The public response of Rep. Tammy Rowan, R-Orem, to the Human Rights March and Rally that took place on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 18, at the Capitol is offensive to the participants and the esteemed community leaders who spoke at the rally.

Ms. Rowan states that rally participants did not reflect average Utahns, who on a Sunday afternoon would not be found "rallying at the Capitol" but instead spending time with their families and attending church services. Her statement is representative of a lack of cultural sensitivity and tolerance and the ethnocentricity that drives support for House Bill 189. Rep. Rowan also stated that she was not "invited" to attend the rally.Each of the state representatives was notified about the rally, including the program of speakers. Rep. Rowan herself made reference to the rally the Thursday evening preceding the event, during her UVSC debate with Professor Larry Echohawk. Curiously, other legislators who were not scheduled to speak during the program, such as Rep. Duane Bourdeaux, Rep. Judy Ann Buffmire, Rep. Steve Garth and Rep. Mary Carlson, found their way to the event. But regardless of her absence at the Capitol on Sunday, Rep. Rowan still managed to impact the hundreds of participants by questioning their commitment to their families and their moral character.

Had Rep. Rowan attended the event, she would have seen many individuals, along with many families who together engaged in a plea for justice by bringing attention to this legislation, which is inherently discriminatory in nature. Tammy Rowan states that average Utahn spends Sunday afternoons with their families. Hundreds of rally participants attended with their families. Tammy Rowan states that average Utahns spend Sundays in church services. Many rally participants arrived following their church services.

At any rate, I find it hard to believe that those who participated in Sunday's activities felt that doing so jeopardized their spirituality or family unity in any way. Does Rep. Rowan intend to imply that those who do not "appear to be attending church or spending time with their families" are not representative of citizens worthy of justice?

Do those who represent diversity in culture, religion and language deserve legislation that disenfranchises them based upon their difference? Do we really want to welcome the world in 2002 to a Utah that discriminates against its own citizens? Do we really need this legislation?

Yvonne Paul

Bilingual regional organizer J.E.D.I. for Women

Salt Lake City