(KCPW News) Should Salt Lake City create a new administrative function to investigate discrimination complaints from gay and transgender residents, when discrimination claims are typically investigated by the state? That’s one issue the city council is discussing as it considers one of Mayor Ralph Becker’s initiatives, a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance. Councilman Soren Simonsen posed this question yesterday during the first city council debate on the issue.
“What’s the rationale for doing this as a local government,” Simonosen asked, “as opposed to adding in another phrase or sentence in the state law so that it becomes encompassing, rather than doing our own thing?”
Deputy Mayor David Everitt responded that the administration feels that it should only focus on what the city has the power to control. And other classes of individuals are already covered by state or federal nondiscrimination laws, while LGBT residents are not.
Another question that arose is why the administration has recommended implementing the ordinance in April, 2010, instead of immediately, assuming that it gets approved by the city council. Everitt says that’s to give the state legislature some “breathing room,” in order to review the proposal before it goes into effect.
“We’re acting in good faith by not waiting and then passing it the day after the session ends and thereby trying to be sneaky about it,” Everitt said. “That isn’t something we’re interested in doing. We want to be as up front with what we’re doing as possible.”
The ordinance would protect residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing and in the workplace, with certain exemptions. A public hearing is scheduled for November 10.