13 gay rights activists arrested at Utah State Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY — Thirteen gay rights activists were arrested after blockading the entrance to a legislative committee hearing, demanding that a nondiscrimination bill be heard.

They were handcuffed after a day long demonstration that began Monday morning outside Governor Gary Herbert’s Office, then moved to a committee hearing. They were demanding that Senate Bill 100 be considered.

“If the democratic process won’t work, and if we’re allowed for procedural things like tabling to stop hearing things like the nondiscrimination bill, it’s time for regular citizens to engage in peaceful acts like civil disobedience,” said Dustin Trent, who was led away in handcuffs.

SB 100, which would prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation, will not be heard this year. Neither will any other bills dealing with gay rights or religious freedom, because it may affect the state’s appeal of Amendment 3.

“Amendment 3 is a convenient excuse not to be heard,” said LGBT activist Troy Williams. “We demand to be heard!”

The group began standing in front of the governor’s office doors about 9:30 a.m. Monday. By mid-day, they had blockaded several people from getting to appointments. Governor’s staffers ferried those people in and out through side doors.

“I would like to see their passion and zeal directed in a way that is far more fruitful,” Utah Log Cabin Republicans president James Humphries told FOX 13 as he left the governor’s office.

The Utah Highway Patrol was reluctant to arrest the demonstrators. Instead, they have tried to negotiate with them to step away. SB 100 sponsors Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, were also called to try to negotiate with the demonstrators, who refused to move.

“I don’t want to see anyone arrested,” Urquhart said, pleading with the protesters to give him time to approach the Senate GOP caucus, or to set up a town hall meeting next week to talk about SB 100.

The demonstrators refused to budge.

As the hours dragged on, the protestors sat in front of the governor’s office. Senate leadership insisted that SB 100 would not likely make it out of the rules committee, as it did not have the votes.

“The frustration that has driven these Utahns to take direct action is understandable,” the gay rights group Equality Utah, said in a tweet.

Last year, a federal judge in Salt Lake City declared Amendment 3 — which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and does not recognize anything else — unconstitutional. In 17 days, more than 1,300 same-sex couples wed in Utah until the U.S. Supreme Court granted the state’s request for a stay pending appeal.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case in April. Legislative leadership has agreed to not hear any bills either for or against gay rights so as not to show “animus” toward the LGBT community as the appeal goes forward.

LGBT activists protesting outside the governor’s office insisted that not hearing SB 100 was showing “animus.”

Outside the committee hearing, lawmakers and committee hearing attendees were frustrated with the protesters. Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, asked them to move and when the demonstrators wouldn’t budget, summoned the UHP.

“Arrest them!” one woman shouted. “Arrest them all!”

After the legislative counsel read them the statute, warning the activists that they could face either a misdemeanor charge of interference with a public servant or a felony charge of interfering with the legislature, troopers began making arrests.

Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird said the 13 were arrested on suspicion of disruption of a public meeting, a class B misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor. They were taken to the Salt Lake County Jail to be booked and released.

“Equality is worth it!” one activist shouted as he was led away in handcuffs.

15 comments

  • R.S

    I can and WILL base my Rental decision in part of thepercieved orientation of the prospective tenant.

    Nothing illegal with that :P:P:P

    • Tyler

      Well aren’t you just cute! As someone who also is in business, I consider it foolish to turn away a paying customer (and in your case, one who would be a reliable customer/tenant) for reasons as petty and inconsequential as one’s sexual orientation. The income you refuse will end up in the pockets of your competitors instead of yours. But I guess some people are in business to make more than others…

  • Christopher Beebe

    COMPLETELY uncalled for. Arrest the arresting officers on the grounds of hate crimes. That’s what I say. AND refusing to acknowledge SB100 or ANY bill that deals with LGBT rights or religious freedom this year.

  • RS

    Fortunately, the perceived hate crimes were in the line of duty. Your citing hate crimes, what act of violence was committed? Disorderly conduct is an unlawful offense. Refusing to vacate or allow visiting persons to the governors office was grounds for removal. remember the pot head that stormed the capital? Were hate crimes enacted on his person facilitating an arrest? And by the way…… just to spite you….. As long as it is not a protected class…. I DO decline to rent to someone that is not in the protected class column.. LOL

  • MP

    @ RS “Just to spite you”? Were you raised to hate others, did you learn to hate all on your own, or maybe it was taught in your doctrine? One day you will have to answer for your spite and hate… something to think about. If you look into it people do not choose to be LGBT, it has been proven they were “made” this way. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to allow myself to hate someone based on how they were put on this earth, I’m able to sleep at night knowing that I have not caused others pain. We all bleed, breathe, feel, love, hurt, the same… they are your fellow HUMAN BEINGS… just remember… one day you will have to answer for your hate and spite… pray on that!

  • Road

    Totally disagree with the made that way bs arguement..
    And how about your hate for the ones you perceive to hate.. You judge just as much..
    I read nothing from RS as hate.. You just don’t like the fact that he rents to who he chooses to.

  • Jon

    I am for protesting and standing up and exercising your first amendment rights (free speech).
    The actions of the activist at the capitol was a crime once they was ask to disband, they made a decision to commit a crime and that crime that was committed is:
    BUT they will not be charge with this crime even though they fit the elements of the crime to be
    Charge (READ below)
    ยง 76-9-902. Definitions
    As used in this part:
    (1) “Criminal street gang” means an organization, association in fact, or group of three or more persons, whether operated formally or informally:
    (a) that is currently in operation;
    (b) that has as one of its substantial activities the commission of one or more predicate gang crimes;
    (c) that has, as a group, an identifying name or an identifying sign or symbol, or both; and
    (d) whose members, acting individually or in concert with other members, engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.

    (2) “Gang loitering” means a person remains in one place under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the purpose or effect of that behavior is to enable or facilitate a criminal street gang to:
    (a) establish control over one or more identifiable areas;
    (b) intimidate others from entering those areas; or
    (c) conceal illegal activities.

    (3) “Pattern of criminal gang activity” means committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting the commission of two or more predicate gang crimes within five years, if the predicate gang crimes are committed:
    (a) (i) by two or more persons; or
    (ii) by an individual at the direction of or in association with a criminal street gang; and

    (b) with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by members of a criminal street gang.
    In Utah the officials pick and choose who gets charged and if charged it depends on who they know and this decision is no doubt based on race, you can believe what you want to believe but I have lived here all my life and see it not as much as I did as a young man but it still exist and this is a prime example!

    And this crime is a crime that mandates a very long time in prison!

    ENJOY

  • Joel

    It’s really sad that this whole issue is based on Lies and ignorance of the LDS and it’s sad that some people are to stupid to read in between the lines to know the LDS is fraud and you think you would get that knowing the fact that Thomas Monson is in court as we speak for this very reason.

  • Tyler Clark

    Jon, it’s really interesting how all of that gang bs you just yammered sounds a lot like the Utah government. Are we being governed by a gang? Hmm. Kinda sounding that way…

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