Written by Alex Ellis
As most people in Utah probably know by now, same-sex marriage is now legal in our state, of all places. Though it had already been legal for a short period last year in December, the state, led by Attorney General Sean Reyes and Gov. Gary Herbert, fought a long and costly legal battle at the expense of Utah taxpayers. Fighting through appeal after appeal, the case finally reached its climax at the beginning of this month when the Supreme Court refused to hear it along with similar cases from other states.
By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court upheld the original December decision to strike down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. Once again, the judicial system has protected the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Surely James Madison is smiling. In an ironic twist of fate, Attorney General Reyes and Gov. Herbert have brought same-sex marriage to Utah by spending millions of taxpayer money to fight that. Now there’s something to remember come election time.
While same-sex marriage may be legal now, the plight of LGBT community members is not yet over in Utah. In this state there still exists a strong anti-gay sentiment among many of the citizens, especially in the smaller, more conservative parts such as St. George. Here we can see active discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens, including the denial of jobs and housing.
Sen. Steve Urquhart has been working hard to fight against this discrimination. For years he has tried to get a statewide nondiscrimination bill passed, and for years he has failed to even get a hearing in the state legislature. However, local governments have taken an active stand against discrimination and Utah lawmakers with much more success. Salt Lake, Murray, Springdale, and other cities across Utah all have local nondiscrimination ordinances to protect citizens from being discriminated against due to their sexuality or gender identity, and it’s possible St. George may join that list soon.
Columnist and LGBT activist Matthew Jacobson is leading the push for such an ordinance. He has already written letters to the city council members, and he will be officially presenting the ordinance to the council at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6. He will also be bringing LGBT members of the St. George community to share their stories of discrimination to show why such an ordinance is needed.
This will be a very important moment in St. George history. Although Sen. Urquhart plans to reintroduce his bill during the next legislative session, the idea of equal rights is fundamental to the documents this country was founded on and it should not wait for anyone or anything. If you are an LGBT member or ally, or just a freedom-loving, socially conscious member of the St. George community, then it is imperative that you attend the city council meeting on Nov. 6. Together we can make a change, and stand up for the basic rights which all people deserve.