Last night Holladay City become the 20th municipality in our state to ensure that gay and transgender residents can live and work without fear of unfair discrimination.
“Discrimination against hardworking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns in our state is real. Forty-nine percent of gay Utahns, and a staggering 67 percent of transgender Utahns have been fired, denied a job, or not promoted solely because of who they are.” Said Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken.
The ordinance’s passage took a while, and took some coaching from Equality Utah’s staff.
“Through this process I grew, and became a better listener as I considered both sides of the argument,” said Council Member Patricia Pignanelli. “Ultimately I came out of this experience full of respect for the people on both sides of the issue. As an educator, I always taught the golden rule. It was heartbreaking for me to imagine being qualified, and wanting to work, and being denied the opportunity to provide for myself or my family simply because of my orientation or gender identity. Discrimination of any kind has no place in our state, and certainly not in Holladay City.”
Balken says that much of the time it takes to pass an ordinance is that people believe it is already against the law to discriminate on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Many Utahns are shocked to learn that there is no state or federal law that explicitly protects gay and transgender workers from unfair workplace discrimination,” Balken said. “Each of us should be treated the same by the laws of our state. No hardworking Utahn, including workers who are gay or transgender, should have to live in fear that they can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”
In the end, it seems to come down to fairness.
“I voted to pass this ordinance because it was consistent with our core community values. As Utahns we believe in freedom and opportunity for everyone,” said Council Member James Palmer. “It’s time to strike a balance and give all Utahns- including gay & transgender residents the same opportunity to earn a living.”