Monday, 26 September 2011

Underwear-clad Activists Protest Utah Morality Laws

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Activists protesting Utah's opposition to same-sex "marriage" (and other statutes dealing with moral issues) have found an effective way to garner public attention: stripping down to their underwear and running through the streets of Salt Lake City. Nate Porter, who planned the so-called Undie Run, said the goal of the event was to organize those frustrated by what he dubbed "uptight" laws in Utah.

He continued, "My goal is to change Utah. To make this state lighten up once and for all. I’m trying to draw people in that are jaded by [the state's] politics.”

According to the Undie Run website, residents of Utah are boring and uptight, and it is the job of the protesters to change that. The site states,

We want each group of friends to come with there [sic] own specific demands written all over your body/undies/signs. Be creative. Get your friends to come with matching undies and help protest for your particular issues. Help us get the message out that Utah needs to lighten up. The Beauty of this event is that it's for you [to] decide. If you check the comments below you will see many voicing there [sic] opinions in many areas that Utah needs to simply lighten up on.

According to the organizers, however, there is more to the demonstration than simply parading around in one’s underwear:

And yes this will be a Rally Party for people to understand the importance of Voting[.] [A]s much fun as running in your Undies may be and how it will show us that we are not alone in our frustration with Utah[,] the real change happens at the Voting Booths. So we are setting up a voter registration booth. [O]ur Goal is to register 3,000 New young voters[.] [I]t's time to get involved. Our Goal is to light a fire under the younger generation[']s ass so they understand that there [sic] voice can be heard and is important.

About 3,000 runners began in downtown Salt Lake City and circled the state Capitol building about a mile away.

The Blaze reports,

Nudity was prohibited by organizers. Participants donned bras, panties, nightgowns, swimwear or colorful boxer shorts — and some added political messages by expressing support for causes like gay marriage on their chests, backs or legs.

Organizers asked protesters not to show up at the event intoxicated or under the influence of any drug, so as not to garner negative attention from onlookers or the media.

Salt Lake City is the home of the Mormon church, which has been adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage. Demonstrators seemed interested in needling the church’s conservatism by appearing scantily clad and covering themselves in messages diametrically opposed to the church's doctrine.

One demonstrator contends it was about more than that. “This is all about peace, love and supporting equal rights for LDS [Latter-Day Saints], non-LDS, gay, straight, doesn’t matter,” said Lisa Jackman.

Whether such messages were perceived, however, is debatable. Another participant, Kevin Norton, commented that he wasn't really interested in the protest slogans or the reason for the run: “I see a lot of political messages maybe, but honestly, I’m just here to have a lot of fun. I don’t look at this stuff. I don’t pay attention to it.”

Photo:  People prepare to run in their underwear from the Gallivan Center to the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 24, 2011: AP Images

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