Compromise Anti-discrimination Bill Brings LGBT Community, LDS Church Together
In a rare display of consensus, representatives from Utah’s LGBT community and officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came together to support a statewide non-discrimination bill lawmakers unveiled today at the state Capitol.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the last of three LDS church leaders to speak in favor of the legislation.
“The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is very pleased today to support Senate Bill 296, Anti-discrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments,” Christofferson said.
Senate Bill 296, sponsored by Republican Senators Steve Urquhart and Stuart Adams adds sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing state law that already prohibits housing and employment discrimination on the basis of race, color and sex. It applies to business owners with 15 or more employees and property owners with four or more properties. It also makes clear people of faith will be protected in employment and housing. Religious organizations and the Boy Scouts of America are exempt from the law.
Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis, an openly gay member of the legislature, says religious liberty and non-discrimination are Utah values.
“This is our message for the world,” Dabakis said. “That we can take tough issues. One of the great social issues of our time. We can be reasonable. We can communicate. We can be respectful. We can be civil. We can find common ground.”
Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah said as a once-young gay Utahn, he was unable to imagine a positive future.
“I wish that that 20-year-old me could have gazed into the future to see this day,” he said.
Republican Representative LaVar Christensen says he supports the compromise, but he’s not abandoning his own legislation that would allow anyone to opt out of providing services or complying with policies that go against that person’s religious beliefs.