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LGBT community rallies for anti-discrimination laws

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue | Posted - Mar. 1, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the lesbian, gay and transgender community and their supporters rallied in boisterous fashion Wednesday at Utah's Capitol Hill, asserting the time is long overdue for Utah lawmakers to put statewide anti-discrimination protections in place.

Carrying a wide variety of signs sporting strong messages such as "Enough is Enough," the crowd milled around the building's rotunda in advance of a rally demonstrating their prolonged commitment to political change in Utah.

"It's appropriate and fair" for Utah lawmakers to support such anti- discrimination legislation, but the measures repeatedly have never made it past a committee, giving rise to Wednesday's rally, said Bob Tuttle.

Tuttle was among those at the protest wearing a sticky-note on his chest proclaiming a certain brand of sexual affinity.

For one of the organizers, Megan Risbon, her identifier said "STR8, but not narrow."

Risbon said the late-session event was organized as a spontaneous reaction after a group of people were sitting around, bemoaning Utah lawmakers' lack of action on legislation that would ensure non- discriminatory practices against people for adult and consenting sexual relationships.

We're tired of the bullying.

–- Megan Risbon

"We're tired of the bullying," she said, especially after both she and Tuttle pointed to support by the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and action by several Utah cities and counties.

This year's lack of action centered on a legislative proposal, SB51, sponsored by Sen. Ben McAdams, D-Salt Lake, that was tabled in a committee hearing in early February.

Although McAdams had sponsored the legislation for four consecutive years, this year was the first year the measure actually was vetted for the public to give testimony. The measure would have afforded protections against losing a job or housing due to sexual orientation.

Tuttle says such animosity toward a benign measure that has received local endorsement in Utah from 14 cities and counties is aggravating.

"This said it is not OK to deny housing if you're suspected of being gay."

The measure, however, stoked opposition from ultra-conservative groups like the Utah Eagle Forum that asserted community standards should be left up to individual communities.


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