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until Provo police asked them to get up and escorted them off campus. Each arrested marcher left a lily behind until a pile of flowers had accumulated as a memorial to young people who were unable to resolve the conflict their church had created between their sexuality and religion. BYU junior Matt Kulisch, a Mormon student who participated in the action, cited his faith as part of his motivation for being arrested with the Equality Riders. “My church has always taught me the principle of standing for something true. My integrity demanded this message of God’s love for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be told in its entirety.” Kulisch added, “Others have died because they did not receive this message. If I can’t put my life on the line in their memory then I’m not being who I should be.” “The fact that Matt and so many other students like him have come forward on this ride to stand with us as we bring a message of inclusion to these schools is really inspiring,” said Jacob Reitan, co-director of the Equality Ride. “The Ride is just the beginning of what we hope will be a youth movement sweeping the country, ending religion-based discrimination once and for all.” On Monday, April 10, five riders and supporters were arrested afRandi and Phil Reitan, Equality Riders and parents of co-director Jacob Reitan ter attempting to deliver speeches co-director. “It’s particularly fitting during on discrimination on the campus. Reitan the Christian Holy Week that we remember and his parents, Randi and Phil Reitan, those whose lives were not able to bloom as well as Equality Riders Diane Bedwell because of the despair they felt from their and Rebecca Solomon were arrested in the church’s teachings on homosexuality.” courtyard of the campus student center As the marchers reached the gates of the and later released without bail after signing campus, they stepped forward with their a summons. Bedwell and Solomon had atlilies as stories and names of the individutempted to read letters from closeted BYU als who had committed suicide were read students in front of a lunchtime crowd of aloud. The riders and students crossed students. The Reitan parents tried to speak onto campus one by one as the dead were about their experiences in raising a gay remembered, and lay down in the grass child. Jacob Reitan began a speech about


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Nine current and former BYU students and 15 Equality Riders were arrested April 11 on the campus of Brigham Young University for their part in a procession carrying Easter lilies onto the campus in remembrance of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have committed suicide because of the church’s oppressive stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members. “The lilies are symbolic of both life and death,” said Haven Herrin, Equality Ride

The crowd of protesters at Kiwanis Park in Provo


Dozens Arrested During ‘Equality Ride’ Protest at BYU

Soulforce Equality Ride Co-director Jacob Reitan being excorted from the Brigham Young University campus by campus security.

learning from the history of religion-based be making a public speech. discrimination. All were escorted off campus “It was truly remarkable,” said Equality before their public statements could be rider Jonathan Awtrey, “I don’t think we’ve completed. had crowds like this at any other school “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day where we weren’t openly welcome on camSaints at one time did not allow African pus. Many of the students wanted to know American members,” Jacob Reitan said after what they could do to make LGBT people his release. “Through the church’s belief feel safe and welcome at their school. in ‘continuing revelation,’ that shameful Several of them were concerned that their practice has ended. It is time for the LDS church’s message of love was being diluted [Church] to realize that their policies against by its anti-gay stance.” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “It’s clear the students were ready for people are also part of an unacceptable histhis discussion,” Awtrey added. “I wish the tory of religious discrimination.” administration had gotten the message.” The Riders and their supporters were The Soulforce Equality Ride is “a journey arrested because of stringent guidelines set to change the heart and mind of America down by the university in order to restrict dion the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and alogue during the Equality Ride stop. Equaltransgender equality,” according to organizity Riders were told they could not hand out ers. They are following in the footsteps of the literature, set up a display table or hold a formal presentation or speech. It was this last restriction that led to the arrest of the five Riders. “We will not accept limitations on this dialogue,” said Herrin. “There are countless LGBT Mormons who have committed suicide because of their church’s policies on sexuality and family. We’re here to tell their stories and make sure they didn’t die in vain.” Organizers released a statement prior to their visit that explained their reasons for visiting the school. “BYU’s student conduct policy prohibits LGBT students from attending the school. Students who are found to be LGBT face suspension or expulsion. In addition to this policy, the LDS Church has opposed the equality and dignity of LGBT people, in church and in society, with particular virulence. Gay and lesbian Mormons are often coerced into heterosexual marriages and dangerous and unproven ‘reparative therapy’ to attempt to change their sexual orientation. Despair caused by church policies has led to a high suicide rate among LGBT Mormons.” Equality riders that stayed within the school’s rigid guidelines car- Current and former BYU students and Soulforce Equality Riders wait with Easter lilies as ried out successful conversations names of those known to have committed suicide because they could not reconcile the teachings of the LDS Church with their being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. with hundreds of students. As the riders sat around tables fielding Freedom Rides of the 1960s using principles questions in the student center courtyard of non-violence to confront military and during a crowded lunch hour, University religious colleges and universities with poliadministrators and security officers wearcies banning enrollment of queer students. ing dark suits and earpieces milled around The Equality Ride now heads to Colorado in groups of two or three watching closely. to meet with students at Colorado Christian Single riders had to answer questions from University in Lakewood and the Air Force crowds as large as 25–30 students, carefully Academy in Colorado Springs. Q regulating their voices so as not to appear to

QSaltLake, April 15, 2006  

Congressman Barney Frank to speak at dinner for Utah Stonewall Democrats, Protesters Arrested at BYU, Spring Fashion Issue, Scalia: Gays Hav...

QSaltLake, April 15, 2006  

Congressman Barney Frank to speak at dinner for Utah Stonewall Democrats, Protesters Arrested at BYU, Spring Fashion Issue, Scalia: Gays Hav...