On Friday the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee voted 4-2 to table the bill and anti-lgbt discrimination law after only a 90-minute hearing before a standing room only crowd.
The Committee was made up of five Republicans and one Democrat.
Democrat Ben McAdams’ Senate Bill 51 which would have extended workplace and housing non-discrimination protections to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns statewide was a repeat of a bill he had proposed in the 2011 session that was never able to escape the Legislature’s Rules Committee. This year, the bill was given a hearing, but from the outset it was clear the bill faced a tough crowd of legislators
Vehemently anti-gay Gayle Ruzicka, president Eagle Forum argued that if religious organizations were to be exempted then religious individuals who own businesses should also be exempted from complying with the bill.
“I think religious people should have that same opportunity as religious institutions,” Ruzicka said. “What if I own some apartments … and I want to make sure the people that rent those apartments have the same standards that I want there– I wouldn’t be able to make that choice. I’d have to allow those that are living a gay lifestyle to move in there.”
In the end McAdams, tried to make a last-ditch pitch for the bill, arguing that the bill was in keeping with what Utahns believe.
“Protection against discrimination is a Utah value,” McAdams said. “Nevertheless, we have discrimination in Utah. We have people who are evicted from their homes or lose their jobs because of how they life their life. I don’t believe we have to choose between protecting against discrimination and the religious values many of us have in our state. I believe that faith and respect can coexist, and this bill would accomplish that,” McAdams said.
Obviously the “Utahns” on the commitee didn’t agree.