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SCOTUS Sides With Colorado Baker In LGBT Discrimination Case, Dividing Utahns


The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple is drawing split reactions from Utah officials.

“It’s a very narrow ruling, but at the same time it opens up the door for interpretation by others that it’s okay to discriminate," Salt Lake City Councilman Derek Kitchen, who's openly gay, said.

Kitchen and his husband successfully challenged Utah's ban on same-sex marriage in 2013. He and Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who's also gay, said they’re disappointed in the decision.

"Today, LGBTQ people in this country must continue to wonder whether they may be refused servce for who they are — and that's unacceptable," said Biskupski in a statement. 

But among Utah’s conservative elected officials, including Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, the ruling was hailed as a victory for religious freedom.

Bill Duncan, director for The Center for Family and Society with the conservative Sutherland Institute, said the ruling leaves room for compromise.  

“There’s some important principles that I think will guide other courts and even legislators going forward," he said. "The principle of non-discrimination balanced by the principle of respect for religious and free speech views — I think that’s positive overall.”

A Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll from November showed 67 percent of Utah voters favor a religious exception for bakers who object to gay marriage.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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