Utah Governor Says No Special Protections for Gay People

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Utah Governor Gary Herbert does not want gay and lesbian people to be included in anti-discrimination ordinances and laws in his state. At his first monthly press conference, Herbert was asked about Salt Lake City’s new non-discrimination ordinance that Mayor Ralph Becker is proposing to the City Council in the next month.

“Well I haven’t seen the ordinance, so I don’t know what the ramifications of that ordinance are, and I hate to speculate on what I would do without having a chance to read it, understand it and see what the ramifications or the potential unintended consequences of that would be,” Herbert answered. “I believe in local government. I believe that we ought to build ordinances and policies ground up. Bottom up, not top-down. In most instances, government closest to the people reflects the people’s will much better. So I would be patient and wait and see what comes up. And the legislature will react as they typically do on these issues, but I’m not prepared to weigh in on that yet. “

He was a bit evasive when asked what, specifically, he would have with the inclusion of gay and lesbian people in an ordinance.

“Well, I don’t think we should discriminate against gay people. I think people oght to be treated with respect. There’s nothing that causes me as an employer to say, ‘Well, I don’t want to hire you because…” Herbert said, shying away from saying th words gay or lesbian. “If you’re willing to follow the rules of my business and represent me in a fair and effective way. So I think we need to not discriminate against people when it comes to civil rights issues. I am reluctant for anybody to be put into a protected class. That seems to be where this road sometimes goes down and that causes me some concern. We don’t have to have a rule for everybody to do the right thing. We ought to just do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do and we don’t have to have a law that punishes us if we don’t.”

Jeff Robinson of radio station KCPW asked, “But then again, governor, we already do for religion and race and ethnicity, so why not expand it if you don’t believe in anybody should be discriminated against?”

“Well then, 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 blonds. And I’m not sure that’s the case, or where people are losing their hair a little bit, there’s a special classification we put them in,” Herbert answered. “There’s some support in anything we put out there, and we end up getting bogged down in the minutiae of things that the government really has no role to be involved with.”

“So should sexuality, sexual orientation, be a protected class?” asked Robert Gehrke of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Gov. Herbert: “No.”


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