Some Utahns are displeased that Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, voted against legislation that would have required members of Congress to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day.
Carrying signs proclaiming, "I love my flag," "Wake up, Wayne" and "Demand Wayne Owens resign," about two dozen protesters chanted and marched Saturday outside the Federal Building on First South and State Street."It's pretty blatantly offensive. He (Owens) must have been asleep," said Frances Merrill of Salt Lake City. "If people knew something about it, they'd do something and hopefully they will in November."
Organizer Don Choquette said he objects to Owens' vote and contends the 2nd District Democrat cast a vote against the proposal because of the congressman's allegiance with presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.
The House will recite the Pledge of Allegiance twice next week under a plan pushed by Democrats after killing a Republican proposal to open each day's business with the pledge.
Rep. John Rowland, R-Conn., using one of GOP nominee George Bush's frequent campaign themes, started it all Friday with a resolution calling for a daily recitation of the pledge.
Rowland was eventually ruled out of order and House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, took to the floor to defend the parliamentary ruling and accused the GOP of playing politics with the pledge.
Lest the Democrats be perceived as anti-pledge, however, Wright said he would ask Reps. Sonny Montgomery, D-Miss., chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., to lead the pledge on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
"Wayne is in favor of the Pledge of Allegiance in the House or anywhere else, but is disappointed that the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotism has become a political issue," said Owens' press secretary Art Kingdom on Saturday.
The House rules already allow the pledge to be recited, Kingdom said, and House Speaker Wright's objections to the motion were based on Rowland's failure to follow parliamentary procedure.
Protest organizers in Salt Lake City handed out press releases that appeared to be designed to be used at similar rallies. The releases had a blank where the name of a congressman could be written in, and the Salt Lakers had written in Owens' name.