Holladay • Email traffic to this city’s elected officials has picked up since the discussion began a few months ago on a proposed ordinance prohibiting housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
And some of the comments focus on same-sex marriage, a topic that Holladay Mayor Robert Dahle stresses has nothing to do with the proposal.
The Holladay City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance that would prohibit housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at a meeting beginning 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 4580 S. 2300 East.
Local Utah governments with nondiscrimination ordinances
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Source: Equality Utah
"This was never intended to be about that," Dahle said. "This is a debate about an anti-discrimination ordinance."
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting Thursday. If approved, Holladay would become the 20th local government in Utah with a law banning discrimination in housing and jobs.
Council members, who previously considered the measure but never brought it to a vote, discussed the ordinance at a study meeting last week.
Councilman Lynn Pace said the inclusion of same-sex marriage in resident comments shows many believe the housing and employment ordinance is making a social statement. He said the proposal would create a new protected class and suggested changing it to protect a wider group against housing and job discrimination to "sidestep the social statement."
Dahle said he views the ordinance "as making everyone the same class."
Councilman James Palmer Jr., a co-sponsor of the ordinance, said he is against Pace’s suggested change and pointed out the ordinance would protect all people — not just gays and lesbians — who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Councilman Steven Gunn expressed doubt about whether the ordinance was needed, saying he doesn’t know of any incident of discrimination in housing or employment in Holladay based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The council held a public hearing Feb. 5 on the ordinance and most of the 21 people who spoke supported the measure. Two were against it, including one speaker who said the ordinance could have unintended consequences against people of traditional faith.
In 2009, Salt Lake City became the first municipality in the state to adopt an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and employment — and did so with the LDS Church’s blessing. Since then, 15 more Utah cities and three counties have passed similar laws.
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