'Capitol 13' addresses charges for equal rights

Published 08/28 2014 10:45AM

Updated 08/28 2014 01:09PM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The 'Capitol 13' was formally charged Wednesday with class B misdemeanors for blocking legislation back on February 10, 2014.

The individuals blocked a committee hearing in order to have legislators hear Senate Bill 100.

Senate Bill 100 was drafted to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.

The charges could leave the group with some hefty fines and the possibility of jail time. It took the state nearly 6 months to charge the 13 people that were arrested.

On Thursday, the Capitol 13 held a press conference at the very place they were arrested.

"It was gay people, lesbians, straight allies, active Mormons all locked arms together and said we will not move," said Troy Williams, who was arrested with the Capitol 13. "We stand united to make sure all Utahns have a shot at the American dream."

The group blocked legislation efforts as civil rights activist trying to make their claims heard.

"The legislators themselves have actively disrupted the democratic process. For 5 years we have come to the legislation with a similar bill. For 5 years we have lobbied, sent emails, had town hall meetings, protested and rallied. We have done everything right. But every single year our legislators block us. They kill the bill," says Williams.

It is a fight not to be mixed up with Amendment 3, that deals with same sex marriage. But this is a reason the group felt it took so long to charge them.

"Everywhere we go all of us, all these young kids would come up to us and say thank you so much for taking a stand for me. And that has happened for the last 6 months," Williams added.

That is the strength that the group is using to contribute to Utah as they seek equal rights.

"We all want to go to a job and not be fired because we are a little bit different or be evicted from our house. We want to contribute back," says Williams. "Gay and transgender Utahns still have to go to work. They still have to have a place to live. We can't wait for possibly years for this amendment 3 legal battle to work itself out. We need these protections now."

A new bill is in the works for this upcoming legislative session to address these issues again in 2015.

"I don't want to shut down the legislator ever, okay. I don't want our legislators to shut down democracy. I don’t' want them to shut us out of the democratic process. I want to work side by side with our legislators."

Good 4 Utah has reached out to the Attorney General's office for a comment on this ongoing legal issue but they have not returned our calls.

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