I posted my letter to Holladay City councilman Topham here. He wrote a response about a week later. Here is his response.

September 10, 2010

Seven people emailed me (you were one) objecting to comments attributed to me in an article by Kathleen McKitrick in the Tribune on September 3. Newspaper sales are hurting, and the out of context “sound bites” that Ms. McKitrick used are unfortunate, but they “sell copy.”

I believe even the most ardent gay rights advocate would be somewhat chagrined at the total bias against the “straight” community outlined in the draft of this bill. You can get a copy of the draft ordinance at City Hall. Some of the more objectionable conditions are written in my Letter to the Editor of September 6 which I am including in this email. I was told that it couldn’t be published because it was too long. I asked that it be presented in the Sunday “My View” box, but have heard nothing back (and doubt I will).

As a small businessman and private property owner in Holladay, I believe the draft ordinance is draconian. As a historian, I am familiar with “the tyranny of the majority.” I ask you to think about “the tyranny of the minority,” particularly in Holladay, where the city attorney and city manager say they have never had a complaint related to housing or employment by members of the gay community.

Barry Topham

September 7, 2010

To the Editor:

Kathleen McKitrick’s 9/3/10 lead article in Section B concerning my opposition to a proposed ordinance banning discrimination against gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in housing and employment in Holladay failed to inform the public the reasons for my opposition. These reasons were brought out in the council discussion, but rather than mention them, she instead extensively quoted Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah. Ms. Balken was at the council meeting but did not speak. Apparently Ms. McKitrick privately interviewed Ms. Balken.

As in previous council discussions of this issue, I again asked City Attorney Craig Hall and City Manager Randy Fitts if they knew of any cases of housing or employment bias against gays, transgenders or bisexuals in Holladay. As previously, they both said there had been no reports of any problems.

It seemed to me from the ordinance discussion that neither Mayor Webb nor the other council members had thoroughly analyzed some of the ordinance ordinance provisions, including:

1. $500 fine for an employer with even just one employee if found in violation of the ordinance, and a $1000 fine for employers with more than fifteen employees. Business is tough, and employers should not have it made tougher by being forced to hire people whose life choices and life styles are in obvious conflict with those of the employer, fellow workers, or customers. I do not believe employers should be forced to hire someone simply because they fear time-consuming and expensive legal procedures if they do not.

2. If a realtor is used when selling or renting residential space, the ordinance does not allow any owner discretion, even if renting out a “mother-in-law” apartment in the owner’s home or selling his/her own home.

3. Churches, “expressive” associations (such as the Boy Scouts), and all levels of federal and state government are exempt. This ordinance is aimed at private property owners and businesses in Holladay.

4. The “person” who can file a complaint is defined as “one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trusts or trustees, receivers, and the City…” – pretty much a Goliath vs. David, and a potential time-consuming, expensive problem for business and property owners and complaint filers. The only group likely to come out ahead are attorneys.

In the past two years I have introduced ordinances on term limits, campaign finance reform, attendance requirements at city council meetings (with financial penalties for non-attendance),
and banning political yard signs. I am always defeated five to one – I believe because I have been the sole and vocal council opponent to the leveling of Cottonwood Mall and the proposed central Holladay rebuild with over forty apartments per acre with clearly insufficient parking. These unfortunate developments have almost bankrupted once thriving Holladay and caused a significant tax increase for residents (ten-year 6% municipal energy tax)..

Gays, bisexuals, and transgenders should take heart: because I oppose this ordinance for business and property rights reasons, the other council members will likely vote for it. You should thank me for my opposition. I have nothing against you personally and have many gay acquaintances.

Barry Topham
City of Holladay Council Representative, District 4

What are your thoughts? Obviously, he’s pulling the ‘I have gay friends so I must adore every one of you’ card, which is just tacky, and the ‘oh, poor me, nobody likes my opinions and proposed ordinances’ card as well (nobody likes a whiner), but beyond that: opinions?

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