Legislators Getting Closer to Unveiling Non-Discrimination and Religious Liberty Legislation

By the end of this week a bill (or bills) should be introduced that best reflect the GOP majority’s idea on religious freedom rights, sources tell UtahPolicy.

As UtahPolicy readers know, already Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, has re-introduced his gay and lesbian anti-discrimination in housing and employment bill, SB100.

And several days ago Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, introduced his HB322, his attempt to define religious liberty guarantees.

However, GOP House leaders tell UtahPolicy that Christensen’s bill will not advance as it is currently written.

Any number of groups have come out against HB322, saying it goes too far and would allow, under the legal guise of individual or group religious freedoms, discrimination in any number of ways against any number of individuals or groups.

It is still unclear if there will be only one bill, including both anti-discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and employment and religious freedom carve-outs – where a person or small business would be allowed to refuse to support or provide services or products to gay and lesbian Utahns in certain areas.

GOP leaders would prefer only one bill.

That way either both issues – gay anti-discrimination and religious freedoms – would pass or neither would.

Leaders say it’s clear to them – and GOP Gov. Gary Herbert this must be the case – that both issues must pass, or neither must pass.

And it is easier to control that fate with one bill than two or three, although that the latter is possible.

But while the anti-discrimination language has basically be agreed to, the religious freedom language has not.

GOP leaders told UtahPolicy Monday that by the end of the week that religious freedom language must be agree upon by the major players on these issues – for time is running out in the 2015 Legislature, which ends at midnight March 12, now three weeks away.