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A landmark proposal aimed to offer support to gay and transgender individuals passed its first test in front of a Republican-swaying Senate committee in Utah. The committee offered unanimous support for the measure,
Earning a particularly rare approval stamp from the Utah-based Mormon Church, the bill aims to disallow any type of discrimination against the LGBT community while simultaneously protecting religious groups’ rights. This proposal bars gender identity- or sexual orientation-based discrimination when it comes to employment or housing (this requirement excludes religious groups and organizations, however).
Despite his conservative, Mormon upbringing, Republican Senator Todd Weiler underlined the importance of equal rights despite sexual orientation differences. Weiler mentioned having met many transgender individuals, and that they deserve the same rights as any other American, reinforcing his conviction that these individuals require protection.
“People from diverse backgrounds have come together to craft what no one thought was possible.”
Troy Williams, outspoken gay rights advocate said, rejoicing in the idea that the measure might actually stand a pretty good chance of being passed in Utah.
It’s been a delicate balancing act attempting to respect and ensure the rights of one community while also not infringing the rights of others, Utah Republican Senator Stuart Adams said during a conference. However, it seems that lawmakers have reached a perfect equilibrium, he added, also noting that if such proposals are well-met in conservative states such as Utah, similar ones can also be designed for the rest of the nation.
After Thursday’s approval, the bill will be advancing to the full Senate, where a hearing and vote have already been scheduled for Friday. And there are already many prepared to sign the bill, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert being one of them.
The church is also offering the legislation its full support, underlining that it harmoniously follows the faith’s principles on religious rights and LGBT protection balance. And while Quorum of the Twelve Apostles member, D. Todd Christofferson acknowledges that neither side would receive the entirety of their desires, such a solution allows that both sides get most of what they had desired instead of having a “winner-take-all” scenario.
Yet, as with any legislative initiative, criticism was bound to appear. While Boy Scouts of America did not comment the legislation, Scouts for Equality heavily criticized the fact that Boy Scouts of America were still allowed to ban gay adult Scout leaders:
“Non-discrimination means ‘non-discrimination,’ not ‘non-discrimination except for the Boy Scouts.'”
Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality said.
Another criticized point was the proposal’s lack of attention to the right of protected individuals to act accordingly to their beliefs. The proposal suggests that employees adhere to “reasonable dress and grooming standards” and visit sex-specific facilities and restrooms.