Cache legislators: No plans to address gay issues during session

When the Utah Legislature convenes in the coming weeks, the issue of whether members of the homosexual community should be extended special protections against discrimination in housing and employment is expected to be addressed in some way. Members of Cache County’s legislative delegation, however, say they will not be the ones who initiate any such discussions. Late last year, Salt Lake’s City Council approved two ordinances extending special protection to homosexuals preventing discrimination in housing and employment matters. There’s been some discussion at state levels that on one hand the Legislature may consider forcing Salt Lake City to retract its ordinances, while on the other hand some may seek to extend the protections statewide. “If you asked the majority of Utah’s citizens whether or not we should permit discrimination based on sexual orientation, a great many would say that such discrimination should not be permitted,” House District 5 Rep. Curt Webb wrote in an e-mail responding to his views on the issue. “However if the question were worded as follows: ‘Is it good public policy (to) give the Gay, Lesbian and Trans-gender community

<em>protected class status</em>

.’ I believe the response would be very different.” Webb said that for him, the question of discrimination protection based on sexual orientation has been legislated in some jurisdictions and not in others. The question for Utah, he said, is whether Utah wants to add an additional protected class to Utah’s code based on sexual orientation. “For me as a policy maker, a business owner, and a property owner, the answer is no,” Webb said. “I believe that people in this subgroup make good citizens, tenants, and employees. I believe that many in this group have warranted, and will continue to warrant the respsect of their fellow citizens based on their contributions to the public good, as is expected of all of us. We have to ask ourselves; ‘Is special treatment warranted?’ I do not believe that ‘protected class status’ for this group of citizens is wise or necessary public policy.” From Sen. Lyle Hillyard’s point of view, aside from likely being too busy with the budgets as the chairman of the executive appropriations committee, there’s concern about different employment rules for a city where many businesses have offices across the state. “They must comply with different rules within the same organization,” Hillyard said. With that, however, Hillyard said he didn’t plan to sponsor such a bill and he doesn’t see a bill being passed statewide. House District 4 Rep. Fred Hunsaker also said he doesn’t support a statewide ordinance or an ordinance forcing Salt Lake City to retract its ordinances. “I do not intend to challenge the November ordinance by the duly elected officials of Salt Lake City nor do I anticipate during the 2010 session of having a floor vote to expand Salt Lake City’s ordinance statewide,” Hunsaker said. House District 3 Rep. Jack Draxler did not respond to an e-mail Monday seeking his view on the issue.

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