Photograph by D'Arcy Benincosa
"It was a surreal feeling when I first saw the news on social media,” recalls Spencer Reeser-Stout, who along with his husband Dustin (both are pictured above), appears in this issue. “My jaw dropped, I sat back in my chair, and I just cried. For the first time, I felt validated and experienced a feeling of immediate solidarity with all of the LGBT community in Utah. At that moment, something had changed—and it has been felt here since.”
On December 20, 2013, the Reeser-Stouts’ dreams, along with thousands of Utah gay and lesbian couples, became reality when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, deeming it unconstitutional. The surprise ruling quickly became national news and represented a major win for marriage equality both here and across the country.
The ruling was especially meaningful and monumental for those of us who’ve long supported same-sex marriage in ultra conservative Utah. Despite Salt Lake City boasting a large LGBT population and being voted the “gayest city in the U.S.” by Advocate.com in 2012, the fight for marriage equality in our crimson-red state was slanted steeply toward tradition. Until now, that is. Shelby’s ruling was cause for celebration.
In the 17 days that followed, more than 1,300 gay and lesbian couples were married in Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on the ruling. When this issue went to press, the validity of those marriages and the future of gay marriage in Utah remained in legal limbo. I have high hopes, though, that in the end, love will conquer all.
This issue features Spencer and Dustin’s story as well as the love stories of other local couples in our Real Weddings section. We also spotlight modern wedding-day fashion, gorgeous flowers paired with paper goods, art-inspired reception décor, and beer and food pairings from Salt Lake and Park City brewmasters, chefs, and caterers. Craft beer is big in the Beehive State, and we’re drinking it up.
Gay marriage and a booming beer industry in Utah? Who would have guessed? Turns out Brigham Young was right: This is the place.
Tessa R. Woolf