Washington - Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, strongly condemned an extreme anti-equality bill introduced in the Utah House of Representatives and questioned whether the Mormon church is behind the bill. Geared toward undermining equality in a shroud of religious language, HB 322 - the so-called “Religious Liberty Recognition and Protection Act” - was introduced by Rep. LaVar Christensen and is so broad and sweeping that it threatens not just the LGBT community, but women, members of minority faiths and other minority classes.
“This bill is reckless, it's dangerous, and if passed it puts the state’s non-discrimination laws at risk of being undermined,” said Marty Rouse, HRC National Field Director. “After claiming that it is increasingly open to treating LGBT people equally, the LDS Church should disavow any connection to this racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBT bill. Fair-minded Utahns should be outraged that something so extreme and blatantly harmful to countless people could be introduced in this great state.”
Last week, the Human Rights Campaign issued a report and resource guide for journalists compiling more than two dozen new, sweeping and seemingly-coordinated pieces of legislation in more than a dozen states across the country—all geared toward undermining LGBT equality in a shroud of religious language.
The bills—many modeled on a failed attempt in Arizona last year that drew condemnation from businesses, faith communities, and elected officials in both parties—put all state non-discrimination laws at risk of being undermined or mooted. They threaten not just the LGBT community, but women, members of minority faiths and other minority classes.
As the report notes, the harm these bills may cause doesn’t end with the LGBT community. Under many proposed bills, an evangelical police officer could feel empowered to refuse to patrol a Jewish street festival; a city clerk could shirk the law and refuse a marriage license to an interracial couple, a divorcee seeking to remarry, or a lesbian couple; an EMT could claim the law is on his side after refusing service to a dying transgender person in the street; and the enforcement of other key sections of civil rights law could be dramatically undermined.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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