Utah faith leaders show support for nondiscrimination bill

A coalition of diverse faith leaders gathered in February at the Utah State Capitol to share their support for the passage of Senate Bill 100 — a nondiscrimination bill that includes protections for LGBT people.

“The recent statement from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding anti-discrimination laws that include the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community coupled alongside religious liberty have generated relevant discussions,” Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said in a statement. “Faith leaders throughout the valley will join their voices to the conversation.”

“We have an amazing history of tolerance for differing beliefs and ideas standing together as one nation,” said Rev. Curtis Price from the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City. “I would love to open up a dialogue with the LDS Church about how we, as people of faith, can secure the rights of every citizen and still be faithful to our convictions.”

Rabbi Illana Schwartzman from Congregation Kol Ami also shared her support for SB100.

“It is in the best interest of religious and secular society if individuals are allowed to live and work without the fear of discrimination. We all benefit when we stand together to proclaim more not less love,” Schwartzman said.

Doree Burt from Mormons Building Bridges addressed the intersection of gay and transgender Mormons.

“Many have a foot in both camps. In the case of religious exemptions, the person who is denied a service or an insurance benefit may share the very faith that the merchant or employer is using as an excuse to exclude her,” Burt said.

Sen. Steven Urquhart is sponsoring SB100 for a second consecutive year. The bill provides exemptions for religious institutions and their businesses. This marks the seventh year Equality Utah has worked to pass this kind of statewide legislation protecting all Utahns’ rights to work and live in Utah.

Religious leaders who are in support of the legislation are from Presbyterian, American Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist, Old Catholic, and Zen Buddhist faiths.

Their letter is below:

Utah Faith Leaders' letter support SB100

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  1. Religious beliefs are very personal. We've all seen examples of how people belonging to the same religion have opposing views on issues like marriage equality. I'd be interested to know specifically what kinds of exemptions these religions are after. Of equal interest is how are we to determine if future discrimination is based on religious beliefs or personal bigotry that is not in line with that person's affiliated organized religion? More to the point, why should institutional discrimination be allowed at all?

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