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McEntee: Girl sends a message in a valentine to Utah
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Out of the blue and for the first time in decades, I got a valentine.

Well, technically, I took possession of a valentine, created by a 9-year-old girl named Abigail who quotes Martin Luther King Jr. and wants the state of Utah to recognize her mothers' marriage.

This is a kid who, at age 4, led a marriage equality march across the Golden Gate Bridge and mentions there are nearly 1,400 federal protections and rights that affect only traditional marriage.

"It's really wrong that my moms aren't allowed to get married" in Utah, Abigail says. "I want to change hearts and minds. Why don't people get this — my moms are just the same as anyone else. Love is love."

Abigail Hasting-Tharp dropped by the newsroom unannounced on Monday with one mom, Jamila Tharp, a ministerial intern at Salt Lake City's First Unitarian Church. The family — other mom Michelle Hasting, sons Kaiden and Alexander and Jazzy the dog — moved here from Eureka, Calif., last year.

Jamila and Michelle were married there in the window of opportunity that allowed California gays and lesbians to marry before Proposition 8 canceled that right.

Abigail's valentine reads: "Will you be my Valentine, Utah? I have two moms and I love them with all my heart. We moved here last year and we have no legal rights, and no legal protections as a family in Utah.

"My moms are married, but you don't recognize this. WHY?"

The 20-by-24-inch card, bedecked with shiny hearts and frizzy white trim, bears dozens of signatures from students at Abigail's McGillis School and members of First Unitarian.

She told me that her mothers first were married in Canada in 2006, surrounded by family and friends. As they were heading back to the U.S. border, Abigail asked her moms whether, when they crossed, they would still be married. Her moms said no, not in the United States, not until the laws changed.

That irritated Abigail to no end, and as they drove over the border, she opened the window and yelled, "Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right!"

Jamila told me she and Michelle had gone to the Humboldt County Courthouse in Eureka every Valentine's Day for years to ask for a marriage license. The clerk always had to say no, until June 16, 2008, when same sex marriage became legal. The clerk called and said, " 'Get down here today. You know you have to be first,' " Jamila told me. " 'I'm tired of saying no.' "

For Abigail, the issue with her moms and all gay people who yearn for marriage is clear.

"I don't see them as any different. People should not be judged by who they are, but by the content of their character," she says. "I want Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to come completely true."

This is one valentine I'll keep forever.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter @pegmcentee.

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