Photos by David Newkirk
The Capitol 13, a group of gay-rights activists who were arrested earlier this month during a sit in outside Gov. Gary Herbert’s office, are threatening to double down following a postponed court hearing Monday.
Protester are trying to force lawmakers to at least hear SB100 that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. A majority of Utahns support the idea.
Activist Troy Williams says the Utah Highway Patrol, which arrested the protesters, failed to file the paperwork for their appearance in Salt Lake Justice Court. Williams suspects it’s a stalling tactic to allow the session to end, so Republican lawmakers can leave town without further negative publicity.
A UHP spokesman said the paperwork would be filed later Monday, and Judge John Baxter penciled in a hearing date in 30 days. (The session ends March 13.)
According to Williams’ blog:
"Was this a delaying tactic to move this out of the public eye until the Legislature is over? We can only speculate. But the LGBT community knows what it feels like to be dismissed and ignored. The Utah Legislature and our governor have been doing that for years. Which only means we need to roar louder."
Lawmakers have refused to hear the anti-discrimination bill because the attorney general said their debate could have an impact on the state's gay marriage case at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A date for the Big Roar has already been set—the activists plan a rally at the Capitol on March 5, 12:30 p.m. "We need the Legislators and the governor to recognize that we are never going back into the closet, we are never going to be silent and we are never going to stop fighting for our rights," says Williams.
Meanwhile, Senators Steve Urqhart, the sponser of HB100, and Jm Debakis, an openly gay Democrat, will host a "conversation" between the LGBTQ community and Utah state leaders. Wednesday at 6 p.m. in State Capitol Room 445.