After nearly a year of debate and deliberation, the Ogden City Council will consider and vote on ordinances to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The draft ordinances are similar to other bills already passed in 11 other Utah municipalities. The bills protect people from discrimination in the workplace and in housing. The other similar bills, and the proposed Ogden bill, all include some exemptions. All religious organizations are exempt, as are employers with 15 or fewer employees. The bill also exempts a landlord that rents four or fewer housing units.
However, the Ogden ordinance has some extra exemptions. Both the housing and workplace bills include an exemption that says the bill cannot prohibit the expression of someone’s religious beliefs.
The exact wording of the bill is somewhat vague, and it says the following: This chapter shall not be construed to limit or prohibit the expression of a person’s religious beliefs, opinions or views.
Also, the bill includes an exemption for a shared living space between more than one people where each renter has an individual contract.
“We’re concerned about these two exemptions,” said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah. “Our recommendation would be to go forward with some changes to those two exemptions.”
The city council scheduled a vote for Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Ogden City Municipal Building.