Snaps & Slaps

SNAP: Rep. Christine Johnson

Time and time again, Rep. Christine Johnson has proven herself to be a tireless champion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in a Legislature notorious for doing everything in its power to stomp those rights back to the 1940s. But this session, she has managed to accomplish the truly Herculean: defeating at least five anti-gay bills before they were even enrolled — and getting a Senate Republican’s help to do so. Johnson’s work in creating the Anti-Discrimination Study Related to Employment and Housing is truly outstanding. She has, most likely, saved Salt Lake City’s ordinances that protect gay and transgender people from housing and employment discrimination. The community owes her its thanks.

SNAP: The Study Itself

Of course, when it comes to the actual bill, former State Sen. Scott McCoy said it best: “Do we really need to study to discover that gay and lesbian people face discrimination? I mean really?!” But while the study is one blatant example of the reddest of red tape, it’s also a very good thing. The facts are indisputable: Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity exists in Utah, as the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission proved in its landmark report, released last July. If the bill passes, and a legislative committee is forced to actually examine these and other facts, arguments against extending protections to Utahns regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity will become even more untenable. Like McCoy, we’re hoping for the best.

SLAP: The Bills the Bill Pre-Empted

According to Equality Utah, the bill Johnson and Sen. Howard Stephenson introduced struck down five anti-gay bills — one of which would have given the adherents of any religion the right to “opt out” of Salt Lake City’s ordinances. To the anti-gay legislators who authored these bills: Seriously? The Legislature  is facing a wide-ranging discussion on ethics reform and the worst budget crisis in decades, yet you still have the time to author five bills all with the purpose of slapping around a municipal government? In the same session with five resolutions trumpeting the virtues of states’ rights and small government? Seriously? Oh, wait. This is Utah.

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