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Group storms Capitol for 'Buttars-Palooza'

Published February 28, 2009 6:15 pm

Festival » Held in reaction to Buttars' anti-gay comments.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More than a thousand people converged on the Utah Capitol on Saturday, not for legislative protest, but to party.

Couples, families and individuals danced on the south lawn to live music at "Buttars-Palooza," a festival meant to exploit the audacity of Utah Sen. Chris Buttars' now-famous comments about gays.

Saying that the Republican senators' comments comparing gay activists to Islamic extremists were so ridiculous that they didn't even rate protest, many revelers simply chose to respond in jest.

"I thought about not even coming today," deadpanned Jude McNeil, looking across the crowd of peaceful partiers. "I know I'm risking my life, but hey, I'm here."

Jennilynn Peterson said she brought her toddler son to the party in express defiance of the idea that gay activists were somehow dangerous. "I think it's a great thing for him to experience," said Peterson, a resident of Bountiful. "I'm not going to hide the world from him."

Peterson, who grew up in Utah, said she resented how Buttars' comments might be interpreted outside of the Beehive State. "He doesn't speak for Utah," she said. "I really hate that all over the United States, people think we're all like him. We're not."

Saturday's festival comes following statements Buttars made to a documentary filmmaker in which he compared homosexuals to radical Muslims, called them the greatest internal threat to America and said they had no morals.

Tobin Atkinson, a former member of the Army's First Infantry Division, said Buttar's words don't just reflect badly on Utahns, but all Americans.

"The greatest threat to America? I find that offensive," said Atkinson, a veteran of the Iraq war. "It's really revolting, and it's not what I signed up to defend."

Atkinson's wife, Marynell Hinton, noted Buttars' lack of military service, saying: "for someone to say this is the greatest threat to America is clearly not someone who has ever faced an actual threat in his life."

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