Lawmakers discuss effort to halt consideration of LGBT rights bills in Utah

Posted at 9:37 PM, Feb 01, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah senator is calling on Utahns for support for a bill after he said Utah’s Attorney General convinced state House and Senate Republican leaders to halt consideration on all bills involving LGBT rights this legislative session.

Senator Steve Urquhart, R – District 29, is sponsoring Senate Bill 100, which seeks to ban discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Urquhart held a press conference Friday, during which he asked Utahns to tape notes to the State Senate doors that say “Hear S.B. 100.”

The Attorney General’s counsel reportedly told Republican leaders that any debate over LGBT rights in the state could influence federal judges’ in the current legal battle surrounding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Urquhart spoke about the issue.

“The concern is animus, that's the word, is hatred, that in the same-sex marriage case we wouldn't want to show that there's hostility, animus, toward the LGBT community,” he said. “If that's the case, then let's hear this bill and let's not show animus when we discuss it.”

Senate Republican leaders said they support Amendment Three, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, and they said they are worried debate over such bills could give the courts a reason to overturn Amendment Three.

Sen. Ralph Okerlund,  R-District 24, is the Senate Majority Leader, and he said: “We feel like other discussions are only going to detract from that which is our focus. We want to stay focused on that effort to defend our citizens’ amendment, which passed by a large majority.”

The House and Senate each have what is called a rules committee, which meets behind closed doors to decide which bills will be considered, when they will be considered and which committees will hear them.