The Utah Legislature has failed to pass legislation making it illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing or in the workplace for the fifth time.
The bill made it through the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee for the first time in history, but as Senator Jim Dabakis-D, Salt Lake City said Monday, the votes for passage in the Senate “just weren’t there.” Senate President Niederhauser-R, Sandy thought support for the bill within the Senate was about 40 percent versus 60 percent opposed.
SB262, sponsored by Senator Steven Urquhart-R, St. George managed to squeak through a Senate committee hearing last week with a 4-3 vote on March 7, but hope for passage seemed to dwindle. Today (Monday) is the last day for the Senate to debate bills that originate within that body with the final day of the session coming Thursday. There was no debate for SB262 planned.
Urquhart’s bill did include clear exemptions for private businesses owned by religious organizations. That would allow businesses like KSL Television and Brigham Young University to discriminate and not hire gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals or allow those students to live in on-campus dorms. The legislation also included an exemption from prosecution for anyone with an honest moral objection to homosexuality.
Salt Lake City was the first community in the state to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance back in 2009. Currently seventeen Utah counties and municipalities have similar ordinances.
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Source: Utah Legislature, Salt Lake Tribune, KUTV News, Utah Policy