Jury Trial of Three Gay Catholics Arrested at Bishops’ Conference Begins January 24

Could face up to 6 months in jail and $350 in fines

Soulforce Press Release: January 16, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Washington, DC) – The jury trial begins January 24, 2003 in Washington, D.C. for three gay Catholics who were arrested in November at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Kara Speltz (Oakland, CA), Ken Einhaus (Arlington, VA), and Mike Perez (Seattle, WA), were charged with the crime of "unlawful entry" a criminal misdemeanor, after allegedly refusing to obey the order by the District of Columbia police to leave the hotel. The three had entered the lobby of the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill at 11:30 a.m. on November 12, 2002 to ask any bishop present to serve them the Eucharist. They had all been denied the Eucharist the night before during the Bishops’ Mass at the National Shrine for no apparent reason. All three are lifelong Catholics.

While in the lobby filled with priests and bishops, no one came forward to offer Kara, Ken, and Mike the Eucharist and they were handcuffed, led away to jail, and spent all night and the next day in the D.C. Jail.

"It still brings tears to my eyes when I recall this rejection," said Kara Speltz, Catholic Co-Chair of Soulforce. "The irony is that I am a Eucharistic minister who serves other people the Eucharist, and yet the church denied me what I hold most dear about my Catholic faith. Even more ironic is that I face more time in jail for asking for what should have been freely given to me – and is indeed required of me – as a faithful Catholic."

Kara, Ken, and Mike were all in Washington D.C with Soulforce, a national movement committed to ending spiritual violence committed by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce was at the Conference of Catholic Bishops for the third year in a row to protest of the churches anti-gay policies and teachings, and exercise their Constitutional rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

This trial by jury is taking place at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2003, at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, (Moultrie Courthouse), at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W. The trial will be in Courtroom 211, on the second floor, before the Honorable Judge Robert Rigsby. The charge of unlawful entry carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and fines of up to $350.

MEDIA: Media are welcome in the courtroom, and pictures can be taken outside after the precedings. Press packets containing pictures and additional information are available by calling 717-278-0592.

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

For more information, see www.soulforce.org

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