The Salt Lake County Council is asking Sen. Orrin Hatch to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which aims to protect individuals from being denied jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to send a letter to Utah’s senior senator, urging the Republican to support legislation that would extend that protection at the federal level. Hatch has a chance to help steer that bill through the Senate, the council’s letter says, because of his position on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).
The council’s letter will note that Salt Lake County passed an ordinance enacting similar protections in 2010 and that, to date, 15 cities and counties in Utah have taken this stance.
“We believe this to be good public policy that should be replicated on the federal level to protect all Americans regardless of the municipality in which they work,” said the letter. “This legislation will not allow preferential treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and it would not apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees or religious organizations.”
The amending legislation has been proposed annually since 1994, sometimes making it through the House but never securing Senate approval. The act itself forbids employment discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability.
County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw, who is gay, and his Democratic colleague Sam Granato drafted the letter. Although minor reservations were expressed about it by members of the council’s 5-4 Republican majority, all voted to send the letter, apparently concurring with Councilman Michael Jensen’s observation that he was willing to endorse policies already ordained by the council.