West Valley leaders approve LGBT non-discrimination ordinance

WEST VALLEY CITY (Deseret News June 3, 2010) — The West Valley City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday night that will protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from discrimination on housing or employment in the city.

West Valley becomes the fifth Utah municipality to implement ordinances to protect residents from housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

West Valley leaders’ action follows those of officials in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Park City and most recently Logan in extending the statewide Utah Antidiscrimination Act to include protections for the LGBT community in their areas.

As the City Council meeting opened the floor for residents to speak, again and again they voiced their support for the ordinance.

“I’m a property owner,” said Stacia Ireland, a West Valley resident. “I don’t have to worry about being kicked out of my apartment. I’m retired. I don’t have to worry about my job being threatened. But I know there are people out there who do have these concerns.”

The “grass-roots feel” of support for the ordinance was something Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, noted about each municipality that has passed such laws.

“Within each of these cities, each of these counties, residents have stood up and said, ‘You know, this is important to me, to my community, and I want to see this happen in my community,’ ” Balken said.

Equality Utah is a nonprofit group that created the “Ten in 2010” initiative to have 10 cities in Utah pass ordinances that protect LGBT people at work and at home.

In addition to the five municipalities with antidiscrimination ordinances in place, Balken has talked to officials in eight other cities and counties about doing something similar. Leaders in Taylorsville, Summit County, Moab, Granite County, Torrey, Cedar City, Ogden and Weber County all have expressed interest in such ordinances, she said.

Whether the 2011 state legislative session includes a statewide law that mirrors these city ordinances and add to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act remains up in the air.

In the 2010 session, lawmakers on both sides of the argument agreed to allow the Salt Lake City ordinance to play out for a better understanding on the impact such laws have on landlords, business owners and community members. In a stalemate, both conceded in pushing forward any legislation on the issue. But in next year’s session, Salt Lake City will have had the ordinance in place for more than a year, giving lawmakers insight on how the laws are used in communities.

“There’s a lot of people in the state who want to do the right thing,” said West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, “but they often need the template of how to do that right thing, and the Salt Lake City ordinance has provided that template.”

The West Valley City ordinance passed by a 5-1 vote.

Winder, who voted in favor of the ordinance, will sign it and make its passage official at 4 p.m. June 8 at West Valley City Hall, 3600 S. Constitution Blvd.

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