Sen. Urquhart plans to reintroduce nondiscrimination bill

ST. GEORGE – With a U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing the way for legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Utah, anti-discrimination legislation that has been twice-stalled may have a better chance of getting through the Legislature next year.

During the 2013 session of the Utah Legislature, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, introduced legislation amending the state’s current nondiscrimination laws regarding housing and employment. The amendment would add members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender community to those protected under the law.

In brief, the legislation proposes to make it illegal to deny a person employment or housing, or to fire or evict a person, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The law would affect businesses that employ 15 or more people and landlords who manage five or more properties. Exemptions are allowed for religious-affiliated businesses and housing facilities.

Though it passed out of committee during the 2014 session, Urquhart’s bill and others related to gay rights in any way, were shelved for the year by the Legislature due to the ongoing court battle over Amendment 3 – Utah’s same-sex marriage prohibition law.

Sen. Steve Urquhart speaks at a celebration of members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News
Sen. Steve Urquhart speaks at a celebration of members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, St. George, Utah, Oct. 6, 2014 |Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

Road block no more

As of Monday, thanks to the Supreme Court turning down Utah’s request to hear it’s case over the matter, Amendment 3 is no longer an issue.

Amendment 3 was originally struck down as unconstitutional by federal district Judge Robert Shelby on Dec. 20, 2013. The 10th Circuit Court upheld that decision despite Utah’s appeals. Finally appealing to the Supreme Court, the high court granted a stay on Shelby’s ruling on Jan. 6, 2014. During the 17 days in between, over an estimated 1,200 same-sex couples were married across the state.

The stay on Shelby’s ruling was only in affect until the Supreme Court decided to hear or drop Utah’s appeal of the 10th Circuit Court’s decision upholding that original ruling. With the announcement Monday that the high court chose not to take up the case, the stay was removed and same-sex marriage, once again, became legal in Utah.

With that road block out of the way, Urquhart said he plans to reintroduce the anti-discrimination bill once again during the 2015 legislative session.

I think it will pass now,” he said. “There’s no more slippery-slope saying this will lead to gay marriage.”

Urquhart added that he sees his proposed bill as one largely relating to commerce.

“Commerce requires a level playing field,” he said. “We have laws that regulate commerce.”

In addition to adding housing and employment protections for the LGBT community, Urquhart also said a significant element of the bill relates to Utah’s business environment.

Many businesses are looking to expand into Utah but may not do so based on the perception that it is an anti-gay state, and that perception does exist, Urquhart said.

Should Urquhart’s bill pass, some groups such as the Sutherland Institute have said it will lead to prospect of “public accommodation” being applied to many different areas as a result.

“Once we insert that concept in the law, it’s going to be hard to keep that from applying to all kinds of situations,” Bill Duncan, Sutherland Institute director of the Center for Family and Society, told KSL.com.

Public accommodations are generally described as entities that serve the public in some fashion, such businesses and schools which can be either private and public. They must be able to accommodate the public in general, and not discriminate against individuals based on a variety of factors like race and religion.

While a number of other states have added sexual orientation and gender-identity to the list, Urquhart’s bill only applies to housing and employment.

“That is a separate issue,” Urquhart said.

As reported by KSL.com, just as Urquhart plans to reintroduce his bill, Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, also plans to reintroduce legislation that could exempt clergy, judges, and government officials from performing same-sex marriages based on religious objections.

“I don’t think anybody should be compelled to do something that they have a religious objection to specific to marriage,” Anderegg said, according to KSL.com

Local ordinance?

While any state-level legislation related to LGBT issues won’t be heard until next year, members of St. George’s LGBT community have begun to raise awareness for a potential nondiscrimination ordinance.

During a gathering at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George Monday celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision, activists Randy Thomson and Matthew Jacobson announced they would be approaching the St. George City Council about the matter on Nov. 6. They plan to address the council about moving toward adopting such an ordinance.

Prior to the announcement, Jacobson sent at a letter to the members of the City Council advocating the creating of a nondiscrimination protecting members of the LGBT community related to employment and housing.

“We’re certainly willing to listen,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.

A total of 19 cities in Utah, including Salt Lake City and Springdale, have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. The Salt Lake City ordinance even had the approval of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when it passed in 2009.

“Good laws don’t clog up the court system, but inform people of what the law is,” Urquhart said, referring to the Salt Lake City nondiscrimination ordinance.

And if St. George ends up adopting a similar ordinance? “I think that would be a great thing,” he said.

I think this is a significant issue of our time,” Urquhart said. “LGBT discrimination is a real thing.”

Related article

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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16 Comments

  • Lance October 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Is this liberal senator a homo himself?

    • Simone October 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      Yes he is. Do you get your political knowledge from some place other then Fox News and your Bishop? Judging from your previous posts on other articles, I would say “No”. 🙂

      • Lance October 9, 2014 at 6:41 am

        heh, you are pretty funny for a shemale…. Well a simple search shows Urquhart has a normal family but … expect his support of … will be an issue in his relection campaign. 98% of people are not sex deviants like the assortment that declare themselves LGBT, and most that 98% abhor what homos do. Expect backlash from this, that’s a reality you continue to deny, the sex deviant lifestyle will never be accepted despite the homo mafia attempts to redefine language.
        Ed. ellipses.

        • Simone October 9, 2014 at 10:19 am

          The gay senator is Jim Debakis. Now regarding this 98% you keep spouting off, where do you get that number? Of course I suspect that you just made it up. If not though, I’d be very interested to see how you got it so please share. In the meantime a recent ksl poll showed something like 55 or 60 percent of Utahns supported equality for Lgbt people. That’s in stark contrast to your claim “…and most that 98% abhor what homos do”. 🙂

          • Lance October 10, 2014 at 7:48 am

            98? Recent studies put the number of LGBT sex deviants at 2-4%. (Williams Institute, UCLA) There’s probably overlap in there, pun intended, as well as corrupt data. Many surveys, particularly media ones, are invalid due to multiple biases. Bi is often ex prison inmates having homo sex on the down low. Maybe it is 97% of people who are pure hetero. Doing things that 99% of other people won’t is the definition of deviant behavior. And that’s what queers do. Ask a normal person what they think about the unnatural sex acts committed by LGBT, you will learn they are considered repugnant. Homos should be chased back into the closet rather than allowing them to recruit children. Hope that helps you get it.

        • Dana October 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

          @Lance: Rather than spouting off unfounded and baseless “facts” perhaps you should spend more time educating yourself. Your ignorance is glaring and you should be embarrassed. Are you the product of the Utah educational system? If so, that explains your comments. And WHY exactly are your comments laced with sexual references? Perhaps you should talk to a professional therapist. You sound like you’re struggling with some latent tendencies.

  • Shiloho October 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Whattz up with the blind broad and the colored flag at the top of dis here page. If bit took off the blinders she would say. We letten who be maryen who.

  • Red Rocker October 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I notice the good Senator is a Republican. I am reassessing my opinions.
    If more Republicans lightened up on hard line social issues, their other messages might be more appealing.
    Red.

  • The Rest Of The Story October 9, 2014 at 12:09 am

    “The law would affect businesses that employ 15 or more people and landlords who manage five or more properties.”

    While such a non-discrimination ordinance is a step in the right direction, one is left wondering why the broad exemption? Is it really a financial hardship for a business that employs less than 15 people NOT to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation? Or is it really a financial hardship for a landlord who manages less than five properties to rent to a LGBT person/couple/family? What special accommodations do people of a different sexual orientation need in the workplace or in their home? I see little rationale or reasoning here.

  • Brian October 9, 2014 at 7:39 am

    In the interest of fairness and equality, I think such enforcement should be equal. If you’re going to require a bakery to sell cakes for gay weddings, against their religious beliefs, I think it’s only fair that every gay couple in that state should be required to buy one cake per year from that bakery. That seems both fair and equitable.

  • Seven Eagle October 9, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    simone when you walk into out house is that a sexual turn on for you.

  • Simone October 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    @Lance I’m happy to see you hat you went out there and backed up your own statement. Good on you. Unfortunately it appears that you did not read beyond the first statement.If you had read beyond the first statement you would have read that 25.6 million Americans or 11%acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction. According to the research brief you cited said that 25.6 million is more than the population of Texas. The brief also goes on to suggest that 8.2% of Americans have had same-sex experiences. That is the population of Florida. In your response you stated that 97% of people are “pure hetero”. The research brief you cited in your response proves you wrong in that regard at least.Try again.

  • Simone October 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Lance I think it’s great that you found a conservative website that links to the front page of the CDCs NHIS website. I admit that could not find the survey that site so i googled it http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr077.pdf just so you know it backs up your statement that 97% of the population identical as “straight”. Unfortunately, it does not back up your other statement that most of that98% “abhor what homos do” I would like to where you got that information. The information that found on the research brief you linked me to before said that 25.6 million Americans acknowledge at least some same sex sexual attraction. A recent KSL poll showed that 73% of Utahans supported non discrimination laws in housing and employment for lgbt people. 64% supported the idea of legally recognized partnerships. In 2008 California’s proposition 8 lost at the ballot box by a margin of 1% (51-49).Here is the link to the KSL poll results. http://www.ksl.com/?sid=18526785. no matter how you look at it, that is a far cry from your statement “and most that 98% abhor what homos do”. I mean if most of that 98% abhorred what “homos” do, as you claim, then why do 64% of utahns say they would support legally recognized partnerships? You claim two things that I would like you to back up with numbers from something other then a self identified conservative website or the bible. 1.) “Face it, … are perverted sex deviants, performing unnatural sex acts that 97-98% of the population do not” and 2.) your statement that ” most that 98% abhor what homos do”. If you can’t find data backing up the claims you’ve made as I have done mine then accept your defeat and don’t bother replying. Thanks for playing. 🙂

    • Lance October 12, 2014 at 6:53 am

      I think to refute a CDC and NHIS study you are going to need a better source than the homosexual advocate sponsor’s survey you are referring to. Media surveys are commonly statistically invalid due to biased questions and poor sampling. Keep trying.

      You know, there are psychologists that can help. You could consider seeking help for overcoming your deviant behavior.

  • Simone October 12, 2014 at 11:35 am

    You need to go back and read my reply again apparently. I did not refute what the cdc said. YOU keep saying things like “most 98% of people abhor what homos do” and “face it…are perverted sex deviants, performing unnatural sex acts that 97-98% of the population do not”. I’m going to give you one more chance to back up that claim.

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