David Nelson (Utah activist)


David Nelson (Utah activist)
David Nelson
Unaffiliated candidate for
Salt Lake City Council
from the 3rd District
Election date
October 8, 1985
Opponent(s) Evan L. Baker
Arthur W. Brothers
Sydney Reed Fonnesbeck
Incumbent Sydney Reed Fonnesbeck
Personal details
Born April 7, 1962 (1962-04-07) (age 49)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Nationality American
Political party Unaffiliated
Other political
affiliations
Libertarian Democrat
Residence Millcreek, Utah, United States
Alma mater University of Utah
Occupation Retired
Profession Marketing and public relations
Committees Hate Crimes Working Group for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah (1997-2001)

David Nelson is an American activist for the protection of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. He founded or helped found several LGBT-related non-profit organizations in Utah and helped direct others. His work with the Democratic Party encouraged many LGBT citizens to serve as party leaders. His work as a legislative lobbyist accomplished the adoption of several state and local laws, and the defeat of other legislation.

Contents

Personal

David Keith Nelson was born on April 7, 1962 in Salt Lake City as a member of the political Cannon family.[1][2] He studied political science at the University of Utah from 1982 to 1984.[3] He retired in 2001 from his professional career in marketing and public relations,[4] and lives with disabilities in Millcreek, Utah.[5][6]

Political

Nelson has been active in politics since 1982. Though he was most active during the 1990s in Utah, his work included helping to direct political groups in California and the District of Columbia.[7] His work earned the attention of governmental and political leaders, and news reporters.

Deseret Morning News political journalist Frank Pignanelli wrote in 2006 that Nelson was a "political pioneer" and "one of the few Utah voices demanding basic rights for gay and lesbian citizens. Aggressive in promoting antidiscrimination measures, he assisted in passage of the first hate-crimes legislation. Although Nelson frequently generated disagreement among supporters (including me), no one can dispute the courage he exhibited in the early years of this movement."[8]

Salt Lake City Weekly staff writer Eric S. Peterson wrote in 2009 that Nelson was "a pioneer of queer politics in the state who has carved a niche for himself in Utah politics for being a fierce advocate of his community since the early '80s while also fighting for the rights of gun owners."[3]

Non-partisan work

As a gay activist since 1983,[3] Nelson...

Partisan work

As a libertarian Democrat since 1980,[3][29][36] Nelson...

  • Lobbied unsuccessfully in 1986 for the inclusion of LGBT speakers by Democratic National Committee Policy Commission Co-Chairman and former Utah Gov. Scott M. Matheson Sr. at the commission meeting in Salt Lake City.[113][114][115]
  • Founded Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats in 1989 to affiliate with the Utah Democratic Party—the first such group in the state. The group combined the work of a party caucus, a fund-raising PAC and a lobbying group. The group became one of the largest caucuses in the party.[3][27][116][117][118] The group stopped its fund-raising and lobbying work in 1997, but remained a party caucus.[119] Nelson retired in 2001 from the group leadership. The group was renamed in 2002 as Utah Stonewall Democrats.
  • Campaigned unsuccessfully in 1993 as an openly gay candidate for election to serve as the secretary of the Utah Democratic Party—the first such campaign of a major party in the state.[120][121][122]
  • Lobbied successfully in 1993 for the appointment of openly gay Utahns to serve as members of the Utah Democratic Party standing committees—the first such appointments by a major party in the state. Nelson served from 1993 to 1997 as the chairman of the party Membership and Credentials Standing Committee, and as a member of the party Platform and Policy Standing Committee.[123][124]
  • Lobbied unsuccessfully in 1995 for the adoption of a Utah Democratic Party censure of Utah House of Representatives Democratic Whip Rep. Kelly C. Atkinson after he described LGBT Democrats as a party "fringe" group in an op-ed commentary which was published by a local newspaper. Atkinson said later that he regretted his use of the description.[125][126][127] The attempt to censure Atkinson was a primary reason that legislative Democrats and party leaders were critical of Nelson and asked Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats leaders in 1996 to stop describing the group as Democratic.[128][129][130]
  • Created an online national network of LGBT groups which were affiliated with the Democratic Party in 1995 to re-establish the communication between the groups that existed with the former Washington-based National Association of Gay and Lesbian Democratic Clubs, and helped found the Washington-based National Stonewall Democratic Federation in 1996 at the Democratic National Committee.[131] U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts developed the federation further when he incorporated the Washington-based National Stonewall Democrats in 1999.
  • Lobbied successfully in 1995 for the adoption of a Utah Democratic Party resolution to support the adoption of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.[132]
  • Lobbied unsuccessfully in 1996 against the promise by Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson to oppose same-sex marriage and "vote my constituents' wishes" if he were elected to the Congress despite supporting equal marriage rights. Anderson was critical of Nelson and others who opposed Anderson's change of opinion, and said that he couldn't "believe some of them were hiding in waiting to take pot shots at me now."[133][134]
  • Served in 1996 as an openly gay delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago[27][118][135][136][137][138][139][140][141] and as the Utah LGBT-outreach director for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign.[118][142]
  • Served in 2000 as an openly gay delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles[143][144][145][146][147][148][149] and as the Utah LGBT-outreach director for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign.[150]
  • Served from 2003 to 2004 as an openly gay Utah coordinator for the Wesley Clark presidential campaign.
  • Helped staff a National Rifle Association of America Inc. exhibit in 2005 at the Utah Democratic Convention.[151][152][153]

Recognition

For his work in politics, Nelson...

  • Received in 1988 a Gay and Lesbian Community Council of Utah Inc. encomium.
  • Won in 1990 the Gay and Lesbian Utah Democrats Board of Directors' Award.
  • Won in 1993 a Utah Stonewall Center Diversity Is Great Award.[154]
  • Received in 1994 a People with AIDS Coalition of Utah Community Award In Politics nomination.
  • Received in 1995 a Utah Stonewall Center Diversity Is Great Lifetime Achievement Award nomination.
  • Received in 1995 a Salt Lake County Board of Commissioners encomium.
  • Received from 1997 to 2003 Utah Pride Festival Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service Award nominations.
  • Won in 1998 a Democratic National Committee Lawrence O'Brien Award.[27][28][118][155]
  • Received in 1999 a U.S. Department of Justice for the District of Utah encomium.
  • Received in 2003 a Utah Stonewall Historical Society Milestone Award nomination.
  • Received in 2006 a Deseret Morning News "Pignanelli & Webb" encomium.[8]
  • Won in 2008 the Salt Lake City Weekly Best of Utah "Best 'Cold dead hands'" Award.[112]

See also

References

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