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Gay Man Elected Utah Democratic Party Chair

Gay Man Elected Utah Democratic Party Chair

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Democrats in Utah elected Jim Dabakis as state party chairman Saturday, making him the first openly gay person to hold the position.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund reports on the win for Dabakis, a founder of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center. An art dealer, he defeated candidate Robert Comstock by a wide margin of 528 to 71.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Dabakis said his priority would be to win races for Democrats across Utah. He also said he wanted to let Republicans, independents and Latter-day Saints know they are welcome in the Democratic Party.

"I want to talk to LDS people and I want to tell them that we want them in our party, we need them in our party," said Dabakis, the Tribune reported. "We recognize that they have a great deal to contribute. ... As chair, my commitment is to make sure that LDS people feel comfortable in our Democrat tent. Sometimes, we haven't been as warm and as inviting as we should be."

Democrats also narrowly selected Brian Doughty, who is gay, to fill the state house seat vacated by representative Jackie Biskupski, the first openly gay lawmaker in the state, who resigned after she purchased a house outside the Salt Lake City district. His win means that there continues to be at least one LGBT representative in the state legislature.

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