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Anti discrimination bill in Utah draws criticism

SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – An anti discrimination bill is still weeks away from being introduced, but it's already drawing a lot of attention.
SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – An anti discrimination bill is still weeks away from being introduced, but it's already drawing a lot of attention.

It caught some by surprise when the bill passed committee last year.

Now supporters are hoping that momentum will carry the bill even further this year.

Opponents say the bill does the very thing it's designed to fight, discriminate.

The bill protects gay, lesbian and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace and housing.

"Everybody should be able to have a place to live and a place to work, without fear and not have to hide who they are," said Teinamarrie Scuderi with Universal Heart Ministry.

Opponents say creating a protected class just isn't necessary in Utah.

"Most people don't even think about that. They hire who they want to hire and if a person who is homosexual is most qualified that's who they hire," said Gayle Ruzicka, President of Utah Eagle Forum.

Her group is one of several pro family, conservative organizations to join forces in the fight against the bill.

"We discriminate against the property owner and the business owner when we start to tell them exactly who they can or can not hire or fire," said Ruzicka.

The group is calling itself First Freedoms Coalition.

They want to educate Utahns on the unintended consequences they say could come with the bill, specifically with how it defines gender identity.

"Do we want to send our children to public school or even to private school where they are forced to shower, girls shower with boys and boys shower with girls? That's where this has lead," said Ruzicka.

Supporters say it's about a sense of security at work and home, but admit they don't know what to expect as the debate rolls around this year.

"I don't know! I'm hopeful, I’m always hopeful it will get out of committee. I'm hopeful each year that we will actually get it to the floor," said Scuderi.

Ruzicka and State Senator, Stuart Reid have been traveling across the state to make their pitch against the bill to the people of Utah.

Lawmakers will take it up next month when the session begins.

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