Advocacy Group Protests at Lawmakers' Homes

Advocacy Group Protests at Lawmakers' Homes

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Richard Piatt reporting A group went door to door this morning, not to spread Christmas cheer, but to make a point.

The advocacy group knocked on the door of lawmakers to push for a change in child custody cases.

The group approached a surprised and shocked State Senator Patrice Arent with pictures and a flyer as she was pulling out of her driveway.

Arent's neighborhood was stop number one in a pre-planned tour of legislator's homes and neighborhoods.

'Accountability Utah' is sponsoring this unusual--and to some untimely--push for parental rights.

Larger parental rights issues are demanding attention from an active, but relatively small group, because of the Parker Jensen case.

Last summer, the State Division of Child and Family Services threatened to remove Parker from his parents, after they refused to begin chemotherapy treatments for the boy.

Several doctors have diagnosed Parker with the deadly cancer Ewing's Sarcoma.

The case has been a rallying cry for other families who claim the state has disrupted their families unjustly.

Dave Hansen/Accountability Utah: "This is 10,000 time worse than the Grinch stealing Christmas. This is people stealing our children. They don't have their children on Christmas because of legislators."

Yet in the Legislature, at least 50 bills are proposed, specifically dealing with parental rights, waiting for the upcoming session.

In the neighborhood of yet another legislator, the group marched up the front steps.

Kimball Halliday/Accountability Utah: "Due to her atrocious record on family rights and her votes to keep secret jurisdictional juvenile courts." "What was her response?" "Merry Christmas."

The Christmas Day surprise political protest was seen as distasteful and inappropriate by many neighbors and legislative targets alike.

Rep. Pat Jones/(D) Holladay: "Today's a special day for everybody. And I think it's a shame that they would use Christmas day to make a political statement that doesn't make any sense to me."

This protest was an effort fueled by emotion and frustration, an attempt to spark change.

But it will more likely be remembered as an unpleasant aspect of Christmas 2003 for the officials who unknowlingly answered their door.

Yesterday, Republican party officials gave GOP lawmakers a heads up about the protest planned for today. In fact, the protest targeted mostly Democrat lawmakers who were not warned.

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