Just one year after approving an LGBT nondiscrimination law (albeit a weak one.) the Mormon Church would rather let hate crimes go unprosecuted against its own flock than let gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people get protection of hate based crimes under the law because Mormon leaders say the bill would upset the “balance” church leaders called for in 2015.
A spokesman for the LDS elders said in a statement. “Interests from both ends of the political spectrum are attempting to alter that balance. We believe that the careful balance achieved through being fair to all should be maintained.”
Utah’s limited hate-crime legislation currently contains no list of protected classes, which means that SB 107 would not only protect LGBT citizens but would also do more to protect religious expression in the state.
“We’re here [in Utah] because Mormons were lynched, Mormons were persecuted, Mormons were driven out of states,” Said the bill’s author Republican state senator Rep. Stephen Urquhart, who is Mormon. “That’s worthy of protection.”
The bill easily cleared committee two weeks ago, but Urquhart said the church has “effectively snuffed out” discussion with its public comments about “balance.”
Meanwhile Gov. Gary Herbert, a practicing Mormon, was cautious in his approach to the hate-crimes bill, telling the press, “If I kill you, you’re just as dead whether I hated you or I love you and killed you. I don’t understand how that works. Certainly, I think it’s worth a discussion, but we keep creating categories.”
The Mormon Church’s opposition to SB 107, and its recent controversial policy change prohibiting any child who primarily resides with same-sex parents from being baptized until they are 18 and only then if that child “specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage. “ Is enough for Senator Urquhart to question his faith.
“When I was a child in a dark situation, the Mormon Church shined a light in my life,” Urquhart said at his press conference last Thursday. “But since then, that light has flickered.”