Springdale, Utah’s Town Council unanimously passed an ordinance protecting against bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace and housing on April 11. Modeled after similar measures passed in Utah, the town located at the gateway to Zion National Park is the first to pass a such an ordinance in Washington County.
The measure was sponsored by councilmember Mark Chambers, who is openly gay and owns Under the Eaves Bed & Breakfast with his partner Joe Pitti. In a brief, supporting his proposed ordinance, Chambers said the measure was modeled after other similar laws, particularly in Alta and Harrisville. Brandie Balken and Equality Utah helped in the coordinated efforts, he said.
“While bills at the state legislature have been forwarded, the state has not modified the Anti-Discrimination Act to designate sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Act,” Chambers said in the brief. “In an effort to both provide that protection and show support for a change to the state statute, several communities in Utah have recently adopted similar anti-discrimination ordinances to this proposed ordinance.”
The town’s attorney reviewed the ordinance and certified it, and although there may be some fiscal notes attached, the effects will be limited, he said.
“I am not personally aware of any discriminatory actions that have occurred in the town that would be in the future covered by the ordinance, so I can’t speak to what that obligation or burden might entail,” he said. “However, given the diverse nature of the community I don’t expect significant activity resulting from this ordinance.”
Springdale is an extremely welcoming town and the most difficult part about passing the ordinance was convincing others that it was needed because the culture is already so welcoming, Chambers said. There was no opposition from community groups or other council members, he added.
“I’d encourage everyone to come down and support Springdale and its local economy. It really is a welcoming and affirming environment for LGBT people,” Chambers said.
Springdale becomes Utah’s 15th municipality to pass similar nondiscrimination measures. Other cities and counties with protections include: Alta, Grand County, Harrisville, Logan, Midvale, Moab, Murray, Ogden, Park City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Summit County, Taylorsville and West Valley City.