Jun 2, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Utah governor removes LGBTQ+ references from Pride Month declaration

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a National Governors Association event in February in Washington, D.C.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a National Governors Association event in February in Washington, D.C. Photo: Elizabeth Frantz/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Utah. Gov. Spencer Cox came under fire Thursday after his 2023 Pride Month declaration eliminated all mention of LGBTQ+ people.

  • Meanwhile, conservatives lambasted Cox as "woke" for making the declaration in the first place.

Driving the news: The omission quickly gained notice as Cox posted the proclamation on social media, calling for "inclusion, belonging and kindness" and praising "numerous organizations" for "cultivating love for all."

Flashback: Cox's 2022 and 2021 proclamations referred to LGBTQ+ Utahns multiple times.

Details: This year's declaration also removes an acknowledgment that appeared in previous versions, that "members of the LGBTQ+ community who do not feel loved and accepted experience higher rates of mental health challenges."

  • It also eliminates a call "to be more inclusive and accepting of the LGBTQ+ members of our community."

What they're saying: "Not including the letters and words that identify the Pride Community — LGBTQIA+ — is an irresponsible … act of erasure," the Utah Pride Center tweeted. "We believe Gov. Cox can do better."

The other side: Conservatives accused Cox of pandering to the left by celebrating "sin," called him a RINO and urged a primary challenge from the right.

Axios reached out to Cox's office for comment but did not receive a reply.

Context: Cox has made a sharp right turn on LGBTQ+ policy this year, signing the year's first statewide ban on gender-affirming health care for trans minors one day after the Utah Legislature passed it.

  • A year earlier, Cox won widespread attention and praise from LGBTQ+ advocates when he vetoed a ban on trans athletes in school sports.
  • In 2016, he was heralded in national media as a compassionate conservative after he wept on stage at a rally following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Catch up quick: Cox was the only Republican governor to proclaim a statewide Pride Month when he made his first declaration in 2021, the Chicago LGBTQ+ publication GoPride reported.

What's next: Cox is up for re-election in 2024.

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