Friday, March 13, 2015

Anti-Discrimination Signed into Law

SB296 is the first successful legislation in Utah to protect LGBT people in housing and in the workplace. Gov. Herbert happily signed the bill Thursday evening. Although this is a huge win for LGBT people, religious people also rest assured that their religious institutions are exempt from LGBT discrimination.

Personal note --- I got a little nauseous realizing that people actually were pleased that they were given permission to continue to discriminate and express hateful religious beliefs without legal repercussion. But, not everyone can get everything. That was the feeling across the board throughout the whole process of passing this bill.

It was more historic that the LDS Church worked closely with LGBT advocates to create the compromise, as well as so quickly.

Another bill, SB297, was passed with one more vote than SB296. This one picks up where the last left off, adding a few more exemptions for religious freedom. Although LGBT advocates are not pleased with this "addendum", it still walks a "fine line" to not cancel the purpose of SB296. Under SB297, counties must have at all open hours someone to officiate a marriage for any legal couple. If a clerk wishes not to marry a same-sex couple, the clerk can refuse, but also relinquishes all ability to marry anyone (except immediate family). There is also re-affirming that no religious officiator or institution can be punished by the government for their beliefs on marriage, refusing to perform marriages based on beliefs, or taking business licences from people who express discriminatory beliefs outside the work place.

Thankfully, however, there is no law against people or society as a whole disdaining anti-LGBT beliefs. Although a person cannot be fired for holding bigoted beliefs, if their supervisor see that the employee's beliefs are affecting their work, their associations with clients and partners, and the reputation of the business, that employee can be removed. That's not the government against religious beliefs... that's society.

There was a third bill that did not pass in the senate. This one even further wished to increase the religious exceptions and "freedoms." It attempts to add more excuses for individuals to refuse services that they claim "violate" their freedom of religion.

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