This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
More than 200 people attended a fireside vigil on Friday evening to protest three assaults against gay men that have been reported in the past two weeks in Salt Lake City and American Fork.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said police rely on the community to come forward when they witness or are victims of crimes. He cautioned against labeling the assaults, which are still being investigated, as hate crimes.
"Any crime represents a failure of our society, especially a crime like this. And [that's] not because of who he is or what he believes or the color of his skin but the fact that he's one of us, he's a member of our community," Burbank said at Salt Lake City's Liberty Park.
City of Hope Salt Lake, a nondenominational church, organized the event, which drew members of diverse faiths from American Humanists to Mormons to call for greater acceptance of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
Marnie Nelson Bales of Tooele said her brother Cameron Nelson, who, on Thursday, was the victim of the most recent assault, has been a "ray of sunshine" from the day he was born. But she always knew he was different and she was not surprised when he came out as gay at age 16.
"I'm LDS. My family is LDS. And you know, it doesn't matter. He's my brother. We love him," Bales said. "It's intolerable to treat someone as less than precious and valuable."
Her brother, in a report he made to police, said he was taking the garbage out early Thursday morning at the American Fork hair salon where he works when he was beaten by two or three people yelling anti-gay slurs. He suffered a broken nose and other injuries.
Dane Hall, who was "curb checked" after leaving a gay-themed night at Club Sound in Salt Lake City two weeks ago, attended the vigil. His assailants shattered his cheek bone and broke his jaw. Thousands of dollars have been donated to help pay for Hall's medical bills, which he has said surpass $40,000 because he does not have insurance.
"Thank you for coming out and supporting us," Hall said, through his wired-shut jaw. "I don't know how to express myself but just know that I am very thankful."
In response, some in the audience called out, "love you."