Monday, August 24, 2009

Provo Daily Herald Denounces Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker's "Crazy Quilt Gay Agenda", Believes Only State Legislature Should Address Civil Rights

On August 24th, 2009, the Salt Lake Tribune references an editorial column previously published by the Provo Daily Herald, which takes issue with Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's proposed nondiscrimination ordinance which would extend official "protection" to homosexuals and transgenders. As expected, the Tribune misrepresents the spirit and intent of the Herald's editorial, referring to it as "bashing".

The Herald editorial, entitled "Crazy quilt gay agenda in SLC", was published back on August 9th. Nowhere in the column does the Herald actually take issue with the substance of the proposed ordinance. Instead, they are concerned about the chaotic effects of having civil rights defined differently from one city to the next. It's O.K. to have local traffic laws to enable a city to define traffic safety; signs are posted to let people know what the rules are. Likewise, local ordinances properly regulating such things as planning and zoning, business licensing, and landlord-tenant relationships are also justified.

But the Herald contends that when the issues become bigger, the need for uniformity increases. Second Amendment rights are a prime example (Chicago has a more restrictive gun possession law than its surrounding suburbs, for example). The constitutional guarantee is jeopardized when every little town can pass drastically different laws regarding the possession of a firearm in a vehicle. It's ridiculous to make someone alternately a law-abiding citizen and a criminal as they drive in and out of different cities. It's a case for statewide uniformity.

Thus the Daily Herald concludes that only the Utah State Legislature should be allowed to write law with respect to basic civil rights. And they recommend that if Salt Lake passes their gay ordinance, the legislature should respond by immediately passing a statewide preemption statute covering discrimination, just like the statute that applies to firearms. Note that they are merely calling for a statewide standard - they are NOT advocating a specific definition for such a standard at this time. So as usual, the Salt Lake Tribune is making "much ado about nothing".

Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker has not actually crafted a draft ordinance yet, since he was taking public comments on the proposal up until August 21st, and he wanted public input before actually drafting the ordinance. However, he has presented elements of the proposed ordinance HERE. His goal is to unveil a draft to the city council by mid-September. This represents the culmination of efforts begin last winter, when Becker, along with then-City Council Chair Jill Remington Love requested the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission facilitate a public process on the subject of human rights. The Commission responded by hosting a Dialogue on Discrimination series. From this, the Commission unveiled its 2009 Discrimination Report, in which they touted a nondiscrimination ordinance as one of its four recommendations. You can view a copy of this report HERE.

While the report does document some legitimate cases of discrimination, it is an exercise in hysterical overkill. For example, one documented case is of "a hearing-impaired man [who] went to a public theater but was unable to hear the movie and there were no accommodations for him." Really? Anyone with half a brain knows that if you're deaf, it is stupid to go to a movie theater, because you're not going to be able to hear the movie. Since when does a business have an obligation to accomodate every nitnoid variable? Besides, going to a movie theater, UNLIKE visiting an official government agency, is NOT an essential life function.

If Mayor Becker plans on requiring privately-owned movie theaters to provide accomodations for deaf people, then his proposed nondiscrimination ordinance MUST be defeated.

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