Sunday, March 04, 2012

Utah Legislature Kills Gay Rights Bill For 5th Year In A Row

Bad news from Utah. For the fifth year in a row a bill which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing and employment anywhere in the state of Utah has been killed by the Mormon (and Republican) dominated Legislature. SB 51, authored by Democratic State Senator Ben McAdams, would have
prohibited discrimination includes sexual orientation and gender identity as a prohibited basis for discrimination in employment; prohibits political speech or activity as a basis for discrimination in employment; modifies exemptions to the Utah Fair Housing Act; includes sexual orientation and gender identity as a prohibited basis for discriminatory housing practices;
Interestingly, in the last few years the Mormon Church has dropped its opposition to statewide LGBT protections in employment and housing and several municipalities in the state have passed local ordinances which do just that.

Just to demonstrate the extreme level of ignorance about civil rights in Utah check out this quote published by the Salt Lake Tribune:
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, spoke against the bill, saying that exemptions for religious organizations should be expanded to include religious people. Although existing anti-discrimination laws exempt owners of four or fewer units, Ruzicka questioned how she would be affected if she owned a 100-unit apartment complex.
"What if I was renting to singles and wanted I certain standard. I couldn’t say, ‘You’re living a homosexual lifestyle. You cant live here,’" Ruzicka said. "I think I should have the right to do so." 
McAdams said allowing bias because of a person’s religious beliefs would undermine state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination. 
"If I want to rent only to people of a certain ethnicity [because of my religious beliefs], I can’t do that. That’s discrimination," McAdams said.
It is because of religious extremists like Ruzicka that we need federal prohibitions on discrimination in housing that include sexual orientation and gender identity. McAdams makes the immediate connection that if you can allow discrimination based on religious beliefs it will soon lead to what is clearly unacceptable discrimination based on other categories.

Progressive and LGBT activists are not taking this repressive action by the Utah legislature denying equal rights to the LGBT community quietly.

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