SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 30, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen and his husband Moudi Sbeity have announced they are divorcing.
Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City) and Sbeity are key figures in the state’s same sex marriage fight, and served as plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, a lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Utah.
Kitchen and Sbeity own Laziz Kitchen, a Lebanese restaurant in Salt Lake City. The two started the business Laziz in 2012, focusing on Middle Eastern food production. Sbeity moved from Lebanon to Utah in 2006 to pursue his education, and subsequently met Kitchen.
A post Monday morning from Sbeity on the Laziz Kitchen Facebook page said: “Derek and I posted to our personal pages yesterday the news that we have decided to pursue individual paths and end our marriage. We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support as we chose to open the doors to the public in regards to our evolving relationship.”
Sbeity goes on to share the post that the two shared to their personal pages, which reads in full:
“When we met 10 years ago, we did not know what would be in store for us, nor did we know how far our shared strengths and compatible differences would take us. We are incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together — from our fight for marriage equality, growing two businesses, and running for public office. We’ve been proud to share this journey with you publicly with full transparency, right from the beginning. We couldn’t have done it without your support.
“Within our fight for marriage equality, we fought for all the challenges and rights that come along with it. So, it is with much love and in the interest of living with full transparency still, that we are letting you know that we have decided to pursue individual paths and end our marriage.
“Had we known that this would be the outcome when we met, we would do it all over again. We remain good friends, business partners, and supporters for each other. We still care deeply for, and love each other, and hope that you can find comfort and love in the knowledge that we will continue to stand for and work for our community, whether it’s through politics, or a safe space for a warm meal.
“As we navigate this new reality, we hope that we can count on your respect and ongoing support. We are reminded of this quote from Francis Weller: ‘The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them.’ Grief for our loss and gratitude for our shared growth.
“Love is love, and love will be love again.”
The post on the Laziz Kitchen page also adds: “Many people have asked about the future of Laziz Kitchen, and so we wanted to address that here. Rest assured that we remain, friends and business partners– as committed to bringing you a warm meal and a safe and welcoming place to enjoy it, as ever. Our doors will open tomorrow as usual and our hearts are open to the great community, team, and friendships we’ve seen grow over the years.
“We only ask for your support in providing us some personal privacy as we turn the page to this new chapter and continued support of Laziz Kitchen as the gathering place that it has become.”
The restaurant was in the news earlier this year after a pride flag outside was damaged three times by vandals.
Kitchen, a South Jordan native, was first elected to the Salt Lake City Council in 2015. He was elected to serve as a member of the Utah State Senate in 2018, representing District 2. He attended the University of Utah, studying political science and Spanish.