Excerpts of Anti-gay bias 'pervasive' in Utah, report says by Rosemary Winters, Salt Lake Tribune
Equality Utah ... with the help of a University of California Los Angeles think tank, has prepared Utah's first statewide report on discrimination against gay and transgender Utahns. The report features a nonrandom survey of 939 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Utahns and new analysis of census data that helps paint a portrait of the LGBT community in Utah.
Equality Utah is pushing for a statewide law, sponsored this year by Salt Lake City Democrat Sen. Ben McAdams, that would ban housing and employment discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Republican-led Utah Legislature has blocked efforts at a statewide anti-discrimination law the past two sessions.
"The two concerns we've heard from the Legislature in the past is that employment discrimination is very rare ... and there would be a flood of frivolous claims" that would burden state government, said Clifford Rosky, an Equality Utah board member and a senior research fellow at UCLA's Williams Institute, the think tank that co-authored the report.
Of the gay and bisexual Utahns surveyed, 44 percent said they have been fired or denied a job or a promotion due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Among transgender Utahns, 67 percent said they had received such treatment.
"If we look at this realistically, I don't think it has a lot of chance," said Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, Republican majority whip. "The Legislature is a little more conservative than it was a year ago."
Niederhauser said he does not presently support a statewide law because of "fundamental questions" about how anti-discrimination protections could conflict with "natural rights," such as marriage and children.
Last year, as part of a compromise, Republicans agreed to scrap bills aimed at altering or overturning Salt Lake City's anti-discrimination ordinances and Democrats dropped a statewide anti-discrimination bill and other gay-rights measures.
A quarter of gay respondents and more than a third of transgender ones say they fear discrimination in their current jobs, according to Equality Utah's survey.
For a copy of the report, go to www.equalityutah.org or www.law.ucla.edu/williams-institute.