Michael Iverson contributed to this article.
Members and allies of Utah’s LGBT community gathered Tuesday evening on the south steps of the State Capitol to advocate for passage of antidiscrimination legislation proposed by Senator Steve Urquhart (Republican – St. George) and urge the State of Utah to cease an appeal of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s decision striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The “Rally for Equality” was planned and hosted by Bob Henline, an Assistant Editor at QSaltLake and former Utah Stonewall Democrats board member.
Speakers included Restore Our Humanity’s Mark Lawrence and Matt Spencer, as well as Marcy Taylor, one of the many LGBT Utahns whose marriage is now in limbo; and community activist and actor Charles Lynn Frost who held up a broom to symbolize that supporters must sweep away guilt and shame and not to be treated as second class citizens. Frost, who moonlights as the popular Sister Dottie S. Dixon, went on to excite the crowd by announcing that “troublemakers and rabble rousers, unite!”
“Public policy doesn’t dictate civil rights. Civil rights dictate public policy,” said Lawrence. “We’re not asking for special rights. We’re asking for human rights…Diversity is something not to fear.”
Meanwhile, a counter-rally took place nearby with supporters of Amendment 3 gathered an inside the Capitol rotunda. Speakers at the “Stand for Marriage” rally included Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage and Nicole Kay, president of Stand for the Family. State officials were also on hand including newly appointed Attorney General Sean Reyes (Republican), Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (Republican – Sandy) as well as Senator Stuart Reid (Republican – Ogden), and Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper).
Niederhauser, in a press conference earlier that day, told the media that the fate of Urquhart’s bill is far from sound, noting that the Reyes’ office informed him that the pending legal actions surrounding Amendment 3 may be jeopardized if the legislature passes legislation that either supports or changes the current policy. Niederhauser said that this action included so called “religious liberty” legislation being proposed by conservative lawmakers this session.
Reyes, for his part, said that the expected $2 million price tag was “well worth” the cost. Legislation is currently pending to create a marriage defense fund that would allow citizens to contribute to this expense.