Today HRC welcomed a proposed Utah non-discrimination bill that extends employment and housing non-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.”
The introduction of the bill, with support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the culmination of seven years of unstinting work by Equality Utah to protect all state residents from discrimination at work and at home. The legislation, S.B. 296, whose negotiators included Equality Utah Chairman Clifford Rosky, goes to its first hearing tomorrow. It contains these consequential provisions:
- Employers would be prohibited from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,
- All individuals would be afforded the same free-speech protections in their private lives and could not be fired for either supporting or opposing marriage equality,
- Landlords and property owners would be prohibited from discriminating against people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation,
- No religious exemptions from the non-discrimination provisions would be allowed for individuals or for-profit businesses.
“This is an exciting moment in Utah history,” said Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah. “Today, we prove the protections for LGBT Utahns can stand alongside protections for people of faith. One need not harm the other. the legislation we have crafted is a win-win for everyone who lives in this state.”
If legislators approve the measure during these closing days of their session, Utah would join 21 states and the District of Columbia, which have explicit non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, and 18 states and DC, which have explicit gender identity protections. The state already has 20 local non-discrimination ordinances; most, like the proposed state legislation, are also limited to protections in the realms of housing and employment.
"This is a very encouraging step for all of us committed to equality. With just a short time remaining in the state legislative session, we hope for quick and positive action on this important measure," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.