Layton • A trio of residents asked the City Council on Thursday to adopt an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.
Laurie Eccleston, a member of PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays), said enacting a nondiscrimination measure is a matter of basic fairness that would protect all citizens.
Local Utah governments with nondiscrimination ordinances
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
South Salt Lake
West Valley City
Source: Equality Utah
"There are no favored classes" under such an ordinance, Eccleston told the council during the citizen-comment period. She also stressed that the measure has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, which restroom transgender people can use or whom businesses have to serve.
Eccleston said she had requested last fall that Layton enact a nondiscrimination ordinance but the matter was put on the back burner partly because of SB100, which would have banned housing and employment discrimination statewide against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Utah legislative leaders blocked any debate or voting on the bill.
With no state or federal laws in Utah banning discriminatory evictions and hiring and firing decisions, Eccleston said, a Layton ordinance would encourage big out-of-state companies to move to the city because their employees would be protected.
Joseph D’Arco, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, said the lack of a nondiscrimination ordinance could tip the scales against nearby Hill Air Force Base in military funding and base closure decisions.
Ross Poore, a retired teacher and administrator for Davis School District, pointed out that South Dakota state Sen. Phil Jensen, while arguing in support of a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse services to customers based on their sexual orientation, said companies should be allowed to discriminate based on race
"This is 2014, folks," Poore said. "We need an antidiscrimination ordinance in Layton because of people like this."
Shawn Anderson, the owner of a small software business, said any ordinance should be crafted to avoid the unintended consequence of frivolous lawsuits, adding that he would support a law modeled after Salt Lake City’s.
Mayor Bob Stevenson said the council and city staff have been discussing the issue since the first of the year but aren’t ready yet to put a proposal forward.
"We at Layton City do not want to discriminate against anyone," the mayor said.
Since 2009, 17 Utah cities and three counties have passed similar laws.
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