DIVERSITY

Two Utah couples feel targeted after pride flag theft, vandalism

Nov 17, 2022, 7:15 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — As lawmakers prepare to pass same-sex marriage protections, two gay couples in Utah feel unsafe after crimes were committed on their properties.

Zach Hutchings and his partner said the pride flag outside their house was stolen Tuesday night.

“Came out, went to the office, noticed it was gone,” Hutchings said. “Decided to check the cameras, and sure enough, someone came to borrow it.”

He said he wasn’t surprised by the surveillance footage.

Ring doorbell video shows someone walking up to his house in the Avenues. That person jumps up to the flag pole, misses, then jumps again. The individual then rips down the entire flag pole and runs down the street with the flag in hand.

“I wasn’t too bothered by it, to be honest,” Hutchings said. “It’s something that we’ve come to expect, I think. When it happens to you, you take it and move on.”

Ogden couple Taylor Knuth and Sean Bishop woke up to find their progress pride flag burned to pieces on their front porch Wednesday.

“We’ve been together for almost 12 years now, and we’ve called Ogden home for most of that time, so to see that flag kind of laying there melted onto the porch, it was really disheartening that that could happen in my city, in my home,” Knuth expressed.

Bishop said, waking up to a piece of their property burned rattled him.

“What could’ve happened?” he said. “Our bedroom’s just right up there. Who knows if would’ve woken up in time to stop it if it did get out of control.”

The vandalism happened the same week lawmakers worked to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. The bill would protect same-sex and interracial marriages.

“We were thinking and talking about that as we went to bed that night,” Bishop said.

Both incidents happened during the same week the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it was backing the Respect for Marriage Act.

Hutchings said overall, he’s pleased with that stance, but he’d like to see more progress, especially after the theft.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a win, but I think religious freedoms and equalities go hand in hand, and I hate to see, globally, those two factions fighting rather than working together,” he said.

Knuth and Bishop are working with police to investigate what happened at their home. They said they feel supported by many of their friends and neighbors.

“The people of Ogden really showed up for us in the last few days. I think we’ve had a half dozen flags dropped off or mailed to us,” Knuth said.

They said recent legislation is a good first step but not enough.

“Obviously, we’re still not there yet,” Bishop said. “There’s still work to do.”

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Two Utah couples feel targeted after pride flag theft, vandalism