BREAKING NEWS! Ogden Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinances!

Posted By on March 15, 2011

Ogden, Utah – In a huge surprise, the Ogden City Council has just voted unanimously to overturn Mayor Godfrey’s veto and pass the non-discrimination ordinances! Congratulations Ogden!

After a frantic week of work by activists, all 3 holdouts on the city council changed their vote and voted 7-0 to overturn the veto by Mayor Matthew Godfrey and pass the non-discrimination ordinances which prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The change came after equality-advocates agreed to add language to the laws which made it clear that the ordinances in no way would violate the 1st amendment, religious freedom or free speech.

The public comments were still as entertaining as ever, with members of Dave Mallinak’s Baptist church claiming that no christian could ever respect “god” and support the “gay lifestyle.”

Equality wins the day once again. The tidal wave of equality sweeps forward, even across the rocky terrain of Utah!

Ogden is now officially the 12th city/municipality in Utah to pass the non-discrimination ordinances. Statewide the public has indicated 3 seperate times that over 70% of them support these fair and just laws, now if only the legislature would actually listen to their constituents next year!

Send your thanks to the Ogden City Council from the lgbt community here!

About The Author

Eric Ethington
Eric Ethington has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Eric’s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Public Eye magazine. He’s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. Follow him on Twitter @EricEthington

Comments

12 Responses to “BREAKING NEWS! Ogden Passes Non-Discrimination Ordinances!”

  1. mikaela says:

    i was there tonight and i am so happy it passed!

  2. Peggy Bon says:

    It was a long night. There were several items on the Agenda ahead of the Ordinances (they were New Business, the Ordinances, being re-considered, were Old Business, so the other items had to be handled first) and so we didn’t get started on the Ordinances until maybe 9:30! But after that things went fairly quickly and smoothly and I think all factions feel vindicated and pleased by what we have as a final product. I so sincerely thank all those who crafted this compromise. It’s been a long year. But we have very good Ordinances in Ogden. Thank you to EVERYONE who helped in any way. We did this together; it took all of us. And we did it. Thank you.

  3. Former Utahn says:

    For all the religious frothing that the zealots do, they sure seem to forget the basic tenet behind Christianity:

    Love God, Love Others.

    Screaming that you are defending the Bible, Christianity or anything else pertaining to God by effectively alienating and persecuting your fellow man (or woman! :) ) just reeks of hypocrisy and portrays the Body of Christ in a vile light.

    To the LDS church leaders, I offer this advice: Re-think how you treat the LGBT community – every day that goes by, you seem to inch yourselves closer and closer to the Westboro Baptist Church in your views.

  4. Kris Thompson says:

    I’m confused–if the religious “exemption” was allowed to stand, and nothing prohibiting city employees from discriminating was actually included (aside from a promise that an easy-to-be-overturned mayoral dictate would be forthcoming at some later date), what was accomplished here, other than some feel-good politicking and hand patting? Small businesses and small landlords exempted, too–what does that mean?

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but unless I’ve been seriously misinformed, what passed can hardly be considered a resounding victory. Maybe a starting point, but I fear it’s too weak to have any real effect or benefit, and the folks who were against it will hold it up in the future as an obstacle to better, stronger, more meaningful ordinances.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  5. [...] cities like Ogden, Utah are able to do things like this, it’s just another indicator of how much we’ve already won the “culture [...]

  6. Cameron says:

    I second Kris. This really isn’t a victory. Please don’t thank the city council for this. There are too many loop holes, too much protection of others in an LGBT protection ordinance. And the fine for anyone willing to get caught is a paltry $500. Let’s celebrate real victories. This is not even close to a victory.

  7. Amy Wicks says:

    Kris,

    Here is thew wording that was adopted last night-

    [Expression of Religious and Other Beliefs:] A person’s actual or symbolic religious or other deeply held beliefs, shall not be the sole basis for a finding of discrimination under this chapter. Expressions of religious or other deeply held beliefs are exempt from this chapter, provided they do not become so pervasive or severe as to alter the terms, conditions or privileges of employment. Religious or other deeply held beliefs may not, however, excuse conduct that otherwise violates this chapter. This chapter is intended to prohibit discriminatory conduct, not punish beliefs or the expression thereof.

    An administrative order was enacted yesterday:
    citydocs.ogdencity.com/FileGetter/getFile.aspx?Doc=00011969.PDF
    protecting Ogden City employees and we are now scrambling to update our equal employment opportunity law which has not been updated since 1999 to include sexual orientation and gender identity as well. There was not time to properly discuss and provide adequate public notice for this before we needed to address the ordinance facing a veto from the mayor that was passed last week. so, this is next on our list of actions.

  8. Kris Thompson says:

    Thank you, Amy–I appreciate your time.

    “Expressions of religious or other deeply held beliefs are exempt from this chapter, provided they do not become so pervasive or severe as to alter the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”

    And that’s the hitch right there–who’s to say what’s “severe” and what’s not? Who’s to say what counts as pervasive enough to alter the conditions of employment, and why should anyone in the workplace have to put up with bigoted garbage, regardless of how pervasive? What, one “God hates fags” crack a day is okay, but three is “pervasive?” Simple expressions of faith (say, certain Biblical quotations) can be incredibly discriminatory, but they are just simple expressions of faith. Where’s the line, and do we trust the local community of “churches and families” to make that determination? Let’s face it–most municipalities didn’t do such a bang-up job when the issue was blacks and discrimination. It took the Feds to make that one fly.

    I cheer for the symbolic “win” here, but there’s a long way to go before this can be considered anything but a Band-aid or a stepping-stone. I cringe at the idea of an ordinance that exempts “expressions of religious or other deeply held beliefs.” How is telling people “It’s not okay to say awful things to the people you work with unless you really, really believe it AND you’re careful to stay on this side of some nebulous line” in keeping with the idea of NON-discrimination? I get that this was a compromise. I just don’t know that compromising with people who want to preserve and protect the “right” to discriminate is such a good thing.

    I HATE to be negative about this, I do. I so wanted for this to be an unqualified victory. But right now, I don’t see it. I see a SYMBOLIC advance, and while that’s a good thing, I fear it will never go beyond this, that complacence and fear of being labeled “anti-religion” will keep it from going any further.

  9. [...] big thank you to PRIDE in Utah and everyone who spread they word about this very important issue and rallied together to support [...]

  10. Amy Wicks says:

    Here’s our reasoning…sorry for the cut and paste, I’m on my iPhone.
    New Section G: religious/speech language
     
    [Employment Ordinance]
    A person’s religious or other deeply held beliefs, shall not be the sole basis for a finding of discrimination under this chapter.  Expressions of religious belief are exempt from this chapter, provided they do not become so pervasive or severe as to alter the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.  Religious or other deeply held beliefs may not however, legally justify or excuse conduct that otherwise violates this chapter.  This chapter is intended to prohibit conduct, not punish beliefs. 
     
    [Housing Ordinance]
    A person’s religious or other deeply held beliefs, shall not be the sole basis for a finding of discrimination under this chapter.  Expressions of religious belief are exempt from this chapter, provided they do not become so severe or pervasive as to alter the terms, conditions or privileges of renting a home/unit.  Religious or other deeply held beliefs may not however, legally justify or excuse conduct that otherwise violates this chapter.  This chapter is intended to prohibit conduct, not punish beliefs. 
     
    Explanation:
     
    This proposed amendment is intended to address the first two concerns described above.  It incorporates the standard that has been universally adopted for determining other forms of discriminatory harassment, such as sexual harassment.  State and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have made clear that anti-harassment standards are not intended to be “civility codes.”  Rather, they apply where conduct is so “severe” or “pervasive” that it impacts the “terms, conditions or privileges” of the right at issue, be it employment, education or housing.  Thus, “isolated incidents” and “stray remarks” are insufficient to result in actionable harassment claims.  By incorporating this standard here, that well-settled body of law provides a predictable reference for distinguishing that which is allowable from the point where harassment may legitimately be claimed.
     
    This standard protects occasional expressions of one’s deeply held beliefs with which others might disagree.  Only when such communications are so frequent or objectively offensive that they can reasonably be viewed as altering one’s job or living arrangement may they serve as the basis for a grievance.  Thus, these ordinances would strike the same balance between the right of free expression and the right to work or live in an environment free from unwelcome conduct that has been developed in other forms of discriminatory harassment law.
     

  11. Amy Wicks says:

    Cameron,

    I supported higher fines but that option did not seem too palatable to my fellow Council Members. The wording discussed above is along the lines of other antidiscrimination ordinances and is well defined based upon a mountain of case law. The ordinance is not perfect in my eyes, but it is better than what we had, which would have been most certainly vetoed by the mayor and likely not to be upheld by the council without super-majority support.

    It’s not a loss, it’s a small victory and has brought together a very diverse, involved and supportive group in our community.

  12. Kris Thompson says:

    I do agree that there is a small victory here–the symbolism here may come to count for a lot, even if the ‘nuts and bolts’ aren’t all we hoped for. I do agree that it is better than what we had, and I hope that it becomes the basis for even better than what we now have.

    Again, thank you for your time, Amy, and for managing it on a cell–a feat that might have left me thumb-tied and twisted.

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