Jim Dabakis

Jim Dabakis
Member of the Utah Senate
from the 2nd district
Assumed office
December 2012
Preceded by Ben McAdams
Chairman of the
Utah Democratic Party
In office
July 2011  March 2014
Preceded by Wayne Holland
Succeeded by Peter Corroon
Personal details
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Stephen Justeson

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.

Early life, education, and career

Born into a Greek-American family from Springfield, Massachusetts, Dabakis is the son of a machinist. Raised Greek Orthodox, he was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 11. In 1971, he enrolled at Brigham Young University and sought guidance from Mark E. Petersen, one of the Church's apostles, about his homosexuality.[1] He was sent to the San Francisco bay area as a missionary.

Dabakis dropped out of BYU, and later 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. His official web page lists his profession as art dealer.[2] He is also the host of a local TV show in Salt Lake City called UP with Jim Dabakis.

One of the co-founders of Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center, Dabakis is openly gay.[3] On June 26, 2013, he proposed marriage to Stephen Justeson.[1][4] 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.

Political career

Senator Dabakis started his political career when he co-founded the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah. He works closely with both of these organizations.[5] Dabakis was elected chair of the Utah Democratic Party in July 2011.[6] He has made outreach to Mormons a focus of his tenure at the head of the party. In 2014, Dabakis stepped down as state party chair for health reasons and to spend more time with his husband, Stephen.[7]

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. Senator Dabakis won reelection in 2014.

Senator Dabakis has his own caucus, called the Dabakis Kakis. He holds weekly meetings to keep people updated on the legislative session. He also has a blog during the legislative session: http://dabakisdiary.wordpress.com.[8]

During the 2016 Legislative Session, Senator Dabakis served on the following committees:


In October 2015, Dabakis started a TV show and an advocacy organization for liberals in Utah called Utah Progressives.


2016 sponsored bills

Bill Number Bill Title Bill Status
SB98 Arts and Cultural Education Spending Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB104 Amendments to Tax Income Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB141 Alcohol Amendments Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB170 Indigenous Peoples Day Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB198 Amendments Related to Deferred Deposit Lending Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB207 Government Ethics - Post-Employement Restrictions Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB240 Public Accommodations Amendments Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SB241 Public Accommodation Fairness Act Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016
SJR4 Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution - Education Funding Senate/ Filed for bills not passed 3/10/2016


Notable legislation

Senator Dabakis sponsored bill SB141 in 2016, which sought to alter one of Utah's peculiar liquor laws, specifically it would remove Zion Curtains from restaurants. The bill was held in committee and did not pass.[11]


  1. 1 2 Horowitz, Jason (2012-11-26). "Gay activist using Utah as a political laboratory". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  2. "Jim Dabakis". Utah State Senate. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  3. "Jim Dabakis elected to McAdams' Utah Senate seat". Deseret News. 2012-12-01. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  4. "Utah state senator proposes to longtime partner". AP. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  5. "Dabakis, Jim". Utah State Senate. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  6. "Jim Dabakis Elected Utah Democratic Party Chairman". Associated Press. 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  7. Robert Gehrke. "Jim Dabakis, citing health issues, resigns as Utah's top Dem". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  8. https://dabakisdiary.wordpress.com/
  9. "District 2 Senator - Utah State Senate". senate.utah.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  10. "2016 -- Legislation(Senate)". le.utah.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  11. Decker, Rod (2016-02-21). "Bill to tear down Zion Curtain fails". KUTV News. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
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