Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Last week, prosecutors in Salt Lake City, Utah filed misdemeanor charges against thirteen gay-rights activists. The protesters exercised their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and now they could be going to jail for one count each of disrupting a meeting or procession which carries a maximum six month sentence.
The activists were arrested in February after staging a sit-in, blocking access to the governor’s office and a Capitol meeting room. They hoped that by doing so the legislators would move on a bill that bans discrimination of LGBT people in housing and employment matters. The bill even exempted religious organizations.
Instead of accomplishing their goal (which 72% of Utahns support) they were jailed. Meanwhile the Republican dominated legislature once again delayed the bill.
There is something wrong when a group of concerned citizens are arrested and charged with a crime for exercising an unalienable right granted to them by the Constitution. I know that Republicans are used to cherry picking which laws they follow, but this is the Constitution we are talking about, not the Bible.
The prosecutors in Utah obviously need a constitutional rights refresher course. I’m singling out Utah right now, but this is a widespread problem. Every time (except when it’s the Tea Party, of course) a group of citizens stand up and tries to fight for what they believe in, we see people taken to jail. Is this really America? What happened to freedom?
What do we have if we do not have the right to redress our grievances with the government? Why even bother with a Constitution if our rights are going to be denied?
As for Republicans, isn’t it ironic that the party who ‘worships’ our Constitution ignores it for political gain most of the time?