Utah state troopers detained more than a dozen LGBT protesters blocking an entrance to a state Senate committee hearing Monday.
The crowd was demanding its representatives hear a bill outlawing discrimination against gay people in employment and housing. KUTV was at the capitol.
“When the protesters who were peaceful did not budge the legislative attorney came out to warn them, they would be arrested and charged with a felony. Highway patrol troopers made the arrest.” (Via KUTV)
The anti-discrimination proposal — Senate Bill 100 — has been struck down by the Utah legislature six times in the past five years. That includes last week when Senate Republicans voted in a closed-door meeting not to consider it.
The protesters were trying to get the attention of Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, who could offer the bill a hearing. However in a press conference he said any bill dealing with LGBT issues will not be considered until senators resolved the legal battle with Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.
"We don't know the environment that we are going to be addressing these long-term issues in this state until we have our appeal adjudicated... ” (Via KTVX)
Last December, Utah temporarily became the 18th state to legalize gay marriage when a federal judge ruled the state ban on same-sex nuptials was unconstitutional.
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed the decision in a personal message. Utah’s government has appealed to the Supreme Court, but not before 1,400 same-sex couples were legally married.
“I support political involvement. Here, this is a peaceful demonstration, let me make sure it stays peaceful!” (Via KSTU)
That’s the bill’s sponsor, Senator Steve Urquhart talking with KSTU.
He offered the protesters a compromise: asking for a caucus meeting, a town hall meeting, or a closed-door session with Senator Niederhauser, but the crowd refused.
Though threatened with a felony, The Salt Lake Tribune reports the 13 people were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor, and disturbing a public meeting, a class B misdemeanor. The protesters were released a few hours later.