Equality Utah hosts town hall to support anti-discrimination ordinance in Provo

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jun 25, 2013

PROVO, Utah -- People packed into a town hall meeting in Provo Tuesday night to support a city wide anti-discrimination ordinance.

The LGBT community wants protections when it comes to housing and employment. There's at least one Provo City Council member who is trying to get enough traction for a vote. Councilman Sterling Beck said it's critical for Provo to pass it because that alone is stopping businesses from moving into the state.

Brandie Balken, the Executive Director for Equality Utah, was just one of the several leaders in the state who talked about supporting the ordinance at the town hall.

"I would really like to open this up as an open forum,” she said.

Most of the people inside the meeting were from the LGBT community.

"They really feel that it's time to pass an inclusive protections for workplace and housing for LGBT utahns and their families," said Alejandro Mora with Equality Utah.

He said there's a big appetite for an anti-discrimination ordinance, especially with what's happening nationally with The U.S. Supreme Court on the heels of making an historic ruling on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8, the California law banning same sex marriage.

Beck said it's important for the city to consider an ordinance because it's beginning to impact business in the state.

"One of the things we keep hearing from employers is that it's very difficult sometimes to attract people from other states into Utah because of false perceptions that it's not always the easiest community to fit in with,” he said.

Beck doesn't expect much resistance when it comes to equal employment rights for the LGBT community but could BYU housing get in the way?

"Housing will be interesting," he said.

"Any religious organization is completely exempt from anti-discrimination laws," said Clifford Rosky, who is a law professor at the University of Utah.

However, it's unclear if Brigham Young University's approved properties would fall under that category.

"BYU does control a lot of the [or] is involved with a lot of housing in Provo, and so it would be important they be at the table, so I hesitate to speak for them,” Beck said. “I don't know that they'll have a position, but it will be important to get their opinion on it.”

FOX 13 was unable to reach out to BYU for comment on this story because of the late evening hours. The anti-discrimination ordinance has yet to be introduced to the city council. Beck hopes to get it on the agenda within the next few months.