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American Fork to consider anti-bias measures

American Fork will be the first city in Utah County to consider ordinances that protect against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing. The American Fork City Council will discuss passing the measures on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.

After the Salt Lake City Council passed similar laws, 11 other Utah municipalities followed suit, although there is still no statewide law barring discrimination. The ordinances include exemptions for religious organizations, the Boy Scouts of America, the Federal Government and employers of fewer than 15 people. The housing ordinance exempts residences operated by nonprofit, charitable or religious organizations, dormitories or the federal government. Persons or organizations not owning at least four properties in the city or do not use a rental or real estate service, and owner-occupied buildings with four or less units are also exempt from the new law. Even the Mormon Church supported the Salt Lake City ordinances and called them “fair and reasonable.”

Despite religious and other exemptions, the conservative think-tank The Sutherland Institute issued a statement and sent an email to American Fork residents saying the proposed ordinances would harm their freedoms and bar employers and landlords from expressing their opinions.

“The situation is slightly different because there are long-standing religious teachings about sexual morality that potentially run afoul of an ordinance like this,” the statement reads.

Recent polling data indicates widespread support for anti-bias laws, and more than 70 percent of Utahns say they support such measures.

The city council members said a complaint about discrimination spurred them to take up the issue. Also, in September a 32-year-old man was attacked in American Fork by three assailants who shouted gay slurs and the case is being investigated as a possible hate-motivated crime.

LINK: Unlawful discrimination in housing practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity

LINK: Unlawful discriminatory employment practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity

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Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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