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‘Modern Family’ star Ty Burrell headlines same-sex marriage fundraiser in Utah

Thursday, June 19, 2014
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Modern Family's Ty Burrell, left, and co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson laugh during an interview Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Burrell is headlining a fundraiser in Salt Lake City on Thursday, an event staged by an organization that Ferguson and his real-life husband created to help pay for the legal costs of challenging same-sex marriage bans. Rick Bowmer, AP

Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, left, and co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson laugh during an interview Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Burrell is headlining a fundraiser in Salt Lake City on Thursday, an event staged by an organization that Ferguson and his real-life husband created to help pay for the legal costs of challenging same-sex marriage bans.

SALT LAKE CITY — “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell says he sees same-sex marriage in the United States is a “tide that can’t be turned.”

Burrell headlined a fundraiser Thursday evening in Salt Lake City to help cover legal costs for couples fighting Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, lending his celebrity to help a group backed by sitcom co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Ty Burrell, who plays bumbling dad Phil Dunphy on ABC's “Modern Family,” stands outside Bar X, the cocktail bar he co-owns, in Salt Lake City.Rick Bowmer, AP

Ty Burrell, who plays bumbling dad Phil Dunphy on ABC’s “Modern Family,” stands outside Bar X, the cocktail bar he co-owns, in Salt Lake City. (Click photo to expand.)

“It’s really a tide of people understanding that love is love, and that there’s no going back,” Burrell said in the downtown clothing store he partly owns. He drifted among chambray shirts and chandeliers to take pictures with plaintiffs and mingle with attendees. About 100 people came to the event.

Ferguson, who plays one half of the ABC hit’s gay couple, founded Tie The Knot with his real-life husband, Justin Mikita, in 2012.

At the event, they sold a bow tie designed by Burrell, featuring vintage road maps of his native Oregon for $25. Bartenders mixed Moscow mules, a signature cocktail at Burrell’s Salt Lake City speakeasy-style bar called Bar X.

Ferguson said he and Mikita are “not the type of guys that are going to be out with the bullhorns going, ‘equality now.’ We do it through humor, we do it through fashion.”

Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, one of the couples bringing the lawsuit, knew of Tie the Knot and pitched the fundraiser idea to Burrell.

“You would be surprised at how many people are eager to put what they can on the table and support us here, so it’s really great,” Kitchen said.

In December, Burrell served as the official witness to an unplanned lesbian wedding at his bar when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in Utah.

“It was such an exciting few days,” he said.

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