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