If the effort to pass hate crimes legislation falls short in the 2016 session, one Utah Senator says he will bring the issue back next year.
Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, says he is a big supporter of Sen. Steve Urquhart’s SB107, which strengthens Utah’s hate-crimes law. The future of that bill is somewhat in doubt since the LDS Church issued a statement warning lawmakers about passing legislation that would upset the balance crafted in last year’s non-discrimination and religious liberty legislation.
Thatcher says the proposal is so significant and well crafted that he will bring it back next year since Urquhart is retiring from the legislature.
“If it does not pass this year, with Sen. Urquhart gone, I will open this bill file myself the first day we can do so,” says Thatcher. “Urquhart deserves to go out on top. If that does not happen this year, I will absolutely take up this banner and carry it next year.”
Thatcher admits he has been critical of other hate crimes proposals, but Urquhart’s bill allays those misgivings.
“This has nothing to do with the victim,” says Thatcher. “It’s not one victim more valuable than another. It is 100% about the offender.”
Thatcher says if he brings back Urquhart’s bill, he will sit down with every stakeholder, including the LDS Church, to explain why this does not violate religious liberty or trample on First Amendment rights.
“A hate crime is an act of terrorism. It is done specifically to sow fear and terror in a specific group of people. This is about the order and the safety of society.”
SB107 is currently awaiting debate in the full Senate.