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Utah state senator proposes to longtime partner at marriage ruling celebration

Thursday, June 27, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — An openly gay Utah state senator didn’t just give a speech at a party celebrating two Supreme Court victories for gay rights — he took to the stage to propose to his longtime partner.

Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis popped the question to partner Stephen Justesen Wednesday at a rainbow flag-draped rally at Salt Lake City’s Club Sound. The two met 26 years ago.

Chris Detrick, The Salt Lake Tribune/AP
Utah Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, (right) proposes to Stephen Justesen, his partner of over twenty-five years, during a party at Club Sound Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

“Stephen, after all these years, will you marry me?” Dabakis said over the whoops of an approving crowd.

Dabakis, who took office earlier this year, is an art dealer and founding chair of the Utah Pride Center. In 2011, he became the first openly gay person to lead a state party in Utah.

Just hours after the high court on Wednesday struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage between a man and a woman, and cleared the way for same-sex unions in California, Dabakis stepped on stage at the celebration.

He opened by saying the gay marriage issue was “very deeply, deeply personal” for him, and introduced the crowd to “a wonderful man” he met nearly three decades ago.

That’s when Dabakis pulled out a ring he said he’d purchased that day and put it on Justensen’s finger.

Justesen told the crowd Dabakis had given him a different ring years ago that he still wears, but “this is super fantastic to have another one.”

Dabakis told The Salt Lake Tribune the proposal was a spur-of-the-moment decision and a wedding date hasn’t been set.

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67 more reader comments:

  1. Awwwwwwww! Cute :)

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:03pm
  2. And in Utah no less :)

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:04pm
  3. Wow!!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:05pm
  4. Big congrats! So awesome.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:06pm
  5. awwwe. nice!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:07pm
  6. Congrats. That is wonderful.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:07pm
  7. this is wonderful

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:08pm
  8. Oh my God, that

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:08pm
  9. is awesome

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:08pm
  10. So awesome one post couldn’t contain it – *oops*

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:08pm
  11. Congratz!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:10pm
  12. This is beautiful in so many ways x x

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:14pm
  13. That man has some cojones in Utah! Cool!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:16pm
  14. So very long over due. How wonderful for them. :)

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:16pm
  15. so cute love it

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:17pm
  16. I cried. :-)

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:19pm
  17. Awwe this totally gave me the chills!!! I say that w/ such pride that we are finally on the way to equality in the eyes of the law at least!!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:20pm
  18. This makes me so happy!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:22pm
  19. Wonderful. Enjoy the life and the love and sue the state of Utah.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:24pm
  20. Oh! That’s funny, Utah.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:27pm
  21. Congratulations!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:31pm
  22. WOW!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:33pm
  23. congrats

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:35pm
  24. <3

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:36pm
  25. #loveislove and i love it.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:37pm
  26. woo hoo! Congratulations!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:45pm
  27. FREAKIN A!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:52pm
  28. That’s awesome

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:52pm
  29. Congrats….this is awesome

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:54pm
  30. yay!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 5:55pm
  31. BEAUTIFUL!!! <3

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:15pm
  32. Awesome! And in the same state where the LDS Church is located. haha :P

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:15pm
  33. Congratulations to both of you!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:28pm
  34. Long they live together….way to go!! Congratulations!!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:35pm
  35. YAY LOVE!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:56pm
  36. that is so cool

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:01pm
  37. Congrats!!! :)

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:01pm
  38. Right on!! What a brave man.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:21pm
  39. I bet ALL kinds things are going through the minds of those who oppose this. They know who they are! I think its cool!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:30pm
  40. You go, Dude!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:31pm
  41. this rocks

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:42pm
  42. Maybe this will be the first step for utah to get with the rest of the us and the government

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:55pm
  43. How totally awesome

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:56pm
  44. That is awesome.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 8:24pm
  45. congratz and way to go!!!

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 8:28pm
  46. Holy crap

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 8:47pm
  47. Are my eyes reading correctly? Utah??

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 9:30pm
  48. Awesome. As troubling as some of what’s going on in the world today, things like this give me hope that when enough people push for a thing, they can make it happen. If you say the system is rigged & that there’s no sense in voting or signing petitions or protesting …..go fuck yourself. We made this happen by sheer force of will.

    Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 10:29pm
  49. Bravo!!!!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 12:52am
  50. Awh how sweet :)

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1:43am
  51. Wow….Utah!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1:43am
  52. in yo face anigay mormon church!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1:43am
  53. Congrats and how awesome

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 1:47am
  54. <3

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:02am
  55. All the very best to you both..may you enjoy a long, healthy, happy life together x

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:07am
  56. <3 it !

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:07am
  57. Let it shine let it shine let it shine

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:09am
  58. Congratulations, Wishing You a Life time of Happiness <3

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 2:55am
  59. Awww! That’s awesome!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 3:01am
  60. I think that is great! I wish them many more years of happiness <3

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 3:07am
  61. …gay

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:03am
  62. Congratulations!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 5:34am
  63. Utah is a stealth liberal state…When I was at a convention in salt lake city a number of number of years ago I found the pride center, busy, active with a coffeehouse and t-shirts for sale…across the alley from a police station with a “celebrate diversity” rainbow flag next to its door.

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 7:35am
  64. Congratulations!!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 9:04am
  65. Sweet!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:08am
  66. Wow, 26 years together and they live in Utah! Now that is TRUE LOVE and DEVOTION! :) Congratulations Senator Jim Dabakis on your official engagement! I wish you both all the best! :) There is hope for Utah, after all! :)

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:38am
  67. congrats!!

    Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:22am