building in Salt Lake City to call for common ground with lawmakers. The activists, joined by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, said their intention is to peacefully share their personal stories with others.

"If people don't know who they're voting against ... they don't so much mind taking away our rights," said Black, who last year won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Milk. "I did not come to Salt Lake City to protest. I came here
to introduce myself and to share a message of love and respect."

Officials from Equality Utah said their efforts on Capitol Hill will be scaled back this year. Last year the group was unable to push a bill past legislative committee.

"We're going to focus on our municipal efforts," Equality Utah director Brandie Balken told the Deseret News. "The way we're able to change policy is by getting people on the ground to support those policies. In looking at what happened with our very common sense bills last year, we saw we needed to do more work on the ground."

Equality Utah was influential in getting Salt Lake City's nondiscrimination ordinances passed in November. The Mormon Church publicly supported the ordinances.

"They brought stakeholders to the table, and we want other municipalities to have a chance to do the same thing," Balken said.

Read the full story here.

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