Held in SLC, Utah at the State Capitol

Speech given by Donna Kelly

“When I was young I looked forward to being a mother. I thought that children would bring me joy because they would be just like me. I was wrong.

Let me tell you a little about the religious diversity of the Kelly family. We have one daughter who is a Unitarian. We have one daughter who was a Mormon – and that church excommunicated her last summer because she asked for equal opportunities for women, she asked for women to be ordained. Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but she was excommunicated from her church for wanting to do more for her church. We have one daughter who is an active Mormon. We have a son who is an agnostic. And our youngest son recently resigned from the Mormon church.

When he was 3 years old, his dad was reading him a story one night about a prince and a princess who married and lived happily ever after. He said to my husband “I want to be in love with boys.”
Our journey as a family diverse in beliefs has been difficult at times, painful at times, but also surprisingly joyful. How is it that we have found joy amongst such differences?The answer is simple: love. We chose love. We chose real and unconditional love.

Has this been an easy path? No. But choosing this road which is sadly too often less traveled has made all the difference. My family is not a counterfeit family. Your families are not counterfeit families. My family is forever!

There are organizations among us which proclaim unconditional love with their words, but with their actions they shun, they punish, they exclude and they reject. My mother taught me that actions speak louder than words. She was right. That is not real love.

Actions of hate and shunning and rejection not only harm the shunned, the rejected – they harm the person who is acting on hate and rejection. The person that engages in this behavior becomes smaller, pettier, less loving, less kind, less charitable. Hateful actions hurt everyone.

There are organizations which proclaim with their words to support “family values.” Yet their actions are not “family values.” Shunning is not a family value. Rejection is not a family value. Disavowal is not a family value. Hate is not a family value.

It is our duty as good and decent people is to reject such hypocrisy, wherever it is found – in businesses, in churches, in political parties, in governments. Jesus Christ once rejected this type of hypocrisy – he said “They draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” Their actions are also far from Him.

This type of hatefulness damages our state in very real ways. Utah has the highest rate of any state for suicide of young men. It has rates higher than the national average for sexual assault and domestic violence. It is consistently found to be one of the worst states for women by many different measures. And most recently, Utah distinguished itself as one of the worst states for child physical and sexual abuse.

What can we do to make things better? We can stand up. We can speak out. We can practice love and acceptance in all our actions.

This is an appropriate location for this gathering today – from the steps of the capitol on which you are sitting you can see the area where Brigham Young stood and declared “This is the Place.” Today we make our own declarations – This is the Place where everyone will be loved and accepted. This is the Place where we will help every person to become their very best self. This is the Place where we will reject shunning and punishing people. This is the Place where people of all walks of life can thrive and find joy. This is the Place where unconditional love will be practiced and not just preached.

This is the Place where we choose love.”