Utah Governor Gary Herbert met with two
gay rights groups on Tuesday, the AP reported.
It is the first time Herbert has spoken
to the groups since publicly declaring he opposes legislation that
would make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgender
“Where do you stop? That's the
problem going down that slippery road. Pretty soon we're going to
have a special law for blue-eyed blondes. We don't have to have a
rule for everyone to do the right thing. We ought to just do the
right thing because it's the right thing to do and we don't have to
have a law that punishes us if we don't,” Herbert told reporters
during his first monthly KUED news conference in August.
Utah and the Foundation
for Reconciliation requested to meet with the governor after he
delivered his remarks.
The groups say the governor is against
discrimination and willing to discuss options.
“Fundamentally, he agrees that
discrimination is a problem. We're coming at this from how to solve
a problem we agree on. That's a great place to begin,” Will
Carlson, public policy director for Equality Utah, told the news
Herbert, who ascended to the governor's
mansion after President Obama tapped Governor Jon Huntsman as
Ambassador to China, initially made his remarks in response to a
proposed gay protections bill in Salt Lake City. Huntsman backed a
failed effort last year to extend some rights to gay men and lesbians
in the state.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is
backing the gay protections bill. Becker said a July report by the
Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission that said discrimination in
the city remains a problem convinced him to support the bill.
Anti-gay State Senator Chris Buttars, a
Republican from West Jordan, has pledged to block the effort.
“I don't think the discrimination
they scream about is really real,” Buttars told Salt Lake
City-based KCPW radio. “I'm watching that to see what they try to
do, and if they keep pushing it, then I will bring a bill about it.”
Herbert insists he's opposed to
discrimination, and both groups described him as welcoming and open.
“He is not, obviously, in favor of
any discrimination of any group,” Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for
the governor, said in a statement Tuesday. “The question he has
is: Should government intervene in that situation and in what way?
It's not a secret to anyone that Governor Herbert tends to favor
limited government in all cases.”