Too Hard

01.06.14

Utah Man Gives Up Gay Marriage Hunger Strike

The Utah man who vowed to starve himself until his state nullified a judge’s ruling striking down a gay marriage ban is eating again. Next time, he’s giving up football.

The Supreme Court put a hold on a Utah judge’s ruling, invalidating the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and, in celebration, Trestin Meacham ate some yogurt. The 35-year-old one-time state senate candidate had been fasting for 15 days in protest of the court’s decision, hoping that his hunger strike would result in Utah nullifying the ruling. That didn’t happen. But Meacham is happy to count the Supreme Court’s stay as a personal victory, even if he acknowledges that starving himself almost certainly had no impact on the high court’s decision.

Meacham lives in Richfield, a small town of about 7,500 in Utah’s “Mormon Corridor.” In 2012, he ran a self-financed state senate campaign on the ultra-conservative U.S. Taxpayers Party ticket—a “very not fun” experience that he has no plans to repeat. While he makes no effort to deny that he is wholeheartedly opposed to same-sex marriage, Meacham insists that his hunger strike was in response to “the unconstitutional nature” of the judge’s ruling. “If a judge can do that and overthrow the people, there is no part of the constitution that’s safe,” he told The Daily Beast. “He could strike out the Second Amendment tomorrow.”

He’d also like to make one thing clear, as most vocal gay rights opponents often do: He doesn’t hate gay people. He has plenty of gay friends and relatives, he just happens to disagree with them on this one issue. Still, the man did starve himself in the name of a same-sex marriage ban and it, unsurprisingly, earned him a lot of backlash.

“I’ve gotten a few threats, some rather obscene phone calls in the middle of the night, things like that,” he says. “It’s pretty vile. A lot of things questioning my sexuality, things they’re going to do to me. They can’t wait for me to die so they can dig up my grave, things like that.”

So what happens if a federal appeals court decides to uphold the original judge’s ruling and make same-sex marriage legal in Utah again? “I’m going to make the ultimate sacrifice. I’m going to give up football,” says Meacham. He promised his fiancée he’d only fast once.