UT Governor says ‘no protected class’ based on sexual orientation

Gary HerbertIn his most definitive comments yet on gay rights, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he doesn’t believe sexual orientation should be a protected class in the way that race, gender and religion are.

“I don’t think we should discriminate against people,” Herbert said during his first news conference since becoming governor two weeks ago. But said he is “reluctant for anybody to be put into a protected class.”

Asked specifically if he thought people should be afforded legal protection based on sexual orientation, Herbert responded, “No.”

“We don’t have to have a rule for everybody to do the right thing. We ought to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do,” Herbert said. “Where do you stop? That’s the problem going down that slippery road. Pretty soon we’re going to have a special law for blue-eyed blondes.”

In Utah, it is legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender. The gay rights advocacy group Equality Utah has been trying to change state law for several years but has always been rebuffed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Herbert would not say whether he thought the state should block a proposed Salt Lake City ordinance protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

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