Utah Republican Senator Steve Urquhart is urging Utah citizens to come forward in support of the state’s non-discrimination bill, which would ban certain employers and landlords from firing or evicting people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Currently Utah’s non-discrimination act includes protections for race, color, religion, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, sex, age (if the individual is 40 years of age or older), national origin, or disability.
SB 100 would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes.
However, currently Republican leadership is refusing to allow the bill to be heard on the committee or the floor. The conservative group Utah Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka has claimed the bill is poorly written, saying, “As you try to eliminate discrimination with one group of people, you end up creating another class of people, and then you discriminate against all people.”
She exemplified her point by adding, “Anybody can declare to the world, ‘I think I’m a girl, so I am a girl,’ if it’s a man. Or vice versa if it’s a woman. And then, they just go to their employer then and tell their employer that they perceive that they are a girl, or they think they are a girl, and announce that they’ll be using the women’s restroom or shower facilities or dressing room.”
However, Urquhart is not deterred. During a press conference he referred to a poll conducted in recent years suggests that 73 percent of the state supports the passage of the bill.
“That’s the job of legislative bodies, to do the will of the people, so it’s time to pass nondiscrimination laws statewide,” Urquhart said.
Urquhart is calling on the public to use a 45-day legislative session to come to the Capitol and write “Hear SB 100” onto the meeting request forms.
His attempt to have the bill heard comes in the midst of the current debate in Utah over same-sex marriage, leaving a few members of the Senate keen to wait until the hype dies down before considering Urquhart’s legislation.
The executive director of Equality Utah, Brandie Balken, also spoke at the conference. “These are our most basic necessities…we don’t believe that any Utahn should live in fear of losing their home or their jobs, simply because of who they are…Utahns are fair minded.”
According to Utah Political Capitol, it has been estimated that over two hundred request forms have been submitted in support of the bill, though some have been removed by an unknown source.
Currently, twenty states include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws.