Monday, February 1, 2016

Utah's Steve Urquhart Proposes Hate-Crime Bill

As a follow up to the monumental Utah bill that compromised anti-discrimination for LGBT people and free-speech protections for the religious, Sen. Steve Urquhart, a St. George Republican, thinks that a bill outlining punishments for crimes committed non-personally to a demographic, especially for religious convictions or being LGBT, should be a logical follow up. Urquhart was a key player in drafting and passing the bill last year that attempted to balance the religious resistance to LGBT acceptance in Utah, and the LGBT protection from that resistance.

Utah Governor Herbert and anti-LGBT institute director Bill Duncan don't believe this legislation is necessary, and even think there should be more language to protect the anti-gay sentiments of religious people.

Neither party is fully happy with the SB296 bill of last year. But when both sides got just a little bit more protection, it was considered a political success. LGBT supporters still believe that speech against their lifestyles is hate-speech. They wish to participate in or patronize businesses or groups of their choosing without the fear of being discriminated for being gay or having to hear words that put them down. Religious activists want to have private businesses that refuse working with customers that are asking for services that appear to "violate the business owner's conscience". They also wish to be protected in public from punishment for expressing their distaste for same-sex couples, gay marriage, or any LGBT person.

The fight for religious tradition vs. equal protection for LGBT people will be a long one, especially in conservative places like Utah.

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