- March 13, 2015
HRC congratulates all LGBT Utahns and their families as they celebrate Governor Herbert signing SB296 into law yesterday evening. I was honored to stand behind the governor as he signed the landmark bill, enacting the first statewide protections for LGBT people in Utah.
The law adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing nondiscrimination laws. Once the law goes into effect in 60 days, it will be illegal for landlords and employers to discriminate against LGBT people in the Beehive state.
HRC joined advocates at Equality Utah and the ACLU of Utah, and bipartisan leaders like Democratic Senator Dabakis and Republican Senator Urquhart to craft the bill. SB296 passed with the support of the LDS Church.
Also tonight, HB322, a dangerous anti-LGBT bill, died just hours before the end of legislative session.
Unfortunately, SB 297 also passed this session. It is a needless bill that allows individual clerks and public officials in Utah to opt out of issuing marriage licenses on an individual basis—as long as they appoint a designee who can issue the license in their stead.
“Legislation like S.B. 297 simply isn’t necessary, and the spirit behind it is deeply disappointing. Individuals who apply for jobs that serve the public should be prepared to serve the whole public equally and without reservation,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.
And while the employment and housing protections make sense for Utah, Warbelow offered additional context on why other legislatures should not adopt Utah’s non-discrimination bill as a wholesale model:
“This non-discrimination bill places Utah’s LGBT community on equal footing with other protected classes under Utah state law. We urge all state legislatures considering non-discrimination legislation to use existing civil rights law in their state as a model when seeking to treat their LGBT communities equally and fairly under the law.” Most states have non-discrimination laws that also protect against discrimination in public accommodations, like restaurants, hotels, and movie theaters. Utah will stand alone in protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment and housing while offering no protections against discrimination in public accommodations.
Hope Errico Wisneski with Sen Dabakis and Sen. Urquhart with both signed bills.
Sen. Urquhart, Hope Errico Wisneski, Executive Director of Equality Utah Troy Williams.
Hope Errico Wisneski
Governor signing bill.
Hope Errico Wisneski with Sen. Urquhart.
Hope Errico Wisneski and Sen. Dabakis immediately after the bill signing.
Hope Errico Wisneski with leaders from First Baptist in Salt Lake City and Community of Grace in Sandy.