Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker introduced proposed legislation that includes gay protections on Friday.

Becker, a Democrat, is backing two ordinances that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of employment and housing.

“With this proposed ordinance, Salt Lake City makes clear that everyone is welcome in our community and discrimination in housing and employment is unacceptable,” Becker said in a statement. “This recommended change provides for clear processes to assess whether discrimination has taken place and gives the renter and the landlord, the employer and employee a pathway of resolution.”

If approved by the city council, Salt Lake City would become the first city in Utah to approve gay protections, a move the Utah Legislature refused to do earlier this year.

Religious organization would be exempted under Becker's resolution, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), which owns retail and housing projects in the city.

Lawmakers opposed to gay rights threatened to block the law when Becker first began circulating a public discussion draft in July.

“I don't think the discrimination they scream about is really real,” conservative State Senator Chris Buttars, a Republican from West Jordan, 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.”

Governor Gary Herbert agreed, saying the measure would put the city on a “slippery road.”

“Where are you going to stop? I mean that's the problem going down that slippery road. Pretty soon we're going to have a special law for blue-eyed blondes … or people who are losing their hair a little bit,” Herbert, a Republican, said. “There's some support for about anything we put out there. I'm just saying we end up getting bogged down sometimes with the minutiae of things that government has really no role to be involved in.”

After his remarks, gay rights groups met with Herbert, who agreed discrimination was wrong, but was not swayed to alter his opposition to the measure. Becker and Herbert will attend a public meeting together on Tuesday, October 13.

On Friday, State Representative Carl Wimmer, chairman of the Utah Family Action Council, said he would back a state intervention to block or overturn the measure.

“I would obviously keep that door open,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.