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Cedar City Declines Anti-discrimination Ordinances

UPDATED OCT. 28, 10:30 a.m.

The Cedar City Council declined to vote on two ordinances that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to its housing and employment anti-discrimination laws. So far, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Park City, Summit County, Logan City, Taylorsville and West Valley City have approved such ordinances. Salt Lake City and County were the first to do so in 2009.

Cedar City’s ordinances, which are identical to those passed in other cities, would have fined landlords and employers who evict, fire or refuse to hire tenants and employees based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Businesses with 14 or fewer employees, landlords owning four or fewer units and religious-owned businesses would have been exempted from the law.

Statewide gay and transgender rights group Equality Utah has been working to pass ordinances like Salt Lake City’s in at least 10 cities and counties by the end of the year. In Cedar City they have been helped by Southern Utah University’s Queer-Straight Alliance. Earlier this year, the student group held public meetings about the ordinances and had spoken to Mayor Joe Burgess and City Councilmembers about what the ordinances will do for their city.

“We got on the radio, we got fliers out, we papered the town in an attempt to get as many people from as many backgrounds as possible to come and talk about the ordinances because no one wants to pass something they don’t understand,” QSA President Benjamin King Smith told QSaltLake in September. “We’ve had a lot of people who have come to them wanting to know if they’ll be protected. It’s nice to have these conversations.”

Throughout October, the Cedar City Council held meetings about the ordinances in which they allowed public comment. Smith said that these had gone over well.

Councilperson Georgia Beth Thompson moved to approve the anti-discrimination ordinance on housing, but it failed without a second.

Council members then discussed the possibility of a resolution that encouraged fairness in housing and employment and would study the city’s own practices in hiring and firing. That motion passed and will be on the agenda at the next council meeting. Thompson voted nay on the resolution, saying the council was “chicken” to pass the ordinances.

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