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Scores Protest Assaults on 3 Utah Gay Men

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SALT LAKE CITY – The sister of a man who was injured in the latest attack against gay men says it is “intolerable to treat someone as less than precious and valuable.”

Marnie Nelson Bales, of Tooele, said her membership in the Mormon group of Latter Day Saints doesn’t keep her from being faithful to her brother.

“I’m LDS. My family is LDS,” she said. “And you know, it doesn’t matter. He’s my brother. We love him.”

Her brother, Cameron Nelson, wants to see an end to the violence, she told the estimated 100 to 200 people who attended the event to protest the assaults. Bales spoke Friday night at a fireside vigil in the capital city’s Liberty Park, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Nelson was beaten early Thursday by two or three people yelling anti-gay slurs outside the American Fork hair salon where he works. He suffered a broken nose and other injuries.

The attack was the third such on gay Utah men in the last two weeks. Dane Hall, a victim of a beating at Club South in Salt Lake City two weeks ago, had his jaw broken in three places and six teeth knocked out. He thanked the crowd for their support, speaking through his wired-shut jaw.

“Thank you for coming out and supporting us,” Hall said. “I don’t know how to express myself, but just know that I am very thankful.” He has said he expects his medical bills to surpass $40,000, but he has no insurance.

A second gay man also was attacked near Club South the same night, but police do not believe the two incidents are related.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank shared a personal story about his cousin, a gay man who was a victim of domestic violence on multiple occasions but wouldn’t report the violence for fear of others finding out about his sexual orientation.

He told the crowd that it’s important to involve police when violence takes place. Police handed out cards that detail how the public can submit confidential tips to detectives.

“We have people in our community who still cannot come forward because of the stigma that may be attached to them,” Burbank said. “Any crime represents a failure of our society, especially a crime like this.”

The nondenominational church City of Hope Salt Lake organized the event, which ended with participants marching with glow sticks through the streets of Salt Lake City and showing pictures of Hall’s injuries.

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