LGBT activists not giving up fight for stalled bill

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The LGBT activists arrested last month in a protest for an anti-discrimination bill were back on Capitol Hill Wednesday. This time they brought 200 of their friends.

Even though there are only seven days left of the legislative session, the activists are not giving up their fight to get Senate Bill 100 heard. The bill would protect Utahns from employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“These are not their rights to give us, they being the people in power, they are our rights to claim for ourselves,” said Matthew Landis, a LGBT activist.

Behind the microphone were the so-called “Capitol 13”, the activists arrested Feb. 10 after blocking a senate committee room. They said it was a last resort after years of falling on deaf ears and lawmakers refusing to take up the issue.

“Many of our legislators hold their allegiances to the forces of fear, bigotry and the misinformation of the LGBT community,” said Gail Turpin, a LGBT activist.

Since then, Senator and Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, organized an emotional meeting between lawmakers and LGBT supporters. But the bill remains stalled.

“Although it's frustrating and long and hard we need to be patient with our legislators, they are making progress,” said Sen. Dabakis. They are at break-neck speed as far as they’re concerned.”

But lawmakers' pace isn't fast enough, according to those who fear discrimination. Even though their chance for passage this session may be dwindling, they say they're not going away.

“We're going to be a constant presence on Capitol Hill, we are part of the social fabric of this state now and we're not going back in the closet,” said Troy Williams, LGBT activist.

ABC 4 Utah did not receive a comment from the president of the senate by news time, but Sen. Wayne Neiderhauser, R-Salt Lake City, has said in the past he wants to wait to take up the anti-discrimination bill until a court decides the future of same sex marriage in Utah.

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