I hate pumpkin bread. But this is quite a story.
Eric Ethington and Elaine Ball, founders of the grass-roots, service-oriented Pride in Your Community, stopped Republican Sen. Chris Buttars in his driveway on Saturday morning to share some home-baked bread and conversation.
Buttars invited Ball, Ethington and two other gay activists inside his home for what turned into an hourlong chat about Equality Utah's Common Ground Initiative, a collection of Democratic-backed bills that would provide some legal protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Utahns.
"I don't think we were expecting such a warm welcome," Ball said. "It was nice to be invited in."
The bread-and-Buttars discussion chipped away some stereotypes on both sides.
"That group has been hostile to me for many years," Buttars said Tuesday. "They said, 'Hi,' and it was easy to recognize they weren't there to argue or to condemn me. They were there to talk."
He called it one of the few conversations he has had with members of the LGBT community that "wasn't hostile."
Ball initially felt nervous about meeting the conservative legislator, who has tried to thwart Salt Lake City's domestic-partnership registry and student clubs for gay high-schoolers.
Buttars teased her for cracking her knuckles -- a habit he confessed to having to break himself.
"We were probably all a little nervous," Ball said. "It was nice, as the time went on, to realize that we were actually being listened to."