Utah lawmakers are reportedly working with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and social rights groups to help pass a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from housing and employment discrimination. Utah Governor Gary Herbert told reporters Tuesday he’s not involved in the discussions but will consider the bill.
Governor Herbert continues to advocate a so-called bottom-up approach to anti-discrimination policies. That includes allowing local governments to create their own unique non-discrimination ordinances instead of taking action on the state level.
“That being said if there are some issues out there that bring people together, that unite us so that there could be a statewide approach I’m certainly willing to look at it and consider it,” Herbert said. “I just haven’t seen it.”
Sixteen Utah cities and counties have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. A 2011 survey commissioned by Equality Utah and conducted by Dan Jones and Associates showed about 3 out of 4 Utahns favor statewide protections.
Brandie Balkin is the Executive Director of Equality Utah. She says awareness around this issue has grown to such a point that lawmakers are ready to act.
“I personally do feel incredibly hopeful that this will be the year that the Utah Legislature stands on a strong statement that all people deserve an equal opportunity at having access to a job or having access to a place to live,” Balkin said.
Balkin adds a patchwork of varying anti-discrimination ordinances is too difficult for employers to navigate.
Should an agreement be reached on the issue, Republican Senator Curt Bramble plans to sponsor the legislation.