WVC approves legal protections for LGBT people

Ordinance • Mayor Winder, who is LDS, says he is following his Christian beliefs.
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The West Valley City Council, in a 5-1 vote, approved Tuesday an anti-discrimination ordinance similar to those recently passed in other Utah cities.

About 60 people attended the meeting at City Hall. Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City, and about seven others spoke in favor of the proposal to protect gay and transgender residents from housing and employment discrimination. No one spoke publicly against it.

The ordinance will go into affect Tuesday when Mayor Mike Winder signs it during a 4 p.m. ceremony at City Hall hosted by Equality Utah, a nonprofit gay advocacy group.

Winder called it a "historic day" for the state's second largest city. As a Mormon, he said supporting the ordinance is following in his Christian beliefs to treat people the way you would want to be treated.

"It was the right thing to do," Winder told the crowd.

Councilman Corey Rushton agreed, saying it was about time city leaders pulled their heads out of the sand and demand "equal protection" for all residents.

"It's unfortunate when we have to legislate niceness," Councilman Steve Vincent said.

Councilman Russ Brooks, who was the only member to vote against the ordinance, said he's been on the council for 14 years and the issue had never come up until Salt Lake City brought it up. It seems like West Valley City is just "following the streams that go down the river" and being "like our big sister Salt Lake City," he said.

"We're being asked to do something that we're not ready to do," he said, adding it might be more work for the city.

Several of the people who supported the ordinance were affiliated with Equality Utah.

Todd Olsen, an Equality Utah board member, said the ordinance will show that "West Valley City treats everyone equally and fairly."

Larry Gonzalez, a West Valley City landlord, said the ordinance is "necessary."

Stacia Ireland, a West Valley City resident, taught in area schools for 30 years. She said she knows the city's growing diversity, but it's not just about including people's various traditions and cultures.

"Diversity is not just in skin color," she said. "We are all tax paying citizens and deserve the same protection."

Winder suggested the ordinance at an annual planning retreat in January.

The 12-page ordinance is essentially a compilation of Salt Lake City's two anti-discrimination measures on housing and employment, passed in November.

Violations by West Valley City landlords with four to 20 units, or by employers with 14 or fewer workers, will carry a $500 fine. The fine will be $1,000 for landlords with 21 or more units or employers of 15 or more workers.

Salt Lake County, Park City and, most recently, Logan also passed similar measures. Other local governments, including Ogden, Taylorsville and Summit County, are considering similar ordinances.