Did the Mormon Church Kill a Utah Hate Crimes Law?

By Ben P L (LDS Church in Orem, Utah) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ben P L (LDS Church in Orem, Utah) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
LDS warns against upsetting ‘careful balance’ of LGBT anti-discrimination law, while a state lawmaker claims the church has effectively killed the bill.

The Utah legislature was cautioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints against the passage of any laws which will disrupt the delicate balance between rights of transgender, gay people and religious liberties as mirrored in the 2015 landmark legislation related to anti-discrimination. Dale Jones, the church spokesman, said something extraordinary was achieved by Utah Legislature in 2015. However, he warned that interests from both sides of the political spectrum are trying to alter the balance. He continued by saying that this careful balance must be maintained.

Did the Mormon Church Kill a Utah Hate Crimes Law?[/tweetthis]

The above statement poses a question as to where Mormon Church would lend support to Senate Bill 107, which tries to bolster the state's hate crimes laws.

Senator Steve Urquhart, the Republican lawmaker who sponsored such a legislation, has accused the Latter-day Saints of effectively quashing his bill. He claims that it is laughable that the bill should go away simply because there is no balance.

Equality Utah, the group engaged for LGBT rights, says that the concerned bill should be pushed back as it includes gender identity and sexual identity among protections. Troy Williams, the Executive Director of Equality Utah, told reporters “There is the perception that because Equality Utah has been the main lobbyist, this is a gay bill. That the gays are getting uppity! They weren’t satisfied with the achievements they made (last year), they want more!” Urquhart is confident that Utah will soon recognize complete LGBT rights.

SB107, for its part, passed out of the committee with favorable recommendation. A number of social conservative groups remain opposed to the bill. They argue that the bill carries special protections for a number of specific groups. If SB107 would come into force, it will add race, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, gender and disability to the protected groups list included in the hate crimes law of Utah.

Urquhart, the Republican lawmaker, argued that if one goes by present Utah law, no legal distinction is present between a swastika and smiley face being plastered on a synagogue, or burning a synagogue. He said that such protections may not be offered as the price of protection could be high, and in a state where Mormons are a majority. He took pot shots at the LDS church, which carries sufficient influence in the Capitol of breaking its compromise. Urquhart said that the church has particularly rejected the balanced approach.


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