How Utah’s Compromise on Religious Liberties Could Serve as a Model for Other States

NPR interviews state Sen. Stuart Adams about religious freedom legislation he co-sponsored that protects the rights of Utahns on both sides of the gay marriage divide.

From the transcript of the interview:



Let’s hear from a state whose leaders wish they could quietly handle the contentious issue of LGBT rights. The state is Utah.




It’s majority Mormon, majority Republican and deeply conservative. When the federal government said schools must let transgender kids use the bathrooms they choose, Utah was one of 11 states that sued. Yet a Utah state senator says he’d rather the state itself find some compromise.


INSKEEP: Stuart Adams has a story to tell about an approach to LGBT issues. He co-sponsored legislation that some conservatives elsewhere are now promoting for themselves. The story starts as courts began legalizing same-sex marriage, which Utah had banned.


STUART ADAMS: In November of 2013, a federal court judge actually overturned that Constitutional amendment. And that sent shockwaves through the entire state. There were people that actually wanted to secede from the nation, if you can believe that.


INSKEEP: Instead, Utah lawmakers passed legislation that was backed by the Mormon church and by pro-gay rights organizations. It protects LGBT people in the workplace and elsewhere, although not in religious institutions.


ADAMS: Well, the question we were facing as to whether to strengthen our religious liberties and strike back and whether or not to have any type of accommodation for the LGBT community. The LDS church stepped forward, to their credit, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And they said rather than try to run those issues separately, they said, we think there ought to be a bill that combines the two issues.