From Drew Clark's column in the Deseret News on Sunday, December 27, 2015:

In some ways, Utah has never been more integrated into the United States than it is right now. With its diverse and thriving economy, its greater access to venture capital, and world-class recreation in national parks and ski resorts, the state is the envy of the rest of the country.

But in other key respects, Utah stands apart from the crowd. It continues to have unique demographics, the highest percentage of Republicans, and a commitment to following its unique path on a range of issues articulated below. From having favorite adopted son Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee in 2012, four years later Utahns are scratching their head at what appears to be happening to "their" political party.

This dual perspective — Utah-as-paradigmatic versus Utah-as-holdout — frames my own “top 10” list of the newsiest stories impacting Utah this past year:

1. Same-sex marriage — The national landscape on family law has been transformed by the Supreme Court's June decision instituting same-sex marriage across the country. Utah's unique contribution was its Legislature's passage in March of employment and housing antidiscrimination legislation. In guaranteeing the religious freedoms of those who object to the judicial redefinition of marriage, Utah provided a path that honors the individual rights of gays and lesbians, as well as those of all religious beliefs, and preserves social peace.

2. The immigration debate — Nationally, the political pre-election season that began this summer has been dominated by alternating attacks on Mexican immigration and Muslim refugees. Utah again provides a welcome breath of fresh air. This newspaper has applauded Utah Gov. Gary Herbert for being the only Republican governor willing to allow Syrian refugees to settle in his state. We need more Republicans to challenge the nativism currently gripping the party.

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