An historic law that protects gay,
lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in Salt Lake City
went into effect on Friday.
Gay rights advocates and city officials
joined Mayor Ralph Becker at City Hall to celebrate the ordinances'
“These ordinances demonstrate our
determination to foster an environment of good will and acceptance
welcoming every member of the community as an integral part of our
Great American City,” Becker said in a statement. “Everyone in
Salt Lake City will benefit from the protections these ordinances
Becker, a Democrat, introduced in
October the two ordinances that make it illegal to discriminate based
on sexual orientation or gender identity (transgender protections) in
the areas of employment and housing. At the time, passage appeared
iffy as socially conservative state lawmakers and Governor Gary
Herbert, a Republican, denounced the measures.
“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.”
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.”
But an eleventh-hour endorsement from
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) sealed
the deal and appears to have subdued opposition.
supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do
not do violence to the institution of marriage,” spokesman Michael
Otterson told city leaders before they unanimously approved the
Gay activists who
continue to blast the church for its role in approving Proposition 8,
the 2008 voter-approved ballot initiative that outlawed gay marriage
in California, were left stunned.
In approving the
law, Salt Lake City became the first city in Utah to ban such
discrimination, a move the Utah Legislature has refused to do.
lawmakers at first threatened to take down the law, but eventually
agreed to put gay rights legislation – both for and against – on
the back burner for a year. Under the plan announced in early March,
Democrats agreed to drop three previously publicized pro-gay bills in
exchange for a promise from opponents not to attempt to prevent local
governments from approving similar measures.
the state's largest gay rights advocate, has since launched Ten in
2010, with the goal of adding 10 more cities or counties to the list
of municipalities with such protections in place.