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'Party' at Capitol protests Buttars

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 1:46 a.m. MDT

Kent Scadlock, center, and Terri Lorz join several hundred others at Buttars-palooza at the state Capitol on Saturday. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Kent Scadlock, center, and Terri Lorz join several hundred others at Buttars-palooza at the state Capitol on Saturday. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Buttars-palooza was the biggest "party" on Capitol Hill on Saturday.

There was a DJ and a crew of breakdancers and a few Latin drag queens.

Bonnie Owens offered the toast to Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan.

"The time for change is upon us," said Owens, who is transgender.

Buttars, reached by phone Saturday, said he didn't know anything about the event and had no comment.

The West Jordan legislator has come under fire from some for calling the gay-rights movement "the greatest threat to America." Some called for his resignation. On Saturday, however, speakers thanked Buttars for galvanizing their movement.

"We're all here to celebrate Chris Buttars," Robert Bentley said. "Viva la Buttars. You have brought us together more than 100 rallies could."

The crowd of 300 or so cheered and waved rainbow flags.

"We are all here as part of something larger, something that is a little bit more threatening to Chris Buttars than the gay-rights movement," said Araveni Olivares, a local activist. "We are part of a lasting movement for civil rights and social justice."

In calling the gay rights movement the nation's biggest "threat," Bentley said Buttars glossed over some other areas of concern: climate change, the current fiscal crisis and racial inequality, to name a few.

Buttars was not the only Capitol Hill player to receive criticism Saturday. Democracy in the state is "sick," said HEAL Utah's Vanessa Pierce, "fed poison pills by people like (Eagle Forum president) Gayle Ruzicka and the far right."

Michael Mueller, the event's organizer, called it a "party," a celebration of diversity.

A man handed out Buttars T-shirts, and a blues band performed. There was dancing on the steps of the Capitol.

"Don't think for a second this party is over," Mueller said.

Contributing: Clayton Norlen

E-mail: afalk@desnews.com

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