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Hate Crimes Bill Dies This Session, Will Come Back Next

Brian Grimmett
Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, presents SB107 on the Senate Floor

The Utah Senate has defeated a bill that would have defined Hate Crimes and possible punishments for them.

SB107 would have increased penalties for crimes committed against someone on the basis of the victim’s race, religion, or sexual orientation. Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton was one of 17 Senators to vote against the bill. She says she doesn’t see the need for it, and that people should be punished on equal grounds.

“And I think it’s dangerous for us to all be creating categories," Dayton says. "Then they’ll be a race for all of us to come and make sure that whatever category we want to fit into somehow is in the law.”

While that was one of a few arguments made against the bill, Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart says the main reason his bill failed was because of a statement made against it by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. The statement said the bill would upset the balance achieved last year when the legislature passed LGBT non-discrimination laws. But Urquhart says that’s a false equivalency.

“Should you or should you not punish crimes against a community," he asks. "To say that is the moral equivalent of bills on the quote/unquote other side, which those seem to be genital inspection bills for bathroom privileges for transgender individuals, my bill is legitimate. Those are creepy and illegitimate.”

Even though SB107 failed, he says he remains optimistic about its future.

“We’re going to win this war on hate crimes," he says. "There’s no doubt. If the issue is full inclusion of LGBT individuals in the fabric of our society, we know how that’s going to turn out. It’s just a question of when we get there.”

Urquhart won’t be able to sponsor the legislation next year because this is his last session. But Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher has said that he will take up the cause and run the same bill next year. 

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