Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (Republican – Sandy) told the media that, despite the enormous and unorthodox outcry from the public demanding to hear Senator Steve Urquhart’s (Republican – St. George) non-discrimination bill, SB 100, he will not move the bill forward through the legislative process.
Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate decided early on this year that due to the pending appeal of a December ruling by Judge Shelby striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, the legislature would not hear any pro or anti LGBT bills this session. At a meeting with House Republicans last week, Attorney General Sean Reyes reportedly told them that if they let any LGBT-related bills receive a public testimony, it was inevitable that a lawmaker or member of the public would say something offensive which, according to Reyes, could damage the state’s case for appeal.
“This highlights the energy behind the [same-sex marriage debate] this year. Although there isn’t a direct tie to the marriage issue [with the non-discrimination bill], there is a lot of emotion out there” Niederhauser told the press. “This is an emotional time,” Neiderhauser continued, “lets stop and pull our faculties here together, and address other issues this session and wait for the process and appeal to take place, and we will come back at another time to address religious liberties and anti-discrimination.”
The process of lifting a bill without the consent of Senate leadership is not impossible, but it is extremely difficult.
“We need to take some time, not get too anxious. The best policy is the policy that takes some time and has had a lot of deliberation. Obviously Judge Shelby’s decision has created a new dynamic this session that we haven’t had in others, but we still feel it is best to focus on the appeal and wait to discuss the issues.”
President Neiderhauser then pressed the fact that he and his Republican colleagues in the Senate support the appeal, “and feel the people have spoken with Amendment 3. We feel it is our duty to defend the jurisdiction the states have had since its beginning over marriage.”
Both Senate President Niederhauser and Representative Jake Anderegg (Republican – Lehi) were at the center of a small scandal on Twitter this morning, after they made light of issues that face Transgender individuals. See the tweets below.
After nearly a 100 tweets from various community members went after the two lawmakers, Niederhauser sent out a new tweet blaming his intern for the inflammatory message. “My response to [Representative Anderegg] at 10:32 this morning was an intern tweet. It does not represent my point of view,” said Niederhauser. Representative Anderegg apologized outright, saying “My earlier comments regarding Transgender issues was totally inappropriate. I own it. And I apologize.”
Niederhauser says that all Senate interns will be receiving sensitivity training this evening, and that he has asked TEA of Utah and the LGBT Resource Center from the UofU to conduct the meeting.
However, many in the LGBT community are saying that while it’s nice the Senator says he has “deep respect” for them, he could show it better by allowing a public hearing on the non-discrimination bill.