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Home of Utah lawmaker who sponsored bill banning transgender surgeries for minors vandalized

Opponents and backers of SB16 condemn vandalism; Kennedy said a statement that he ‘won’t back down’

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Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, presents SB16 at the Capitol on Jan. 24, 2023. Kennedy’s home was recently vandalized.

Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, presents SB16 to the House Health and Human Services Standing Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Jan. 24, 2023. Kennedy’s home was recently vandalized.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The residence of a Utah County lawmaker who sponsored legislation to halt transgender surgeries and medical interventions for youth in the state has been vandalized.

Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, posted a photo to his Facebook page Friday that depicts a message spray painted in red on his garage doors, walls and driveway.

The message used a slur for transgender people, saying “these ... bash back.”

According to the Lone Peak Police Department, police were notified of the vandalism about 7:30 a.m. Friday morning. 

“The suspects appear to have targeted the senator based on legislation that recently passed in the last legislative session. Officers are working diligently to gather evidence to find the suspects involved,” a statement from the department said.

Kennedy, R-Alpine, was a sponsor of SB16, which passed during the Utah Legislature’s 2023 General Session on votes largely along party lines and was quickly signed into law by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

The bill banned transgender surgeries for Utah youth and halted new treatments such as prescribing puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to minors.

Civil rights organizations have threatened to file lawsuits to temporarily block SB16 from full effect, pending further legal rulings. The bill went into effect Jan. 28, upon the governor’s signature, said Utah Senate communications director Aundrea Peterson.

Kennedy responded to the vandalism in a statement released by the Utah Senate: “To those who seek to use violence, vandalism, and intimidation to deter me from standing up for what is right, let me be clear: you will not succeed. I will not be deterred by your cowardly actions. The recent vandalism to my family’s home was not just an attack on me, but on the very principles our state stands for.

“We will not let fear and violence control our destiny. As Utahns, we will always stand up and push back against radicals who seek to push their agenda in our state. I am more determined than ever to work with the good people of Utah to make our state a better place for all, especially our children, and I won’t back down.”

Kennedy also responded on Facebook, saying in part, “I will not back down from fighting for what is right and just. Your attempt to threaten and silence me will only make me louder. I am more determined than ever to work with the good people of Utah toward a better future for our state.”

Utah Eagle Forum and Equality Utah, who represent differing positions on SB16, each issued statements condemning the vandalism. 

Utah Eagle Forum’s statement said in part, “Despite facing threats to his own safety and that of his family, Senator Kennedy has stood courageously to defend the children of Utah. The recent vandalism to Senator Kennedy’s home is not only a threat of physical harm, but also attacks the fundamental values that we hold dear as a community. We condemn this cowardly action in the strongest possible terms and pledge to stand together in support of those who work tirelessly to safeguard our children and uphold our shared values.”

It continued, “As a community, we will not be intimidated or silenced by those who seek to undermine our efforts to protect our children and preserve our way of life. We will continue to stand firm in our commitment to defend our values and ensure a brighter future for generations to come.”

Equality Utah’s statement said in part, “we want to make it clear that Equality Utah condemns these tactics in the absolute strongest terms.”

The statement said the organization does not know who vandalized Kennedy’s house “but we have been informed this may have been an act of retaliation for his sponsorship of SB16.”

Equality Utah, which describes itself as “Utah’s premier LGBTQ civil rights organization,” opposed the legislation.

Its statement continued, “As LGBTQ Americans, we know what it is like to be on the receiving end of violence. We know what it is like to fear for our own safety. It is never acceptable to replicate the violent or threatening tactics we have had to endure and target those with whom we have disagreements.”

Facebook comments were largely supportive of Kennedy’s policy position, with several people thanking him for his legislative service and integrity along with one post offering to help clean the paint off his home.