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Rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender () people in are among the most extensive in the . Protective laws have become increasingly enacted since 2014, despite the state's reputation as socially conservative and highly religious.
Same-sex marriage has been legal there since the state's ban on was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court on October 6, 2014. In addition, statewide anti-discrimination laws now cover sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing. In spite of this, there are still a few differences between treatment of LGBT people and the rest of the population. in Criminalization of same-sex sexual activity began since people of European descent first established a federally recognized government in the region.
In 1851, the theocratic Legislature of the newly formed (over which acted as both Utah Governor and president and oversaw the selection of the legislators) passed the first law addressing same-sex sexual behavior which banned any "man or boy" from "sexual intercourse with any of the male creation" with penalties left to the courts' discretion. : 1200 This would later evolve into the Utah (Utah Code Section 76-5-403) which criminalized same-sex sexual activity until 2003 when the invalidated all state sodomy laws with its landmark 6 to 3 opinion in .
The opinion stated that private consensual sexual conduct is protected by the and rights that are guaranteed by the . The state sodomy law applied to and as a Class B , and provided punishment of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Openly gay Utah Senator , D-, sponsored the bill, S.B. 169 ("Sodomy Amendments"), unsuccessfully in 2007. The bill would have amended the state sodomy law by repealing its unconstitutional parts.
The bill failed without consideration. The law remains published in the Utah Code. After lobbying in 2011 by gay activist , the Utah amended its administrative rule which restricted the issuance of the state to individuals who were ever convicted of violating the state . See also: and Same-sex marriage in Utah has been legal since October 6, 2014, following the resolution of a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage was also legal in Utah, from December 20, 2013 to January 6, 2014. In response to the 1993 court case on in , Utah Representative Norm L. Nielsen, R-, sponsored the bill, H.B. 366 ("Recognition of Marriages"), in 1995. The bill passed the . It prohibits state recognition of same-sex marriages which are performed in other and . It was the first such law in the . Utah approved the ballot , , in 2004 that constitutionally defines as the legal union between a man and a woman and restricts unmarried .
The referendum was approved by a margin of 65.8 percent to 33.2 percent. On March 25, 2013, three same-sex couples, including one already married in Iowa, filed a lawsuit in the seeking to declare Utah's prohibition on the recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. The court heard arguments on December 4. The state argued that there was "nothing unusual" in enforcing policies that encourage "responsible procreation" and the "optimal mode of child-rearing".
Plaintiffs' attorney contended that the policy is "based on prejudice and bias that is religiously grounded in this state". On December 20, 2013, District Judge found the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional and ordered the state to cease enforcing the ban. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the order of the District Court on January 6, 2014 pending the appeal of its decision to the Tenth Circuit. On June 25, 2014, the Tenth Circuit upheld the lower court ruling, a decision that sets a precedent for every state within the circuit.
However, the Tenth Circuit stayed this ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court refused the appeal from the state on October 6, 2014, requiring Utah to license and recognize same-sex marriages. Utah Representative Nora B. Stephens, R-, sponsored the bill, H.B. 103 ("Amendments to Child Welfare"), in 1998. It passed the Legislature. The law requires state agencies to give priority to married couples and to prohibit adoptions by unmarried couples. Openly lesbian Utah Representative , D-Salt Lake, spoke against the bill.
A single person can adopt in Utah, except that by Utah law "a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage." A single person not cohabiting can adopt. Utah law states that "a child may be adopted by adults who are legally married to each other in accordance with the laws of this state, including adoption by a stepparent." On December 20, 2013, same-sex marriage became legal in Utah; thus legalizing same-sex adoption for same-sex couples.
However, the U.S. Supreme court stayed the order. On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and the hold was lifted. Utah's capital, , and its suburbs have the highest rate — 26 percent — of same-sex couples sharing parenthood, according to an analysis of census data by the at the .
Did not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment On March 6, 2015, the passed, in a 23-5 vote, statewide legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing (public accommodation not included) with exemptions for religious organisations and their affiliates such as schools and hospitals, as well as .
The bill also would protect employees from being fired for talking about religious or moral beliefs, as long as the speech was reasonable and not harassing or disruptive.
The measure was backed by the . It was approved by the on March 11, in a 65-10 vote. On March 12, 2015, Governor signed the bill into law. Prior to that, Utah Representative , D-Salt Lake, sponsored an anti-discrimination bill, H.B. 89 ("Antidiscrimination Act Amendments"), in 2008.
The bill, however, failed to pass the Legislature. It would have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. She reintroduced the bill unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2010. She also sponsored the bill, H.B. 128 ("Antidiscrimination Study Related to Employment and Housing"), in 2010. The bill would have required a study of employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Utah Governor appointed openly gay in 2011 to replace Utah Representative Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake, when she resigned from the .
Common Ground Initiative In response to the adoption in 2008 of California's , leaders launched the group's Common Ground Initiative. The initiative included the introduction of five bills at the Utah Legislature to protect the equal rights of LGBT people in the state. The bills reflected the opinion of leaders who had said that they did not object to the legislation.
leaders delivered 27,000 letters to church leaders in support of the legislation. Church leaders declined to comment on the matter. The measures of the initiative failed, some in committee.
In response to the LDS Church statements, Equality Utah leaders lobbied successfully for the adoption of similar bills in 12 counties and cities in the state including: Salt Lake County (population 1,029,655), Salt Lake City (population 186,440), (population 129,480), (population 82,825), (population 57,439), (population 49,534), (population 46,746), (population 29,736), (population 27,029), (population 8,485), (population 7,731) and (population 4,779).
University of Utah University of Utah administrators adopted a policy in 1991 to prohibit employment discrimination including that based on Administrators extended the policy in 1996 to prohibit discrimination in faculty duties, in 1997 to prohibit discrimination in student rights and responsibilities, and in 2009 to prohibit discrimination in student admissions.
Salt Lake City Utah gay activist David Nelson wrote and lobbied unsuccessfully in 1986 for the adoption of a Salt Lake City Council to create a city and to prohibit discrimination, the first such proposal in Utah. Nelson lobbied successfully from 1986 to 1987 for the adoption of a LGBT policy, the first such policy in Utah.
Salt Lake City Council members adopted two bills in 2009 and 2010 which prohibit employment and housing discrimination (except by religious groups) based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
LDS Church leaders said before the adoption that they supported the bills and that they could be a model for the rest of the state. Salt Lake County Utah gay activist David Nelson wrote and lobbied successfully in 1992 for the adoption of a Salt Lake County ordinance to prohibit discrimination including that based on sexual orientation, the first such laws in Utah, and lobbied successfully in 1995 against the repeal of the "marital status" and "sexual orientation" protections.
Leaders of the county Gay and Lesbian Employee Association were critical of Nelson and others who opposed the repeal, and said that he "did not speak for GLEA" "or for any of its members." A rainbow flag at the 2014 Salt Lake City Pride parade The Utah House of Representatives , Representative Frank R.
Pignanelli, D-Salt Lake, sponsored the bills, H.B. 111 ("Hate Crimes Statistics Act") and H.B. 112 ("Hate Crimes Penalties -- Civil Rights Violation"), successfully in 1992. The laws require the state Department of Public Safety to collect and publish statistics about hate crimes which are committed in the state, and provide for an enhanced penalty for the commission of a hate crime.
Utah gay activist David Nelson helped write the bills. Attempts were made unsuccessfully from 1992 to 1999 for the adoption of an amendment of the laws. Bullying Utah has enacted anti-bullying legislation several times since 2006, detailing prohibited behavior and increasing the reporting requirements for local school boards. LGBT rights advocates have campaigned for faster and more sensitive responses from school officials and highlighted the problem of gay teen suicide.
A law passed in 2013 requires school administrators to notify parents if their child is bullied. The new requirement arose as a direct response to the suicide of gay 14-year-old David Phan, whose family had never known he was the object of bullying. Some LGBT activists have objected that it might result in students being outed to their families, which may not always be in the child's best interest.
They have recommended that schools train teachers in the importance of family acceptance, establish guidelines for parental notification, and discuss what they will say with the student. In order for transgender people in Utah to change their legal gender on their birth certificates, they must submit a certified court order changing their name and gender.
is not required. Upon the receipt of the court order, "the amendment shall be registered with and become a part of the original certificate and a certified copy shall be issued to the applicant without additional cost". Utah Representative , R-Salt Lake, sponsored the bill, H.B. 225 ("Driver License Amendments"), unsuccessfully in 2009. The bill would have provided that "if a person requests to change the sex designation on a or , the Driver License Division shall issue a duplicate driver license or new identification card upon receiving: an application and fee for a duplicate driver license or identification card; and written verification from a licensed that the applicant has undergone and completed ." In 2011, Utah employees denied mistreatment of a transgender woman who was required to remove her makeup before she could be photographed for a new state identification card.
A witness said that the employees appeared to be making fun of the transgender woman. The woman was invited to meet with the division director. Besides male (M) and female (F), Utah identity documents are available with an "" sex descriptor. An individual seeking such a marker must receive approval from a judge. The 2018 edition of Pride Student clubs students created a in 2005. is considered to be one of the most conservative cities in the country. In response, some residents asked the Provo School District Board of Education to shut down the group.
However, the board members concluded it would violate federal law to do so, and instead created a new policy requiring parental signatures to join any school clubs. No promo homo laws On October 21, 2016, filed a lawsuit with the against the to strike down a law forbidding the promotion of homosexuality in schools.
On March 8, 2017, the passed SB196, which removed the phrase "the advocacy of homosexuality" from the law. On March 20, 2017, Governor signed SB196 into law. The law went into effect on July 1, 2017. The repealed stated "[T]he materials adopted by a local school board . . . shall be based upon recommendations of the school district’s Curriculum Materials Review Committee that comply with state law and state board rules emphasizing before marriage and after marriage, and prohibiting instruction in the ." Utah Code § 53A-13-101.
As of March 2017, the U.S. states of , , , , , and still have anti-LGBT curriculum laws in schools. Support for legal recognition of same-sex relationships When Organizer Same-sex marriage Civil union No legal recognition November 2004 UCEP 21% 25% 54% January 2009 UVC 20% 43% 37% November 2010 UCEP 24% 41% 35% February 2012 UCEP 28% 43% 29% An which was conducted in 2010 by found that Utah ranks last among all states in support of same-sex marriage.
With 22 percent of respondents who favored it, the rate of support had increased 10 percent since 1994-1996. An opinion poll which was conducted in 2011 by found 27 percent of Utah voters believed that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 66 percent believed it should be illegal and 7 percent were not sure.
A separate question in the survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 23 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 37 percent supporting civil unions, while 39 percent opposed all legal recognition and 1 percent were not sure.
A poll taken by from January 10–13, 2014 found that Utah residents were evenly split on whether same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licences — 48% for and 48% against. 4% were uncertain. Some 72% said same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions that provide the same legal rights as marriage. A 2017 poll found that 54% of Utah residents supported same-sex marriage, while 38% were opposed and 8% were unsure.
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