Sen. Hatch reacts to new law protecting LGBT from workplace discrimination

Posted at 10:03 PM, Jul 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-22 00:03:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- President Obama signs an executive order Monday protecting the LGBT from workplace discrimination, but U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch wants religious organizations to be exempt.

"One of the surveys we did showed that 43 percent of our gay community and up to 65 percent of our transgender community have experienced discrimination in their employment in their state," said John Netto, president of the Utah Pride Center.

Nineteen municipalities in Utah have adopted city or countywide ordinances protecting the LGBT from discrimination in housing and the workplace.

Netto calls the President's executive order historic -- 24,000 companies will be held to a new standard.

The LGBT have been protected based on sexual orientation since 1998 but the new rule means 28 million federal workers and contractors will also get the same rights based on gender identity.

"In fact more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit against LGBT workers, so I firmly believe that it's time to address this injustice for every American," said President Obama.

Utah is not one of those states.

A Senate bill barring workplace discrimination never reached the floor for a vote this year. Netto thinks it will take a ruling on gay marriage from the U.S. Supreme Court before Utah takes any initiative to change its laws.

"I would frankly expect that the institutionalized discrimination we see in the workplace, and I call it institutionalized because the government supports that discrimination by not making laws against it, and I expect it to remain in Utah for quite some time," Netto said.

Utah's longest serving senator has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with President Obama's policies.

Hatch released a statement to FOX 13 saying in part:

"An executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination that lacks a clear religious exemption would demonstrate, yet again, the Obama administration`s consistent disregard for religious liberty."

"I would say that Sen. Orrin Hatch represents more than just the religious organizations in this state, that Sen. Hatch ought to be careful about what religion and what values of what religions he's supporting because I'm aware in this state there are religions that don't support his position," Netto said.

Despite Hatch's calls for a religious exemption, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been supportive of the local governments passing their own anti-discrimination ordinances and shared the same sentiment for the statewide law that was proposed last year.