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Family resolution divides Kanab

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KANE COUNTY — The "natural family" will remain "a vision for the city of Kanab," even though most of the town's 3,600 residents appear to be offended by the controversial proclamation penned by the Sutherland Institute.

"When I first read the resolution, I knew it was wrong," said Kanab pharmacist Kortney Stirland, who attended the Kanab City Council meeting on Tuesday in support of rescinding the resolution.

"I feel bad for this town. The mayor and council will say they're taking the moral high ground, and of course the rest of us say that's not their job. Their lofty principles have divided this community."

More than 200 people packed the city library to hear representatives from both sides of the issue. The Sutherland Institute, a conservative-issues think tank headed by Paul Mero, provided the resolution that states, "Local government holds the protection of the natural family to be their first responsibility."

"This is a public policy document, not a lifestyle document," Mero said. "This is a vision statement that says if you base your community on the ideals in this resolution, chances are you'll have less crime, domestic violence and you'll have happier families."

The resolution states the "natural family is the fundamental unit of society" and encourages women to be "wives, homemakers and mothers," and men to be "husbands, home builders and fathers."

Under the resolution's vision, homes would be "open to a full quiver of children" and the source of family continuity and social growth.

The document, which the council passed unanimously on Jan. 10 without public comment, has generated angry e-mails, letters to the local newspaper and phone calls to area businesses and city officials.

"It's pathetic to me. This has set us back," Stirland said.

The only member of the five-person council who spoke against the resolution on Tuesday was Carol Sullivan.

"She said she would vote to rescind it but that died for lack of a second. Carol was the bravest person in that room, to say the resolution was a mistake," said Dan Gallagher, a three-year resident of Kanab who also spoke against the resolution.

"The majority of people there were in opposition to it, but that didn't seem to matter to the council. In my opinion, and you can print this, the council represented each other and not the people."

Several people spoke in favor of the resolution, including one woman who said she was afraid to speak up because of the large crowd. Sky Chaney read a new resolution into the city record that said Kanab's commitment was to all families and individuals.

Kanab Mayor Kim Lawson, who did not respond to phone calls before the council meeting, also voiced continued support for the resolution.

Kanab is the only local government in Utah out of the 232 contacted by the Sutherland Institute to approve the resolution.

E-mail: nperkins@desnews.com