Lawmakers May Combine Religious Liberty and Non-Discrimination Legislation

Utah lawmakers are having serious discussions about merging a statewide non-discrimination bill with proposed religious liberty legislation.

Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams (R-Layton) acknowledges there is a movement aimed at combining the two ideas into one piece of legislation.

"Aren't the two issues related?" said Adams. "They have to be. It's like education funding. You can't talk about giving teachers raises without discussing the WPU (weighted pupil unit). This is the same sort of thing."

Linking the two concepts into one piece of legislation would provide some advantages for lawmakers. One bill means only one debate in each house instead of two. Plus it would afford for more chances for lawmakers to reach an accord. 

For Adams, it's about making what could be a contentious issue into a collaborative one.

"I would hope this would be an effort for us to find some common ground," said Adams. "It's an opportunity for two very different parties to see through the same eyeglass."

Adams acknowledges the LDS Church's announced support for both religious liberty and statewide non-discrimination protection for the LGBT community gives lawmakers a rare opportunity to take some of the emotion out of what is an inherently emotional subject.

"This is such a significant issue, it has to be vetted fully," he says. "I would like a process that shows respect and dignity for everyone involved."

Adams says he's not sure about the timing of the combined legislation, but he thinks most legislators would like to see the process wrapped up sooner rather than later.