Dabakis releases short nondiscrimination bill

Openly gay Utah Sen. James Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City) has sponsored a very simple bill that would add the words “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” to Utah’s existing public accommodations nondiscrimination act that currently protects race, color, sex, religion, ancestry and national origin.

Senate Bill 99 was introduced Wednesday with a zero-dollar fiscal note. It will now go to the Senate Rules Committee, on which Dabakis sits.

The bill reads:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
Section 1. Section 13-7-3 is amended to read:
13-7-3. Equal right in business establishments, places of public accommodation, and enterprises regulated by the state.
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal and are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, goods and services in all business establishments and in all places of public accommodation, and by all enterprises regulated by the state of every kind whatsoever, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ancestry [or], national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Nothing in this act shall be construed to deny any person the right to regulate the operation of a business establishment or place of public accommodation or an enterprise regulated by the state in a manner [which] that applies uniformly to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, religion, ancestry, [or] national origin[;], sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression or to deny any religious organization the right to regulate the operation and procedures of its establishments.

Not all bills waiting in the rules committee are necessarily heard. Last year, as Utah’s Kitchen v. Herbert was making its way through the court system, all bills related to sexual orientation and gender identity were tabled.

On Tuesday, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a public statement that they favor nondiscrimination laws, so long as they are coupled with laws protecting “religious freedom.”

Members of the Senate Rules Committee are Chair Kevin T. Van Tassell (R-Vernal), Vice Chair Todd Weiler (R-Bountiful), Peter C. Knudson (R-Brigham City), Mark B. Madsen (R-Saratoga Springs), Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City), Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City), Deidre M. Henderson (R-Spanish Fork), David P. Hinkins (R-Orangeville), and Stephen H. Urquhart (R-St. George).

Sen. Urquhart has sponsored Senate Bill 100, which adds gender identity and sexual orientation to Utah’s employment Anti-discrimination Act and the Utah Fair Housing Act.

Neither bill yet has a House sponsor.

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