News reports suggest there is still an ongoing debate about how to balance calls for changes to state discrimination laws (which would expand the reasons businesses and property owners could not deny housing or employment) with the need for robust religious liberty protections.
At the time leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a press conference calling for laws protecting religious liberty, Sutherland Institute noted its support for the balanced approach the church endorsed.
It is safe to assume that few, if any, people of faith in Utah want anyone to be denied a job or a place to live just because those people’s actions or beliefs are contrary to the beliefs of the religion. Religious groups, both churches and charities operating in accordance with religious principles, merely want to ensure that those who represent them as leaders and employees live lives consistent with those principles.
Sutherland Institute has consistently urged strong religious protections that allow churches, unaffiliated religious organizations and individuals to live in accordance with their religious beliefs in every aspect of their lives. Any legislation on this topic should protect this vital principle.
At the same time, the Legislature needs to exercise extreme care when introducing new terms, like “sexual orientation” or “gender identity,” into the law.
The latter requires particular caution since definitions in previous legislation could be read to allow a person to identify as a person of another sex for short periods of time, going back and forth between genders and asking for accommodations in facilities, etc., possibly from day to day. Legislation should be crafted to provide clarity and prevent undue burdens on employers or the privacy of employees, customers, and others.
Even the “sexual orientation” language, if not appropriately qualified, can present challenges for religious liberty. Read more