Holladay debates non-discrimination ordinance

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HOLLADAY, Utah -- As the Utah legislature debates a statewide non-discrimination law protecting the LGBT community in the workplace and housing, another city in Salt Lake County debates whether to adopt its own ordinance.

Holladay took up the topic during Thursday night's council meeting.

One after another, residents, including members from a Holladay congregation and even the Salt Lake City Catholic Diocese, stood up at the podium to support a citywide non-discrimination ordinance protecting the LGBT community in housing and employment.

The majority of people who showed up said it’s a good idea to pass the ordinance, but there were two residents in the crowd who said because this very issue is making its way through the Utah legislature, the council should table the ordinance and wait for the state to make a decision.

While Holladay's City Council is considering the ordinance, there was at least one councilman who voiced concern. Steve Gunn said he was concerned that if there was no evidence or cases of discrimination against LGBT citizens in his city, then this was a non-issue and passing the ordinance would create a special class of citizens.

"The question I would like you to address: is it appropriate for us and this council to adopt an ordinance that deals with seemingly a non-issue? That's a concern for me,” he said.

"This is not appropriate in Holladay,” Resident Ralph Chambless said as he voiced his support of the ordinance. “Make decisions in employment and housing on this basis is wrong, and this council should take that decision, pass the ordinance and make it clear that we are not going to have this in our community.”

"My input to the council would be to not take a vote on it either way because it's such a volatile issue that's going through the courts at the federal level, and in the state legislature," said Holladay resident Ron Hilton.

Katie Filler is another resident who supported passing the ordinance.

"Prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation doesn't create a special class, it would just make us all equal under the law," she said.

There are currently 17 other cities in Utah which have passed non-discrimination ordinances protecting the LGBT community. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has even publicly shown support of such ordinances, although religious organizations are also exempt from these ordinances. The Holladay City Council won't be voting on the ordinance until February 20.

1 Comment

  • Ron Hilton

    I appreciate the attempt at balanced reporting by giving airtime to both sides, but you omitted what I considered to be the more important part of my comments, regarding freedom of religion. I am not opposed to fair treatment for all, including LGBT individuals. But where this type of ordinance/statute has been passed in other states, there have been major unintended consequences, trampling on the religious rights of others as “the price of citizenship” in the infamous words of one judge.

    I would offer one important amendment to the ordinance. The exemptions should be expanded to include any employer or property owner who feels that compliance with the ordinance in a given situation would create a perception that they support anything contradicting their sincerely held religious beliefs or values. The exemption of churches and “expressive associations” does not go far enough in protecting the religious freedom of individuals. The ordinance needs to make it abundantly clear that the Constitutional rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech, and freedom of association all override any potential effects to the contrary by the ordinance, and that the ordinance does not imply that any competing Constitutional rights exist on the basis of sexual orientation.

    I may have been outnumbered at the meeting last night, but when it comes to protecting an inalienable right like the freedom of religion, popular opinion has no bearing on it. Any government that would jeopardize or undermine freedom of religion, even a democracy, loses its moral authority.

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