SALT LAKE CITY – An anti-discrimination bill slated to safeguard housing and employment rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals was pronounced dead in the Utah Legislature Wednesday.
Following a recommendation from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Republican leadership decided not to move forward with Senate Bill 100 and related LGBT legislation in the current legislative session. Republican state Sen. Steve Urquhart, SB 100’s sponsor, said the bill was shelved due to concerns it would negatively impact the state’s court battle over Amendment 3, the state’s same-sex marriage ban.
Same-sex marriages in Utah were performed between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 following Utah’s same-sex marriage ban being struck down by by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby. Over 1,300 same-sex marriages were performed by Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on Shelby’s ruling pending Utah’s appeal.
Urquhart said a word currently being thrown around in relation to Utah and its LGBT issues is “animus,” a term indicating possible prejudice. Perceived animus could appear while the bill is debated by the legislature, something which legislative leaders want to avoid, he said.
“I understand this position,” Urquhart said, yet added, “I think it’s poor legal counsel.”
Urquhart said the bill, which he has repeatedly said has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, could be debated civilly, without inflammatory comments from either side. As it stands, however, “It’s not going to be heard,” he said.
It is unlikely the SB 100 will pop up again during the 2014 legislative session, Urquhart said, unless something big happens to change that. For the immediate future, the senator said he will focus his attention and effort on other pressing matters, such as education, and the affects of the Affordable Care Act on the state.
“You can’t swim after a boat that’s already sailed,” Urquhart said.
SB 100 and other LGBT-related bills were shelved last week in connection with the legal battle over Amendment 3. Over the weekend, however, Urquhart started a campaign called “Hear SB100” in which Urquhart stuck a blue note to the doors of the state senate chamber with “Hear SB100” written on it. Ultimately hundreds of notes with the same message from the bill’s supporters plastered the chamber doors.
While Urquhart’s anti-discrimination bill would have a statewide effect if passed, currently 19 municipalities across Utah, including Springdale, have passed similar measures on the local level.
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- Tenth Circuit denies Utah’s appeal for stay on same-sex marriage ruling
- Marriage licenses issued, weddings had for same-sex couples in Washington County
- Judge denies Utah’s request for emergency stay, same-sex marriage decision
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