‘Capitol 13’ to plead not guilty for gay rights protest

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Members of the so-called "Capitol 13" and their attorneys at a news conference on Thursday.

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the so-called “Capitol 13,” who blocked access to a committee meeting at the Utah State Legislature in protest of a gay-rights bill that had been killed, intend to plead not guilty to misdemeanor charges.

At a news conference on Thursday, the gay rights activists locked arms with their lawyers on the Capitol steps and decried their prosecution. The Salt Lake City Prosecutor’s Office filed class B misdemeanor charges of “disrupting a meeting or procession.”

“The Capitol 13 pleads not guilty,” Troy Williams said.

The group had retained some big lawyers to represent them, including renowned defense attorneys Ron Yengich and Tara Isaacson, who stood with their clients.

“These folks don’t have a voice here,” Yengich said, pointing at the Capitol building.

He compared the persecution of the LGBT community to that of Mormon pioneers, who fled from state to state before founding Utah, and accused state lawmakers of ignoring gay rights to pander to their base of conservatives.

“We look forward to our day in court,” he said. “You don’t want protests? Do your job, legislature!”

On Feb. 10, a group of gay rights activists blockaded the entrance to the governor’s office in support of SB 100, which would have provided protections in housing and employment that included sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, and Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, was never heard because lawmakers refused to consider any LGBT-related bills while the state appealed the ruling that struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

After Utah Highway Patrol troopers refused to arrest the group, they moved to a legislative committee room, where they prevented people from getting in. After a heated confrontation with lawmakers, the 13 were placed in handcuffs.

The Salt Lake City Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the charges Thursday. The group is due to make their first court appearance Sept. 26.

11 comments

  • Reality what a concept

    Sorry, but blocking access is just wrong. There are better ways to have your voice heard, than blocking access to a meeting. All you are doing is annoying the people that are trying to get some where.

  • Bystander

    They also trapped people inside the room, who wanted to get out. If the legislature eventually passes SB 100, it will be in spite of stunts like this, not because of them.

  • Gail Turpin

    The 3 comments I see here are so flawed. Many people, not just the Capitol 13, have tried to get a state-wide anti-discrimination bill passed for 5 years.. 72% of the people polled in the state of Utah favor it. People were not “trapped” anywhere. And if you don’t understand what Mr. Yengich was saying, then it makes sense that you don’t understand what we are doing.

  • Rivka Levy

    The first 3 comments seem vacuous and totally inane to me. No civil rights fragments of heart there! GO CAPITOL 13!

  • Bob

    Every once in a while Mother Nature makes a booboo. Anyone who’s ever lived on a farm have a pretty fair understanding of what She intended.

    • Open your mind Bob...

      So, is this you admitting to having relations with farm animals? You are gross… Keep calm and hate on Bob… The rest of us will evolve while you get drunk off a 2000 year old story book and some fake doctorine….

      • Bob

        No, OPEN YOUR MIND BOB…, that isn’t what Mother Nature intended. What your suggesting is deviate behavior. Perhaps you could get your father to explain the birds and bees to you.

    • jps

      Thing is, nature isn’t a person. It doesn’t have an intention or a grand scheme. It just is. Homosexuality has been around as long as man has, if not longer. It is found in other animal species as well. Man labels things they aren’t comfortable as unnatural to make themselves feel comfortable, it doesn’t mean its true.

      Of course homosexuality cannot cause reproduction of the species, but when it comes down to it marriage isn’t about reproduction. It is about committing your life with the person that you love and sharing your resources with them to better enhance each other. The genders and sexual orientation of the people involved only matter to the 2 getting married and shouldn’t matter to anyone else.

  • Carol Evans, PhD

    The Courageous and Compassionate Capitol 13 and their attorneys are heroes for taking up the cause of equal civil rights for all citizens. We are all obligated, as a society, for the good of all, to treat all our citizens with dignity.

      • Bob

        There is nothing hateful about encouraging traditional marriage between one man and one woman OPEN YOUR MIND.
        Not only is it traditional it is also normal for the vast percentage of Mother Nature’s children.

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