Earnest Cooper stood at the door of the chamber weeping as the Logan Municipal Council approved ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation Tuesday night.
"I've never felt like I've loved Logan more," said Cooper, a gay 27-year-old Utah State University student. He said he works only university jobs because he's scared to venture into a less-tolerant off-campus environment. "For the first time I feel like I am treated as a human being. I feel like a man who belongs."
The council, on a 4-0 vote with one abstention, passed the ordinances, similar to ones previously passed in Salt Lake City and West Valley City, among others, that make it punishable, as a civil matter, to hire or fire someone or to deny housing to someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Violators face fines of up to $500 or $1,000, depending on the size of the business or apartment complex involved.
About 200 people packed the council chambers and an overflow room for the public hearing prior to the vote - most speakers favored passage, including Isaac Furnas, a transgender bisexual who said he worries about getting evicted because of his preferences.
"I love Logan but I've always been afraid to come out and state these two basic truths about myself. It is my right to be who I am."
Logan resident and known-Constitutionalist Michelle King spoke against the ordinances, arguing they interfere with private property rights.
"Creating a law telling people how to use their property doesn't inspire compassion," she said.
Joshua Frazier told the council: "I don't want the government to determine what is moral and what is not."
Brannen King said society today is "obsessed with entitlement."
"We need more compassion, not more (government) control," he said.
Council Chairman Jay Monson largely restricted the hearing to Logan residents but toward the end did allow testimony from people in the Sandy-based group America Forever who protested the ordinances at City Hall and in council members' neighborhoods in the three days leading up to the meeting.
Sandra Rodrigues, the group's 55-year-old leader, told the council that by passing the measures they were endorsing and validating homosexual conduct. She said gays are working to create a society where they can flaunt their lifestyles and influence children.
"It's part of a movement," she said. "This law is a backdoor for all they want to do."
In the hall after the vote, Rodrigues repeatedly called out to others filing out, "We know what you're up to. Boo."
Councilman Dean Quayle refused to cast a vote. He said in the last week he had heard "horrific" stories of the treatment of homosexuals in Logan, but that few of the cases involved employment or housing.
"It's my thought and feeling that these ordinances aren't going to do anything," he said.
Freshman Councilwoman Holly Daines, whose change of opinion revived the ordinances after they were tabled earlier this month, said in an interview before the meeting: "I've tried to listen and I've learned a lot."
She earlier questioned the need for the ordinances in Logan but changed course after hearing stories of discrimination and ordinance endorsements.
Between the two of them, Councilman Herm Olsen and Council Chairman Jay Monson said they received 393 e-mails in favor of the ordinances and 18 against.
Countering claims that the ordinances won't have any tangible effect or change the way people feel about homosexuals, Olsen, who first brought the issue before the council May 5, said it's a step.
"We need to understand it is a beginning," he said. "It is time we took the steps we need to and put the pain and hurt behind us."
Maure Smith, program coordinator of Utah State University's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender and Ally Services, said the passage sends a message.
"It says that we don't mess around in Logan. This is a safe place; and if something is making it not as safe, we do something about it."
As for if the measures, taken together, will actually make any difference, she said, "It already has."