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Hatch backs anti-discrimination bill for gay employees

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Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, hasn’t taken a position on the legislation and a spokesman said he would review the bill.

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Courageous » Utah Democratic Party Chairman and state Sen. Jim Dabakis helped negotiate the LDS Church’s support of Salt Lake City’s anti-discrimination ordinance, calling it a "red-letter day."

"It was a bold move," he said. "It was a courageous move and I salute the church for it."

The conversations leading up to the new ordinance stemmed from a controversy in which two gay men were detained by LDS security for hugging and kissing on the church’s Main Street Plaza.

LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson addressed the City Council at the time, saying: "The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage."

Since then, 14 other cities and counties in Utah have since passed anti-discrimination laws, including Salt Lake County. The County Council sent a letter to Hatch in June asking him to support ENDA.

"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."

Dabakis, who is gay, said he wasn’t surprised by Hatch’s vote because the conservative senator has always been "fair" and he anticipates that Congress will eventually pass the bill as well.

"It just seems fair and logical and reasonable," Dabakis said, "and I think the Congress is going to do the right thing."

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Twitter: @mattcanham

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