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Grass-roots fundraising at heart of same-sex marriage fight
Courts » It’s a grass-roots pocketbook issue for folks on both sides of same-sex court fight.

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Urgent outreach » To supporters such as Kylee Ehat, 22, who has pledged to donate $20 to the campaign every month, it seems like a fair trade.

"The plaintiffs in this case have made their lives public when they could have easily just moved somewhere or gone to get married in California or something," she said. "It was so beautiful to me that these people were so different from everyone else. They were willing to stand up and fight for what they believe. I thought if they could do that, why can’t I?"

At a glance

Ways to donate

Visit Restore Our Humanity’s donation page at www.restoreourhumanity.org/donate

Visit the 145 donation campaign’s website directly at 145fund.org, where you can make a one-time donation or a regularly recurring pledge.

Text “145fund” to 50155 from your cellphone.

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Ehat lives in St. George. In her youth, she struggled to accept herself for who she is. Several times, she considered suicide.

Ehat met Lawrence and other members of Restore Our Humanity at a town hall the group staged in conjunction with students from Dixie State University last month.

The town hall, Lawrence said, was meant to help spread their message and raise awareness, but also to appeal to individuals.

There’s an urgency to this outreach — with the Kitchen v. Herbert case on an expedited calendar in the 10th Circuit, it’s possible the Denver court will rule sometime in the next several weeks, putting the case on a fast track to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We’re where we are now where we expected to be a year and a half from now," Lawrence said. "It hasn’t left a lot of time to raise the kind of money we thought we’d have more time to collect."

Lawrence believes this person-to-person approach will inspire people to get involved who may not otherwise believe they can make any difference. People like Ehat, who can’t afford to give much but feel connected to the cause and want to help.

"I recently quit smoking, and I was spending something like $60 a month on cigarettes. I thought, if I can afford $60 a month on something completely toxic, I can afford to spend $20 a month on my future," Ehat said. "I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not well-off by any means. But I think of it like this: If you can break down your bills and find you have enough to spend $5 on coffee or a pack of cigarettes or a pizza or whatever, you can afford to spend $5 on your future, your children’s future. You can donate a dollar to something that’s going to change the world."

So far, Restore Our Humanity’s 145 campaign — so called because of its ambition to get one person for five dollars — has raised a little more than $2,000, according to spokesman Matthew Spencer.

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Ehat and her girlfriend got engaged less than three weeks ago. They spoke briefly about flying to California to be married, of not having to worry about the legal limbo that Utah’s gay and lesbian couples have found themselves in.

But Ehat’s fiancée has an elderly grandmother who can’t make the trip. She lives with the couple and is the most important person in Ehat’s fiancée’s life.

Ehat knew they couldn’t get married without her.

"We can’t get married anywhere else," she said. "Utah’s it for us."

Familiar stories » In Salt Lake City, another grandmother is donating $5 to the same-sex marriage lawsuit every time she gets paid. It’s an investment in her gay grandaughter’s someday wedding, she said.

Shelli King’s granddaughter came out to her family two years ago around Christmastime. She was 17. No wedding was in the works.

But King decided then and there she would get ordained to perform wedding ceremonies — just in case.

"I wanted to always be ready, so when that day comes, she can come to me and ask me to marry her," King said. "And when that day comes, my granddaughter deserves to be legally protected. She deserves to marry the person she loves and live her life without fear."

With the possibility of legal gay marriages on the horizon, King said, it was time to put her money where her mouth is.

A longtime vocal supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage, King, 54, said she’s broadcast her $5 donations across social media in hopes it will stir others to action.

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