OGDEN -- An Equality Utah official is hopeful a planned Jan. 7 meeting with Mayor Matthew Godfrey will resolve legal issues, allowing the adoption of a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Hopefully, we will see progress to move forward," said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, a Salt Lake City organization that aims to secure equal rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns and their families.
Godfrey declined Tuesday to comment on what issues will be discussed with Balken.
"We would like to have a meeting with them rather than through the media," he said.
James Humphreys, an Ogden resident who first presented the ordinance to the city council in April, is upset because his proposal hasn't been voted on. He said Godfrey is stalling and has refused to meet with him.
"The administration is dragging its feet on purpose," he said. "The mayor doesn't want the ordinance passed. He wants it to go away."
Humphrey said he expects Godfrey next week to ask Balken to accept a nonbinding anti-discrimination joint resolution from the administration and city council instead of an enforceable ordinance.
"A resolution is completely unacceptable and not worth the paper it's printed on," he said.
Equality Utah also would prefer that the council adopt an ordinance instead of a resolution that has no legal teeth, Balken said.
"We see a resolution as very much like the Golden Rule," she said.
City Council Chairwoman Caitlin Gochnour said she's awaiting the outcome of next week's meeting between Godfrey and Balken before determining what the next step may be.
City Councilman Brandon Stephenson, who frequently supports Godfrey's initiatives, said he hasn't made a decision on the proposed ordinance.
"I would like to see us come up with something, but I'm not sure what," he said. "I'm just waiting for some answers to some legal questions."
An anti-discrimination ordinance is needed in Ogden, said City Council Vice Chairwoman Susie Van Hooser.
"It's a human right to be valued for who you are," she said.
Humphrey believes there is enough support on the council to get the anti-discrimination ordinance passed. If that happens, it will be interesting to see if Godfrey vetoes the council's vote, he added.
In addition to adopting an ordinance or resolution, the city council could decide not to take any action on Humphrey's proposal, said Bill Cook, the council's executive director. It hasn't been determined when the council may vote on the issue, he said.
Humphrey's proposal is patterned after anti-discrimination laws in effect in Salt Lake City and elsewhere in Utah.
The ordinance would prevent companies with more than 15 employees from taking job actions such as hiring or firing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The ordinance also prevents landlords who own more than four rental units from terminating, accepting or denying rental agreements on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The ordinance has certain exemptions built in for religious and other organizations and could carry fines for violations based on city code.
In addition to Salt Lake City, municipalities that have adopted similar ordinances include Park City, Logan, West Valley, Taylorsville, Murray, Moab, Salt Lake County, Summit County and Grand County.
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