Historical Events Surrounding the Founding of Affirmation:
Gay Mormons United
Compiled by Connell O'Donovan
I have figured out the exact date that Affirmation was formally organized.
According to the November
2, 1977 Advocate article, Affirmation was organized during
the Human Rights Convention held in Salt Lake earlier that year. I have
many articles in my archives on this important convention that was held
in 1977, and it occurred during the days of June 10-12. However according
to the reports, the first day was mostly taken up by press conferences
and introductory remarks. All formal business transactions occurred
on Saturday June 11. On Sunday June 12, a kegger was held in Mill Creek
Canyon, and it was just a casual, party day, during which no business
was transacted. Therefore Affirmation: Gay Mormons United was certainly
formally organized on Saturday, June 11, 1977.
No Dance at Rotunda
Deseret News, April 23, 1977, p. B-3
Friday night, members of the Metropolitan Community Church, 870 W. 4th
South, wanted to be in the State Capitol rotunda dancing.
But they weren't.
The group was denied permission to hold the dance by Lt. Gov. David
S. Monson because he was afraid that since the church admits homosexuals
there could be trouble from onlookers. The church filed suit in Third
District Court to force Monson to allow the dance.
This week, Third District Court Judge Dean Conder wrote a minute entry
saying permission was discretionary with Monson and he wouldn't force
him to allow the dance.
Because the state won the case, Michael L. Deamer, deputy Utah attorney
general, will write an order for the judge to sign that follows the
Gays Will Sponsor Rights Convention
Utah Daily Chronicle, June 3, 1977
The Salt Lake City gay community will sponsor a three-day human rights
convention in Salt Lake June 10-12. Featured will be Sgt. Leonard Matlovich,
who appeared on the cover on [sic] Time Magazine in the Sept.
8, 1975 issue entitled "I am a homosexual."
Matlovich, a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has received four
medals of honor including the purple hear and will speak at 8 p.m. June
11 in the Hotel Utah. The controversial gay rights advocate is expected
to discuss the oppression of homosexuals in America.
The convention will also include a Grand Ball at 8 p.m. June 10, a reception
at 10 p.m. June 11, a Kegger in Mill Creek Canyon at 1 p.m. June 12
and an all day schedule of symposiums on June 11. The symposiums will
include parents of gays discussing their attitudes towards their children,
Salt Lake City Police Dept. Vice Squad officers discussing the legal
treatment of gays and a former LDS church Stake President, Rev. [James Earl] Sandmire,
discussing the religious implications of homosexuality.
Most of the scheduled events cost money. More information can be obtained
by calling 533-0927, the gay helpline.
Convention for gays canceled by Hotel Utah
Deseret News, June 9, 1977, p. B-3
A convention of the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights scheduled in
Hotel Utah this week was canceled by the hotel Wednesday after officials
learned of the group's homosexual nature.
Ken Kline, an organizer of the two-day convention, said the gathering
will be held as scheduled, "even if it's in the street."
A number of acknowledged homosexuals were scheduled as speakers, including
such nationally-known figures as former Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich
and ex-professional football player Dave Kopay.
Hotel officials said they were unaware of the nature of the convention
when it was first booked for Friday and Saturday, but they quickly canceled
out when they learned a few days ago it was sponsored for homosexuals.
Bishop Victor L. Brown of the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, who also serves as president of the Hotel
Utah Co., wrote a letter to Kline saying the booking had been dropped
by the board of directors.
"When you made arrangements for booking space at the hotel, no mention
was made as to the nature of your organization nor the cause it seeks
to advance," he wrote.
"According to the organization's advertising of the convention, those
attending will be encouraged to follow homosexual practices contrary
to the laws of the state of Utah and prevailing standards of public
morals and decency," Bishop Brown wrote.
"After conferring upon this matter, the board of directors decided that
the reservations should be canceled," he said.
S.L. Hotel Cancels ‘Rights’ Convention Sponsored by Gays
Ogden Standard Examiner, June 9, 1977
by Roger Bennett
Salt Lake City (UPI)
A hotel owned by the Mormon Church Wednesday canceled reservations for
a "Human Rights Convention" featuring homosexuals, former Air Force
Sgt. Leonard Matlovich and former professional football player Dave
Ken Klein, organizer of the conference sponsored by the Metropolitan
Community Church, said Hotel Utah canceled the use of its Roayl Ballroom
and other facilities for the the Friday and Saturday event.
Mr. Klein said the gays may take the hotel to court, according to the
The Hotel Utah is located next to the world headquarters of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and across the street from the
Salt Lake Mormon Temple.
Klein said cancellation notice came in a letter signed by hotel president
Victor L. Brown, who is also presiding bishop of the church in charge
of its business affairs.
Rooms booked for out-of-town participants in the convention were not
Hotel manager Stuart Cross said the decision was made by the hotel's
board of directors after it discovered the convention was sponsored
The Mormon Church has taken a strong stand against homosexuality. At
a 1974 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball, said, "Every
form of homosexuality is sin. There is no half way. Certainly men and
women who would change their sex status will answer to their Maker."
Metropolitan Church member Bob Waldrop, describing his group as "part
of the gay community in Salt Lake City," said contracts had been signed
with the Hotel Utah and that no attempt had been made to disguise the
naturee of the event or the participants.
"We told them there would be same sex dancing at the dance and they
said, "fine,'" said Waldrop.
But Cross said that was not true. He said the letter of agreement was
signed without knowledge by the hotel personnel as to the type of event
they were booking.
In addition to the dance, the agenda included workshops on various aspects
of homosexuality, in the military, athletics and other areas.
Matlovich, who raised a furor in the Air Force when he announced he
was gay and was pictured on the cover of Time Magazine, was to deliver
the keynote speech.
Kopay, a former professional football player who "came out of the closet"
to write a book on homosexuality in athletics, was also a scheduled
participant in the workshops.
Meanwhile homosexual groups have petitioned Gov. Scott Matheson to form
a gubernatorial commission to study "the problems of gay rights in Utah."
But a spokesman for the governor said it was "doubtful Matheson would
form such a commission or even meet with the petitioners.
"We believe that the rights of people should not be compromised because
of sexuality and that the constitution was established to protect all
people including minorities," the letter said.
It is highly doubtful that the governor would call such a commission,"
said Mike Youngren, Matheson's press secretary. He added that the governor
had declined to meet the group.
Hotel Utah Cancels Homosexual Parley
Salt Lake Tribune, June 9, 1977 p. A 13
The Hotel Utah Wednesday canceled reservations for a "Human Rights Convention"
at the hotel which was to have featured acknowledged homosexuals former
Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich and ex-professional football player
Ken Kline, organizer of the the conference sponsored by the Salt Lake
Coalition for Human Rights, said the hotel canceled the use of the Royal
Ballroom and other facilities. The convention was to have been at the
hotel Friday and Saturday.
Mr. Kline said late Wednesday that his group was still negotiating with
the hotel for use of its facilities, but a spokesman for the hotel repeated
that the group's reservations remain canceled.
Mr. Kline said the cancellation notice came in the form of a letter
signed by hotel president Victor L. Brown, who is also presiding bishop
of the LDS church in charge of its business dealings.
Stuart Cross, hotel manager, said the decision was made by the hotel's
board of directors after it was discovered that the convention was being
sponsored by homosexuals.
Bob Waldrop, a member of the Metropolitan Community Church, 870 W. 400
South, said his church, comprised of homosexual members, is also supporting
Mr. Kline said that the convention will go on, "even if it's in the
streets." He said that a press conference will be held Thursday at 3
p.m. at the United Airlines Terminal at the Salt Lake International
Airport to discuss the convention and the issue of homosexual rights.
Mr. Waldrop said that contracts had been signed with the hotel, and
that no attempt was made to disguise the nature of the event nor its
"We told them there would be 'same sex' dancing at the dance and they
said, 'fine,' Mr. Waldrop said.
Local 'Gays' Ask for Utah Study
Salt Lake Tribune, June 9, 1977, p. B-4
Representatives of what they termed the "gay Christian community" in
Salt Lake City have asked Gov. Scott M. Matheson to appoint a "broadly
based" commission to study the problem of gay rights in Utah.
The request was issued in response to the defeat Tuesday of a Dade County,
Fla., referendum that would have made it illegal to discriminate against
"The Constitution was established to protect people, including minorities,"
the leaders said in a prepared statement.
Speaker Arrives For Gay Confab
Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 1977, p. B-6
Leonard Matlovich, former Air Force sergeant and winner of the bronze
star and purple heart, and self-admitted homosexual, arrived Thursday
in Salt Lake City to deliver a keynote address at a gay-oriented "Human
Rights Convention" Friday and Saturday.
The convention, organized by the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights,
was originally scheduled in the Hotel Utah. But the hotel's board of
directors canceled the group's reservations for some of the hotel's
facilities when they discovered the meetings would have homosexual participants.
Speaking at a press conference at Salt Lake City International Airport,
Mr. Matlovich, an ex-Mormon, said he was in town "to continue the battle
at Dade County...and we shall overcome in the end."
Antihomosexual advocate and singer Anita Bryant led a successful movement
in Dace County, Fla., to overturn a gay rights law in a special referendum
election Tuesday. Mr. Matlovich was also in Florida lobbying against
repeal of the law.
Cheered by a group of about 30, some wearing Matlovich T-shirts, Mr.
Matlovich said, "No longer will we (gays) be your slaves of silence.
We will be free Americans just like everyone else." He added that the
convention was being held for homosexuals to talk about their problems,
educate the public on gay issues and lobby for legislation in Congress.
A.F. 12 Years
The former serviceman was in the Air Force for 12 years and won the
Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam.
"I went to Vietnam to fight for democracy, yet we still don't have it
in our own country," he remarked.
Mr. Matlovich, 33, said he joined the Mormon Church in 1969 while serving
in Vietnam, but left the church by his own accord in 1972. He said
the church formally excommunicated him when he announced his homosexuality
and tried unsuccessfully to remain in the military.
Shirley Pedler, director of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union, issued a statement Thursday condemning the hotel's action in
canceling the group's convention facilities reservations.
"The convention is being held for purposes of discussion and association
only," the statement read, "and the refusal of the Hotel Utah to make
good its commitment to provide facilities violates the spirit of the
U.S. Constitution, if not the letter of the law."
Gays Get Place to Meet
Deseret News, June 10, 1977, B-5
Salt Lake gay activists group found a place for its weekend convention, with keynote speaker Leonard Matlovich, vowing the meeting will be a continuation of "the battle of DADE [sic] county".
Hotel Utah, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wednesday canceled reservations made by the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights there, so the organizers searched elsewhere for convention space.
Thursday night, the group announced the meeting was to begin this afternoon in the Dunes Hotel, formerly the Royal Inn, 206 S. West Temple.
Ken Kline, meeting chairman, said the group made arrangements to move the sessions to Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge, 122 W. South Temple, as an alternative to Hotel Utah, "but when we went to check in, they said they were all booked up."
Before relocating at the International Dunes, the organizers also checked with several other local hotels and motels, he said. "A lot told us they didn't have room, and some wouldn't talk with us," Kline said.
Matlovich, 33, arrived at the Salt Lake International Airport Thursday and was greeted by about 30 persons. He gained national notoriety in a fight with the Air Force to stay in the military after announcing his homosexuality.
The Utah Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday that it may sue Hotel Utah for canceling the agreement with the coalition to provide convention quarters after learning of the "homosexual nature" of the organization.
Convention organizers went to Third District Court seeking a restraining order against the hotel but Judge Dean Conder would not issue the order on technical grounds, although noting there may be grounds for a case against the breach of contract.
"We are here to continue the battle of Dade County, Matlovich said, "and we shall overcome."
Meanwhile, Shirley Pedler, ACLU executive director, protested the action of the LDS Church-owned Hotel Utah in canceling convention reservations.
"Though it remains to be determined whether or not Hotel Utah is in violation of the law and whether or not a suit can be brought, their (the hotel's) decision was needlessly discriminatory in intent and effort," she said.
In canceling the coalition's reservations, Bishop Victor L. Brown of the Presiding Bishopric of the church and president of Hotel Utah wrote, "When you (the coalition) made arrangements for booking space at the hotel, no mention was made as to the nature of your organization nor the cause it seeks to advocate".
Homosexuals Open Symposium: 3-Day S.L. Meet
Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1977, p. B-13
A panel of homosexual leaders, both national and local, opened a three-day
symposium Friday by calling for equal rights under the law as afforded
"any minority in this country."
"We're not asking you to like us, or agree with what we do, just allow
us to be citizens," Rev. James Sandmire of the Los Angeles Metropolitan
Community Church said.
Rev. Sandmire, a national leader of the gay movement, fielded questions
from the press at a news conference in the International Dunes Hotel,
formerly the Royal Inn, 206 S. West Temple.
Leonard Matlovich, former Air Force sergeant who was kicked out of military
service because of his admitted homosexuality, and Ken Kline, chairman,
Salt Lake Coalition of Human Rights, also presented viewpoints.
The conference, originally scheduled for the Hotel Utah, was shifted
to the International Dunes Friday when "every other hotel turned us
down," Mr. Kline said.
The press meeting itself was under a tight security cloak to keep out
"undesireable" elements, according to an unnamed spokesman.
When asked who the undesireables were, he said, "a lot of people from
the LDS Church would be present" at the gay conference and wished to
"keep their anonymity."
A few of those at the opening ceremony, however, wore "Gay and Proud"
Rev. Sandmire said the purpose of meeting en mass was to escape the
"closet" syndrome that gays have been forced to live under.
The movement, burgeoning in the tradition of all civil rights activities,
will be marked, however, by "non-violent" actions, Rev. Sandmire said.
"Violence is something gay people live with all the time. It is something
directed at us, not from us," he said.
Mr. Matlovich added that the gays will still "demand our rights, but
in a non-violent way."
The gay campaign will be centered around the ability of homosexuals
to "acknowledge who they are" without fear of reprisal or discrimination,
according to leaeders.
There are about 20 million gays in the country, with a "conservative
estimate" of about 70,000 along the Wasatch Front, Mr. Kline said.
The conference itself is expected to draw about 300 to 500 people to
its various functions.
Gays Open S.L. Convention
Deseret News, June 11, 1977, p. A-4
The gay community is involved in the beginning of a long struggle which will continue until all humans receive their constitutional rights, a group of admitted homosexuals said Friday afternoon.
A press conference opened the weekend Salt Lake Convention for Human Rights at the International Dunes Hotel, 206 S. West Temple.
Former Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who gained notoriety when he "came out of the closet" and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine; the Reverend James Sandmire of the Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles; Bob Waldrop, a coordinator of the church's Salt Lake congregation, and Ken Kline, chairman of the Salt Lake Coalition for Human Rights, talked with reporters in an upstairs hotel room.
Matlovich spoke Friday night in the Salt Lake City Commission Chambers. Salt Lake City Mayor Ted L. Wilson said the city has no legal position on which to deny the group the right to meet in the commission chambers as long as there is no violation of the law.
"How can I turn down this group when we let every other group come in that wants to," he said. "It's a public hall open to public use. The subject might be sensitive but as I see it there's no violation of any law," the mayor said. The group requested use of the chambers "to freely discuss things as people are allowed to do under the Constitution of the United States."
Kline said seven court cases are filed or are being prepared for filing Monday in connection with the group's failure to obtain convention space sought in other hotels before being accepted at the Dunes.
Bradley [no other identification of this person is given - apparently someone representing the Dunes Hotel?] said if there are 200 to 500 of the group in town as claimed by one TV station, then they're not at the International Dunes but are being housed in other hotels in town. (Matlovich said 300 to 600 were expected, including some from Hawaii.)
"There could be more here, but if they are I don't know about it," Bradley said. He said those at the hotel hadn't caused problems of which he was aware.
Speakers at the press conference were critical of those who deny homosexuals their rights.
Rev. Sandmire said the Metropolitan Community Church has a special ministry to gay people.
He said it is to show them that the love of Christ extends to all people, and it is the "quality of their lives, not their sexuality that matters."
And less than three weeks later...
Opposes Marriages of Gays
Deseret News, June 29, 1977, p. A-7
Homosexual marriages in the state of Utah
are illegal, the Utah House decided today while correcting the state's
void and prohibited marriage law.
As the House corrected the bill which
dealt with marriages, it inserted an amendment proposed by a committee
which makes it illegal for persons of the same sex to marry.
of homosexual marriages was not even discussed on the floor of the House
as legislators centered their discussion on the correction of age limits
The bill, HB3, by Rep. Georgia Peterson, R-Salt Lake,
would have prohibited the marriage of persons under 16 unless the girl
involved presented certification of pregnancy.
That pregnancy clause
was taken out after Rep. Dale Stratford, R-Ogden, argued that such a
provision branded young women with a large "A."
The certification clause
was removed by a vote of 42 to 22. The entire bill then passed, including
the homosexual marriage prohibition, by a vote of 71 to 3.