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Governor Herbert Signs Historic LGBT Anti-bias Bill

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Judy Fahys

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed into law a statewide ban on discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in employment and housing.  The law also includes protections for religious beliefs.

Senate Bill 296 expands an existing anti-bias law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Republican Senator Steve Urquhart sponsored the bill. He joined Governor Herbert Thursday evening for the ceremonial bill signing at the state capitol. Urquhart told the crowd LGBT rights and religious liberties are not incompatible. 

“They are pillars in the pantheon of freedom,” Urquhart said. “I have nothing more to say because it’s time to sign this bill.”

Earlier this year, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced they would support such a measure as long as it included protections for religious beliefs.

SB 296 makes clear religious organizations and their affiliates cannot be forced to perform gay marriages, and no one can be evicted or fired for expressing their religious beliefs. Governor Herbert said that strikes a fair balance.

“And I do believe that what we’ve done here will become a model for the rest of the country of how they too can resolve these issues in their own respective states as we find the right balance necessary to discourage discrimination while protecting religious liberty,” Herbert said.

Protections under new law will take effect in July. 

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