The House Business and Labor Committee on Friday delayed its vote on a bill to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to give time for more research.

Rep. Stephen Clark, R-Provo, who arrived late and asked to move the vote to a later date so he could be brought up to speed on and evaluate statistics on an issue that "is critical to every member of this community."

The bill, HB89, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act. The act currently prevents workplace discrimination against workers because of characteristics such as relgion, race, ethnicity, and pregnancy.

Sponsor Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake, agreed with the delay, saying "I would ask, respectfully, that the chair and committee do provide us the opportunity to have a dialogue on any questions you might have."

Rep. James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, the committee's vice chair, said Clark requested some statistics and until that's provided, it's unlikely the bill will be reconsidered.

The debate echoed the hate crimes debates from previous sessions, in which opposition centered around the injustice of creating a protected category. However, those who supported the bill countered that current law provides no protection at all for workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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