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Talks on Non-discrimination, Religious Liberty Bills Continue

Brian Grimmett

Negotiations continue with Utah House and Senate leaders on legislation that protects the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns while safeguarding individual religious beliefs.

As of Wednesday, four bills dealing with LGBT rights and religious liberty have been circulated publicly and others are expected to surface in the coming weeks. House Majority Leader JIm Dunnigan says he expects a single comprehensive bill will originate in the House.

“You have a little bit of jeopardy if you advance half of the solution and the other half doesn’t make it through the process,” Dunnigan says. “So if we do it together than we all swim or we don’t.”

Republican Senator Steve Urquhart’s Senate Bill 100 provides anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people in employment and housing, which he believes strikes a balance between LGBT rights and religious liberty.

“If we go too far beyond employment and housing, we probably don’t have time to get that done in this session,” Urquhart says. “The divisions are too deep. Too passionate.”

Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis’ Senate Bill 99 bans discrimination in a place of public accommodation. Republican Representative Jake Anderegg’s House Bill 66 would allow government employees to refuse to officiate a same-sex marriage if they have religious objections. And late Wednesday afternoon, LaVar Christensen unveiled House Bill 322, which gives people and some businesses the right to refuse to provide services if it would violate their religious beliefs.

Senate Leaders say they’d also like to take a comprehensive approach to the issues. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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