Op-ed: Delaying anti-discrimination bill is simple injustice

By Sim Gill


First Published Feb 08 2014 01:01 am
Last Updated Feb 08 2014 01:01 am

The non-discrimination bill, currently stuck in unnecessary fears and hesitation, is an opportunity for intellectual honesty or an abdication of responsibility.

Anything that may remotely be connected to LGBT issues is being put on hold. Under such an approach, we should just shut down the Legislature because almost any legislation will impact some gay person. Gay citizens are a part of our social and political community. All laws impact all of us, LGBT included.

This is really about a moment of truth. There is no mystery, and as Sen. Stephen Urquhart stated, and we know, the subject of SB100 has been under discussion, vetted and ratified already in multiple communities in Utah.

The fairness has been recognized by the LDS Church and recognized by a majority of Utah citizens. The sky did not darken, chaos did not ensue. Life went on in pretty much in the same way with the knowledge that a host of communities recognized what was just and fair — contrasted with cruel, indefensible and both morally and legally wrong.

So now, an excuse — forgive me I don’t know how else to say it — is being sought out to compromise an issue of fairness under the guise of some litigation consequence. Again, here is a thought experiment. Say that the U.S. Supreme Court were to uphold Amendment 3. The communities that have ratified and supported the non-discrimination ordinances were not violating any laws of this state, and will not, even if Amendment 3 were upheld.

What it comes down to is the underlying doctrine, rationalization and the truth of an idea that people deserve equality, that fear should not be empowered in ways that discriminate against fellow human beings and citizens; that what is morally, ethically and legally wrong should not and cannot be sanctioned by us as a community.

This has nothing to do with gay marriages but everything to do with all of us ­— as representatives of a promise in democracy, as elected leaders whose responsibility is as equally binding and owed to every citizen of our community, not only those who elected them but to every citizen, even those with whom they may disagree.

The intellectual honesty of every elected official is to open the door of government to every citizen and to offer fairness and justice. To do otherwise is to abdicate the principles on which they took their oath.

It has been suggested that the bill going forward may reveal "animus" toward the LGBT community by debate. Such a statement betrays the very concerns this bill addresses. Specifically, such animus or hatred is irrational and unfair in discriminating against any citizen. Either we discriminate and tolerate treating fellow citizens with unnecessary and unjust disdain, or we are better than such base seductions.

If the mirror of fear reveals what we do not like, then the answer is not to put the mirror away but to confront it with actions that confirm fairness and justice.

Yes, a moment in truth not only for those who hunger for justice and protection but also those who would wear the robes of honor in their name. Intellectual honesty is also a part of leadership as much as the courage to act upon it in the face of irrational fear.

It is time to acknowledge what the good citizens of multiple communities have already ratified. Recognizing injustices is not a compromise of values but a validation of ideals that we teach to our children daily and embrace as a community. It is time to both hear and pass the non-discrimination bill. To do otherwise would be, well, an injustice.

Sim Gill is Salt Lake County district attorney.

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