On Friday afternoon Utah State Sen. Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) taped the first blue note to the doors of the Utah Senate chamber. The message was simple: Hear SB100.
The bill, now entering its sixth year on the hill, seeks to provide housing and employment protections for LGBT Utahns through current anti-discrimination measures. It would add the terms sexual orientation and gender identity to current law that protects people on the basis of race, creed, religion, sex, family status, etc… Last year the bill made its most significant progress, favorably passing a senate committee, before failing to pass at the end of the session.
This year, however, the bill faces a more significant hurdle than in years past. In the wake of Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Republican leadership in the legislature have threatened a moratorium on all marriage-related legislation. That prohibition seemingly also applies to SB100, even though it has nothing to do with marriage or the same-sex marriage debate in Utah.
Utah’s newly-appointed Attorney General, Sean Reyes, met with the Republican legislative caucus and cautioned them away from same-sex marriage debates during the session. One of the points in the Herbert v. Kitchen case, currently pending before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, is that Utah has displayed animus towards its LGBT citizens. Reyes warned that comments made during testimony and/or floor debates on this issue could be used to further demonstrate that animus in court.
Urquhart’s response was plain and simple: “Let’s not show animus when we discuss this, let’s just be respectful and dignified in what we say.”
With that, he taped his blue note to the door. Blue notes are small forms that can be obtained from senate offices, interns, and pages on which constituents can write a message to their senator. Operation Blue Note is a movement to flood the Utah Senate with these notes, encouraging senate leadership to hear argument on, and pass, SB100. Urquhart has asked everyone who can to go to the capitol, to write “Hear SB100” on a blue note and tape it to the doors of the senate chamber.