About 200 LBGT activists rallied in the Capitol to call yet again for a hearing of SB100, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Roar, the informal protest song, rang through the marbled Rotunda and organizer Troy Williams thanked the crowd for the letters and emails they sent and rallies and "conversations" they attended to steer the Legislature toward gay civil rights.
Williams: “You did everything right and what did it get you?”
Williams: “We are here to send a message to the governor and the legislature—now is the time!”
Unfortunately, other than the LBGT crowd and their allies, no lawmakers were present to get the message.
Matthew Landis, one of the “Capitol 13” who were arrested at a protest outside the governor’s office last month, said the governor and lawmakers gave the LBGT community “a patronizing pat on the head.”
“These are not their rights to give us; they are our rights to claim for ourselves,” he said.
Unknown to the demonstrators, the most powerful mammal in Utah politics was a mere 50 feet away at the top of the marble stairs with her back turned. But Utah Eagle Forum founder Gayle Ruzicka, who was taking a break from bending Republican lawmakers to her will, wasn’t paying attention to the noise below her.
A Ruzicka-eye view of the rally.
When asked if the LGBT’s series of demonstrations and rallies were swaying conservative legislators, Ruzicka smiled serenely. “No, they’re not having any impact here. It’s their right, but there are other places they can go for impact. When they go to City Hall they have a great impact. But not here.”
It was obvious to everyone, including sponsor Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, that, despite the LGBT community roaring "louder, louder than a lion," HB100 is dead meat this session. "Next year, senator!" an activist told Urquhart.
But as Ruzicka shimmered past the protesters, Utah’s only openly gay lawmaker Sen. Jim Debakis ambushed her for an intense conversation. It may have been the day's most significant dialogue on gay rights.