Utah's Gay Employment Problem

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com January 19 2011 9:15 AM ET

As LGBT advocates in Utah prepare to push again for a statewide antidiscrimination law, a new study shows “pervasive and persistent” discrimination against employees in the state based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The study prepared by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles and Equality Utah will be distributed to state lawmakers Wednesday. In the past two sessions, the Republican-led legislature has rejected a statewide antidiscrimination law to protect LGBT people in housing and employment.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, “The report predicts that the Utah Labor Commission would receive 16 to 22 claims per year under a new law. Of the gay and bisexual Utahns surveyed, 44 percent said they have been fired or denied a job or a promotion due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Among transgender Utahns, 67 percent said they had received such treatment.”

Despite the new research, public support and a recent endorsement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for housing and employment protections in Salt Lake City and other municipalities, advocates expressed concern that the more conservative state legislature would reject the bill for the third time. Some Republicans said they wanted hard data, and not a self-reported study, but as of late December, no complaints had been filed in Salt Lake City or two other local municipalities where the new antidiscrimination ordinances took effect.