Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Utah came together Wednesday to publicly support a bill that provides robust religious freedom protections while also extending protections for LGBT people in areas of housing and employment.
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Other community leaders, including senior representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended the conference and spoke in support of Bill 296, titled “Anti-Discrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments.”
The Church issued a brief statement as the press conference began:
The principle that we have urged legislators to address is that of fairness for everyone. In a society which has starkly diverse views on what rights should be protected, the most sensible way to move forward is for all parties to recognize the legitimate concerns of others. After a considerable amount of hard work, we believe that the Utah legislature has wisely struck that balance. LGBT people cannot be fired or denied housing just for being gay. At the same time, religious conscience and the right to protect deeply held religious beliefs is protected by robust legislation. While none of the parties achieved all they wanted, we do at least now have an opportunity to lessen the divisiveness in our communities without compromising on key principles.
Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Neill F. Marriott of the Church’s Young Women general presidency attended the news conference to show Church support for the measure.
In introducing other Church representatives at the press conference Elder Perry quoted Abraham Lincoln who said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with a firmness in right as God gives us to see the right.”
"Despite the challenges and difficulties, the complexity of negotiations, a spirit of respect and goodwill has allowed all involved to respect the differences of one another to bring about Senate Bill 296,” Elder Christofferson said.
Sister Neill F. Marriott expressed similar sentiments, “Because of the efforts of many, Senate Bill 296 is now before the Utah legislature. We are happy to be here today and give our support to this bill.”
Elder Christofferson added, “Today we want to express deep gratitude and appreciation to those who have worked so diligently to craft a solution which can serve as an effective model for other local and state governments wrestling with these same complex issues.”
Utah lawmakers will vote on the legislation before the session ends next week.
In January, Church leaders held a press conference in Salt Lake City calling for legislation across the United States that protects vital religious freedoms. At the same time, the Church said it would support legislation where it is being sought to provide protections in housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections, while ensuring that religious freedom was not compromised.