Lawmakers scrap effort to ban anti-gay discrimination

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Rosemary Winters

Despite strong support in public polls and endorsements from prominent business leaders, lawmakers on Friday snuffed out a statewide effort to ban discrimination against gay and transgender Utahns.

In a 4-2 vote, a Senate committee shelved SB51 after a 90-minute public hearing with a standing-room-only crowd.

Sen. Ben McAdams, the bill’s sponsor and a Salt Lake City Democrat, said he was disappointed the bill failed but called the hearing a “valuable discussion” and a “huge milestone.” This is the fifth year that Democrats have run such a bill but the first year to get a Senate hearing.

This year, the Salt Lake Chamber and executives from Ancestry.com, 1-800-Contacts and eBay have endorsed the measure, saying it would enhance Utah’s reputation as a welcoming place to do business. Nearly three-fourths of Utahns support such a law, according to a recent poll by Dan Jones & Associates.

Already, 14 Utah cities and counties have ordinances that ban housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. McAdams said adding those categories to Utah’s existing anti-discrimination laws, which protect individuals from bias based on race, religion, disability and other characteristics, would make the law consistent statewide.

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