Mon February 3, 2014
Despite Public Outpouring, Senate Leaders Determined to Ignore Anti-discrimination Bill
The Utah Senate chamber doors were plastered with pieces of blue paper today - all expressing support for a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens. But Senate leaders are still determined to bar the bill from being debated on the floor.
Ardent support of Senate Bill 100 has not changed Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser's mind. He still feels that LGBT rights bills should be tabled until the 10th circuit court decides on the appeal of a ruling by federal district court judge Robert Shelby striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriages.
"Obviously, judge Shelby's decision has created a new dynamic this session that we haven't had in others, and we still think it's best for us to focus on the appeal, and wait to discuss these issues once we have more clarity on what the courts are going to do," Neiderhauser says.
SB100 is currently being held in the Senate Rules Committee, where it will likely stay. That's according to Rules Committee Chair John Valentine.
"The Senate leadership controls the rules committee. The members of the rules committee do have the ability to vote against what the leadership has asked for, but this time, I don't think the committee will do that," Valentine says.
Valentine feels that while the state's constitution is currently under question, the state should not be changing related statutes. The sponsor of Senate Bill 100 - Steve Urquhart (R-St George) - says he'll keep fighting.
"The issue of workplace and employment nondiscrimination has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. It needs to pass regardless where that issue goes. Right now the talk is that all bills dealing with LGBT issues will go away, and I'm not willing to accept that, so I'm fighting to breathe life in the non-discrimination bill," Urquhart says.
This is the sixth year that a ban on discrimination against members of the LGBT community has been proposed in the legislature.