by Troy Williams
We were arrested, strip searched, finger-printed, booked and ordered to appear to Justice Court on Feb. 24th. The Capitol 13 arrived early Monday morning, all sharply dressed, ready to plead “not guilty”. And we would have had the State Troopers actually filed the necessary paper work.
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. We are tentatively scheduled to return to court in 30 days, where we will again hear the charges against us and make our plea.
Until then, it is critical that the Legislature know that we are not going away. We are planning another big rally at the Capitol on March 5th at 12:30 and we want you to be there to raise your voice. We need to restore democracy in Utah. You don’t need to get arrested to make a stand. You just need to take a stand. 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.
Details are coming soon!
Here is the Tribune coverage of today.
And here is the copy of my speech this morning:
The basis of our government is to allow for the voice of the people to be heard. We understand that with the give and take of any democracy, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. What we found to be unconscionable was the arrogant plot of the republican senate majority leaders who shut down any public input and through a closed door, star chamber meeting, made the decision to slam the door on any type of public hearing or process on SB 100.
These actions by our Republican Senate Majority leaders are clear evidence that the democratic process in Utah has failed. This is what led the 13 of us to follow a long, proud American heritage of peaceful, civil disobedience. We did what we did with the hope of making our state a better place to live and for that, we will never plead guilty.
The pioneers traveled thousands of miles to start a new life here in the beautiful valley. They fled their homes because state government failed to protect them. When they got here, they promised that all citizens of our new state should always be heard. One-hundred and nineteen years after “We the People” was written in our state constitution, the current Utah Legislature is breaking our founders’ promise.
The voices of Utah’s supermajority have been shut out. 72% of Utahans favor non-discrimination in housing and employment, but the legislature refuses to schedule any public hearing. Our democratic process failed us and we decided that our voices must be heard.
We are not guilty of disturbing the legislature because we were defending ourselves, defending our home, and defending the principles our great state was founded on. We stand here today to lay claim to the blessings of our nation – to claim the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is our birthright as Americans. We will never rest until every LGBT Utahan enjoys these protections.