A little more than a week after mothballing ordinances aimed at protecting gay people from discrimination in employment and housing, Logan's Municipal Council has turned 180 degrees, putting the measures up for a public hearing and possible approval Tuesday.
On May 5, when Councilman Herm Olsen introduced the measures, a majority of the council, including Holly Daines, came out against it, in part because they questioned if the protections were needed in Logan. They voted to reconsider the proposals in August.
"I didn't think there was a problem in Cache Valley; that opinion has changed," wrote Daines in a letter sent to colleagues this week. "Although I am still concerned with the logistics of the ordinance, or the ‘letter of the law,' I have come to believe that the ‘spirit of the law' - or the message we send by its passage - outweighs my concerns."
In an interview, Daines said: "I think it's important we send a message to all of our citizens that we don't tolerate discrimination. ... We may disagree with their choices but that's even more reason to respect them."
After shelving the proposals, Daines and others on the council said they received abundant correspondence from gay people recounting cases of perceived discrimination and from straight people arguing for the ordinances as basic rights, like the LDS Church did in supporting Salt Lake City's recent bans on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Council Chairman Jay Monson, who supported the ordinances at the time they were introduced, said, in effect, that Logan should pass the ordinances to not look bad to people elsewhere.
"I think if we didn't pass it, it would a detriment to the community," he said Friday. Monson said he put the ordinances on next Tuesday's agenda after a majority of the council expressed a desire to move forward now.
Olsen could not be reached for comment Friday.
At the end of the council discussion May 5, Monson asked the audience if they had experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation; a dozen hands of college students went up, including that of 23-year-old Seth Jensen.
"‘We're against discrimination, but we're not passing it.' That tells me you are not against discrimination," said Jensen after the meeting. Assuming there are no problems in Logan "is a lame excuse," he said.
Maure Smith, program coordinator of Utah State University's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender and Ally Services, described the response from the local GLBT community to the council's postponement as "sheer outrage" and "utter dismay."
"It was a sense of ‘you've got to be kidding me,'" she said.
Speaking of the GLBT community's robust response to council members, Smith said: "I think they were moved to action because it was so clear council members didn't understand the issues."
Smith said she's thrilled with the about face.
"I think that caring, kind individuals who take a moment to hear stories do have a change of heart," she said.
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, West Valley City and Park City have already passed laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The statewide group Equality Utah is pushing a "Ten in 2010" campaign encouraging 10 cities or counties to approve anti-discrimination laws before the Legislature convenes in 2011. Group leaders said at that time they could push for a state law; a recent Salt Lake Tribune poll found 66 percent of Utahns support statewide protections.
The public hearing on Logan's proposed ordinances is set for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 290 N. 100 West.