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Religious Leaders, Equality Utah Ask Lawmakers to Reject Religious Liberty Bill

Whittney Evans
Reverend Curtis Price of First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.

A number of local faith leaders joined Equality Utah in prayer and song Wednesday at the state capitol and to speak against a statewide proposal they say would codify discrimination against LGBT people.

Sounding more like an animated sermon than a press conference, faith leaders shouted “Glory to God” and “Amen” as speakers took to the podium. Reverend Curtis Price from the First Baptist Church in Salt Lake City lamented the conversation in Utah has turned from talking about anti-discrimination protection for people based on sexual orientation to anti-discrimination protection for people of faith.

“I’m not sure how or why this happened, but it has begun to distract from the real issue,” Price said. “Religious freedom is alive and well in the United States and the protections of those freedoms are codified in the bill of rights.”

Price joined nearly 20 other religious leaders and Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams in asking the Utah Legislature to support Republican Senator Steve Urquhart’s non-discrimination bill, SB 100, which offers protections for LGBT people from discrimination in employment and housing. Williams added the body should reject Republican Representative LaVar Christensen’s bill HB 322 which would recognize religion as a valid defense against claims of discrimination.

“His bill would allow employers and landlords to impose their faith on their workers and their tenants,” Williams said. “It would allow people to pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”

House and Senate Leaders say they’re likely to come up with a single bill that balances religious and LGBT protections. Representative Christensen said in a statement he sincerely wants to make sure that in the vital areas of housing and employment, all persons are fully respected and protected. 

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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