Gay ex-Mormon Derek Kitchen looks to shake up Utah politics

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There are only 559 known lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer elected officials in the U.S. — just 0.1 percent of all elected officials across the country — according to a recent report by the LGBTQ Victory Institute, a nonprofit that trains and promotes political hopefuls. But this election cycle, a record number of LGBTQ Americans, who make up an estimated 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, are seeking office.

Can these candidates, who are running for positions ranging from town councilmembers to U.S. senators, help the LGBTQ community reach more proportionate representation? In a new NBC Out special series, “The 0.1 Percent,” NBC News profiles a handful of the hundreds of GBTQ Americans who are on the ballot this November.

SALT LAKE CITY — On Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity’s fifth anniversary together on Oct. 10, 2012, they walked into the county clerk’s office here to sign up for a something like a marriage. Back then, Utah banned same-sex marriages, but progressive Salt Lake City offered “mutual commitment ceremonies” to gay couples — a sort of separate-but-unequal consolation prize with the few marriage benefits the city could protect, like hospital visitation rights.

“It was the best and only formal recognition that he and I could get at the time,” Kitchen said. “That was when we really started to contemplate the meaning of marriage and why we might want to acquire that for ourselves, and maybe feel a little left out that gays and lesbians weren’t allowed to have that at that time.”

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