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Utah democrats postpone gay rights bills to protect Salt Lake ordinance

Utah democrats postpone gay rights bills to protect Salt Lake ordinance

On Friday, three Democratic lawmakers announced they are dropping bills — until 2011 — that would provide anti-discrimination protections, probate rights and adoption rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Utahns.

In exchange, opponents of gay-rights legislation will drop any effort to prevent local governments from passing their own non-discrimination laws this legislative session.

Johnson, right, and Sen. Howard Stevenson, (R-Salt Lake) team up to announce an anti-discrimination study.
(Salt Lake Tribune photo)

The move is a “compromise,” sanctioned by leaders in the House and Senate, intended to halt efforts to overturn or weaken the newly minted anti-discrimination ordinances in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

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Rep. Christine Johnson, one of two openly gay Utah lawmakers, called it a “thoughtful and respectful compromise, bringing together Democrats and Republicans, Mormons and non-Mormons, gay and straight.”

Instead of her anti-discrimination bill, Johnson (D-Salt Lake City), is running one that would assign a legislative committee to study measures — both in Utah and other states — that bar housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The committee would be required to issue a report no later than Nov. 30 and determine whether to recommend and draft legislation.

Also as part of the compromise, Sen. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City), has dropped plans for a 2010 bill that would enable same-sex partners to sue when a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death. And Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City), has put aside her third-year effort to allow cohabiting, unmarried couples — including gay and lesbian partners — to adopt and foster children.

“I hope the LGBT community can understand that this compromise protected the integrity of the Salt Lake City ordinance for a year,” Johnson said. “Otherwise it would have been dismantled by the end of the session.”

Johnson said she expected mixed reactions from the LGBT community.

Full story at The Salt Lake Tribune.

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