In a Friday afternoon press conference at the doors of the Utah Senate Chamber, Utah Senator Steve Urquhart (Republican – St. George) has begun an avalanche of blue paper.
Now, Senator Urquhart has asked Utahns to come to the Capitol and write the words “HEAR SB 100” onto the meeting request forms, to ask their legislators to move his non-discrimination bill through the process where it can receive an up-or-down vote once again. Noting that his bill currently is in the rules committee, Urquhart said, “I don’t believe that it is bottlenecked there, or in any way is being held up.”
During the 45 day legislative session, members of the public are given 5″x7″ slips of blue paper by ushers on which they can write notes to lawmakers, either voicing opinions or requesting a meeting.
SB 100, Urquhart’s bill that would make it illegal for certain employers and landlords to fire or evict an individual from their job or home simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is stuck in legislative limbo, with Republican leadership refusing to allow it to be heard in committee or the floor.
The move came one day after a public outcry on twitter forced the conservative lobbyist group Sutherland Institute to pull their ad advocating against the non-discrimination bill off of multiple Utah television stations, admitting the ad was not truthful when it implied that BYU housing would be subject to the law—the non-discrimination law specifically exempts student housing.
Urquhart condemned what he described as a massive misinformation campaign by Sutherland Institute president Paul Mero, and Eagle Forum president, Gayle Ruzicka, to mislead the public about what the law would actually do. Urquhart previously told UPC that “the basic principal behind the bill is straight forward: we should all have an opportunity to earn a living and keep a roof over our heads. Gay and transgendered people are good, hardworking people with families, just like everyone else.”
At the press conference, he also pointed out the multiple statewide polls conducted over the past few years that show 73 percent of the public supports the passage of the bill. “That’s the job of legislative bodies, to do the will of the people, so it’s time to pass nondiscrimination laws statewide,” Urquhart said.
The Southern Utah senator is asking for a “massive outpouring of support” from the public, encouraging citizens to add their own blue slips of paper to the door of the Senate. “Come up to the Capitol and let your senator know it’s time to solve this issue,” Urquhart said.
“These are our most basic necessities,” added Brandie Balken, executive directer of Equality Utah. “This is housing, this is employment; this is what we all need to participate in our society in a productive way. We [as Utahns] have to have the opportunity to achieve these things, to achieve our piece of the American Dream… We don’t believe that any Utahn should live in fear of losing their home or their jobs, simply because of who they are.’ Utahns are fair minded.” she continued, “They care about their neighbors and they care about their communities and they want to do the right thing.”
As of Sunday evening, it was estimated that over 200 notes had been placed on the Senate Chamber doors, though some have been removed by an unknown source.