LGBT community: time to take a stand

CHR03192014A04 Colby Patterson
Grey Leman

Grey Leman

Within the past few months, progression, regression and stagnation occurred within Utah’s LGBT community, as marriage equality was legalized and then put on stay. SB 100, seeking to amend the state’s non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, was placed under a moratorium and then, recently, was read in the Senate Rules Committee. Alongside this, applications of couples seeking to adopt children or to have legal joint custody of their children through the adoption process have been denied. Throughout this entire process, hate and ignorance continued to blast throughout media, churches and events, not only from within the state but from outside as well. The National Organization for Marriage sent their president, Brian Brown, to speak at an event in at the Utah State Capitol. They claim biology is not discrimination, it is only biology, and the Bible tells us marriage is between one man and one woman, and the best environment and upbringing for a child is in a home that includes a husband and a wife.

Throughout this, queers have refused to stand by in silence. For decades, the queer community has fought for equity within every institution and have been denied for reasons of “morality.” While no one should ever have to ask for basic human rights, for decades the queer community has had to beg on their hands and knees. A right is a right. A right is not something you take or give based off trust or proving worthiness — that is a privilege. The right to enter a relationship with the one you love is not a privilege. The right to create a family, including adopting children, is not a privilege. Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home and place of work. For too long, heterosexuals and a heterosexist nation have said being queer is lesser, revolting and unworthy.

Queers in Utah are taking a stand against this injustice by protesting at the state capitol. On Jan. 27, a group of protestors, including the Bad Kids drag troupe, counter-protested NOM’s “traditional” marriage rally, glitter-bombing them and shouting, “Equality now!” Within minutes, they were removed by police, as there were several police with police dogs guarding their event. Just over two weeks ago, 13 individuals blocked the Senate doors, demanding that SB 100 be heard. All 13 were arrested and charged. Activist Troy Williams declared, “Our community has been under assault at the Utah Legislature for years. What we did was in defense of ourselves and our community.” On Feb. 27, 46 activists in Idaho were led out of their state capitol in shackles into buses waiting to take them to jail for demanding that laws be made to protect LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination. Earlier this year, they were led out of the capitol as well for blocking the Senate doors and making the same demands.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, many disagree with these forms of protests, including State Sen. Stephen Urquhart (R-St. George), claiming energy would be better served in conversations. While conversations are a nice way to educate people, they are not a great way to claim rights. The saddest part of it all is that these individuals are being arrested for expressing their First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. The actions taken by these activists may disrupt other protests, and they may disrupt the system, but they are in no way violent or harmful. It is not time to sit and ask. It is time to fight and demand.