Utah's gay community wants the state's office holders to realize it has a collective voice totaling 50,000 residents.
At a rally Tuesday in front of the Federal Building at State Street and First South, about two dozen activists marched, heard speeches and chanted for the downfall of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah."This is what we've got to do to stand tall and overcome oppression. We need to stand tall and overcome Sen. Orrin Hatch," said Mason Rankin, rally organizer and member of the Committee for the Preservation of Individual Rights.
Hatch, who is up for re-election next month, said in a September speech in St. George that the Democratic Party is the party of homosexuals. Leaders in Utah's homosexual community called for an apology, which the Republican senator has not yet offered.
"Let's void the oppression. Let's void Orrin," Rankin told the crowd, who cheered and held up signs saying, `Remember the Gay Vote.'
Rankin said he sent three letters to Hatch - the senator's Washington office, Salt Lake campaign headquarters and his parents' home, requesting his attendance. No response was received.
"We are patriotic citizens. We are this country's doctors. We are this country's lawyers," said Rankin, adding, "There's no bigger closet in the world than the voting booth. And Orrin better remember that."
The rally celebrated a march of about 750,000 gays in Washington, D.C., and marked "National Coming Out Day," which encourages homosexuals to admit to their families and friends their sexual preferences.
"In Utah, we sometimes get the feeling that nobody knows we're here. We don't seem to have a very high profile," said Val John Mansfield, who was among the marchers last year in the nation's capitol.
Only three representatives of office holders attended the rally, including senatorial candidate Brian Moss' spokeswoman. Rankin read letters from Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Gov. Norm Bangerter expressing regrets at being unable to attend the rally.