A new bill proposed in Utah today has been touted as a model for the rest of the country in compromising between religious and LGBT rights.
If passed, Senate Bill 296 would make it illegal to fire or deny housing to someone based on gender identity (or their position for or against homosexuality), with the exception of religious organizations and the Boy Scouts of America. The bill does not exempt individuals or for-profit businesses.
Elder Christofferson and Elder Perry were on the scene at a press conference Wednesday, where advocates of the legislation presented it to the media.
"After a considerable amount of hard work, we believe that the Utah legislature has wisely struck that balance," the Church said in a statement. "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.”
Sister Neill F. Marriott, who was also in attendance, added, "We are happy to be here today and give our support to this bill."
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, leader of the nation’s largest gay rights organization, has also praised the initiative. “This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history,” he said. “The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.”
Yesterday, Utah State Governor Gary Herbert said he would be looking “anxiously” at the bill. “It’s been worked on very diligently by people on all sides of the issues. I understand it’s been hard lifting and hard work. And people worked very well together trying to find that common ground.” He added, “I’m cautiously optimistic that it will get us to that common ground we need to find.”