Faithful Gay Catholics Arrested at Bishops’ Conference Released After 30 Hours in Jail

Soulforce Press Release: November 13, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Washington, DC) – Three gay Catholics who were arrested in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. the morning of November 12th were released this evening after spending 30 hours in jail and agreeing to stay away from the Hyatt.

Kara Speltz (Oakland, CA), Ken Einhaus (Arlington, VA), and Mike Perez (Seattle, WA), all lifelong Catholics and supporters of Soulforce, were released on their own recognizance after pleading not guilty to charges of unlawful entry. All three will have to return to Washington for a November 21 status hearing to set a trial date.

Although a hotel is usually considered a public accommodation, they were arrested by D.C. Metro Police and charged with unlawful entry while kneeling in the Hyatt lobby during the annual United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The three were requesting to be served the Eucharist.

Kara, Ken, and Mike had been denied Eucharist at Monday night’s Bishops’ Mass at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. without explanation or just cause. On Tuesday morning, November 12, they entered the lobby of the Hyatt Regency at 11:30 a.m. and were surrounded by friends from Soulforce and Dignity USA. Rev. Mel White, director of Soulforce, Inc., stood in the lobby with them and asked, "is there not one bishop with the courage to feed your flock and comfort God’s children?"

No bishops came forward to offer Kara, Ken, and Mike the Eucharist and they were handcuffed and led away after refusing to obey the order by D.C. Metro Police to leave the hotel.

The civil disobedience that led to their arrests would not have taken place had the three been given the Eucharist the night before at the Bishops’ Mass. Kara, a 65 year old grandmother who has been arrested over a dozen times for civil disobedience related charges, had never been denied the Eucharist until Monday night.

"There were no mattresses, no blankets, no pillows, and very little to eat," said Kara Speltz, Catholic co-chair of Soulforce. "It was the hardest jail time I ever served."

Soulforce is in Washington D.C. during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the third year in a row to protest the spiritual violence caused by Roman Catholic teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Soulforce, Inc. is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce teaches and employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual minorities.

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