|Member of the Utah Senate
from the 2nd district
|Preceded by||Ben McAdams|
|Chairman of the
Utah Democratic Party
|Preceded by||Wayne Holland|
Jim Dabakis is an American politician from Salt Lake City, Utah. A Democrat, he is a member of the Utah State Senate, where he represents the state's 2nd senate district. He also serves as chairman of the Utah Democratic Party.
Early life and career
Born into a Greek-American family from Springfield, Massachusetts, Dabakis is the son of a machinist. Raised as a Greek Orthodox, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 11 so that he could play on a Church-affiliated basketball team. In 1971, he enrolled at Brigham Young University and sought guidance from Mark E. Petersen, one of the Church's apostles, about his homosexuality. He was sent to the San Francisco bay area as a missionary and has since ceased to be a practicing Mormon.
On leaving BYU, Dabakis became a talk-radio and TV host in Salt Lake City. He also organized tours of the Eastern Bloc. In 1991, he moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia where he taught business at a Russian university, developed an art business and provided micro-loans to a variety of emerging Russian entrepreneurs. He split his time between Salt Lake City and St. Petersburg over the next twenty years. With his Russian business and his success in buying and selling radio stations, Dabakis created significant wealth.
Dabakis was elected chair of the Utah Democratic Party in July 2011. He has made outreach to Mormons a focus of his tenure at the head of the party.
Dabakis was appointed to the Utah Senate by Democratic delegates in December 2012, following the election of senator Ben McAdams to the mayoralty of Salt Lake County. Five candidates sought the senate appointment, with Dabakis besting Peter Corroon, the outgoing mayor of Salt Lake County, by a vote of 67 to 61 in the final round of balloting.
One of the co-founders of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, Dabakis is openly gay. His partner is Stephen Justeson, to whom he proposed on June 26, 2013. The two were legally wed by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office on December 20, 2013, just hours after a federal judge ruled the state's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.
- Horowitz, Jason (2012-11-26). "Gay activist using Utah as a political laboratory". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Jim Dabakis Elected Utah Democratic Party Chairman". Associated Press. 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Jim Dabakis elected to McAdams' Utah Senate seat". Deseret News. 2012-12-01. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
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