(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Derek Kitchen knows something about working to establish “inalienable rights” in Utah. As a plaintiff with his partner, Moudi Sbeity, he was responsible for establishing the “right to love” in the reddest state in America, a place traditionally opposed to gay marriage and equal rights for all.
Kitchen took on a culture that was established before Utah entered the union. His game-changing style allowed him to prevail in district court and then subsequently in the Supreme Court of the United States when it upheld the lower court’s ruling.
Kitchen’s precedent-setting Utah case has been pivotal in influencing the shifting terrain on the gay marriage issue throughout the county as other red states like Oklahoma have followed with similar rulings. It is with this force and effect that Kitchen came before a supportive crowd who knew him well.
In this EnviroNews segment, Kitchen addressed a sizable crowd at Utah’s Clean Air Now! rally on Saturday, Jan 31, 2015, turning his efforts toward making his home a cleaner and better place to breathe. Utah’s Wasatch Front includes several northern counties that have consistently ranked among the worst areas for air quality in the United States.
For the past three years, citizens have been gathering at the state capitol during severe atmospheric inversions to call for more regulations that would help clean up Utah’s dangerous air. Many residents believe that Utah’s poor reputation includes failing to pass legislation that would help thousands currently suffering from pulmonary and other air pollution-related ailments.
Kitchen called for Utah legislators to address the issue as a “public health crisis,” saying that, “just like the freedom of speech, the right to drinkable water or the freedom to love, access to breathable air is an inalienable right.”
Kitchen and his supporters say they will continue to monitor the progress of this and other bills introduced in the Beehive State legislature during this year’s lawmaking session, which ends at midnight on March 12.
In early February, 2015, Kitchen declared his candidacy for the Salt Lake City council.