For the fifth year in a row, the Utah Legislature blocked a proposal to ban housing and employment discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
The decision by a Senate committee to table SB51 sparked a protest that echoed through the Capitol Rotunda last week. More than 100 supporters of Utah's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community attended the rally, chanting "enough is enough."
The defeat came in spite of strong support in public-opinion polls and new endorsements from Utah's business community, including the Salt Lake Chamber. Fourteen cities and counties have passed anti-discrimination ordinances. The LDS Church endorsed Salt Lake City's ordinances in 2009 as "fair and reasonable."
Twin bills, HB274 and SB126, which would have allowed an unmarried parent to designate a partner as a co-parent for purposes of adoption, did not make it to a floor vote in the House or Senate. The provision would have extended limited adoption rights to unmarried couples, including same-sex pairs. In Utah, only single adults and married couples are allowed to adopt and foster children.
For the first time, a lawmaker proposed expanding state employees' benefits to include domestic partners. . Brian Doughty, a Salt Lake City Democrat and Utah's only openly gay representative, ran HB64, which would have allowed unmarried state employees to insure an "adult designee," including a partner or a financially dependent relative, instead of a spouse. The House Business and Labor Committee tabled the bill.