UPDATE: The ordinance passed Tuesday night by a vote of 4-0, with one council member abstaining.
Sometime in a past life that now seems like only a dream, I spent two years working for the daily newspaper in Logan, Utah.
Logan, home to Utah State University, is in a mountain valley with stunning scenery and long, cold winters about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.
The city’s population is roughly 50,000, and the vast majority of residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Which is why it’s so hard to believe that the Logan City Council will consider an ordinance tonight that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing.
Ironically, according to my former employer The Herald Journal, most opposition to the ordinance comes from outsiders, who’ve traveled to Logan from Salt Lake City, which is considered far more progressive and has long had a similar ordinance:
“They’re (the Logan Municipal Council) going to give them (homosexuals) freedoms and take away freedoms from others. We should have the right to not associate with someone who is homosexual,” said 55-year-old Sandra Rodrigues, of Sandy, speaking by phone from Angie’s Restaurant early Monday. “I don’t want to be served by someone with AIDS in the kitchen – I mean, I have those worries. I’m sorry.”
Rodrigues leads a group calling itself America Forever, which dispatched a dozen agitators, all from the Salt Lake area, to Logan on Saturday – that day they protested near the homes of Councilwoman Holly Daines and Councilman Herm Olsen. On Sunday, members of the group showed up outside the church that Council Chairman Jay Monson attends.
Signs they hoisted read: “Shame on Holly Daines for becoming a gay activist,” and “Sexual Orientation is not a class” and “Jay Monson hates children.”
Thankfully, it looks like opposition to the ordinance from outsiders is backfiring.
“We want to hear the other side, but we want to hear the other side from people who live here,” said Monson.
On Monday afternoon, Rodrigues and her team held a “town hall” meeting in a conference room at The Crystal Inn in south Logan. No visitors were on hand while she had it out with someone on the phone at about 4 p.m. No one showed up all afternoon, but the group did receive upward of 50 phone calls and e-mails from locals arguing against their message and tactics. Rodrigues ditched the town hall and ended up demonstrating at City Hall late in the afternoon, drawing stares, jeers and reprimands from passers-by.
I never thought I’d be so proud of Logan.