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Utah Senate Committee Favors Anti-Discrimination Bill
U.S. Department of State

A Utah proposal protecting gay and transgender individuals received unanimous approval from a Republican-controlled Senate committee Thursday morning.

The bill, which has earned a rare stamp of approval from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bars discrimination against LGBT individuals while protecting the rights of religious groups and their followers.

Equality Utah’s Executive Director Troy Williams said this bill is unprecedented in Utah.

“I think it’s phenomenal that people from different backgrounds have come together to craft legislation that actually deals with both of these issues,” Williams said.

He said it has taken years to get this legislation to a point where it is being seriously considered.

“We have been here for seven years, and every year there’s been some kind of roadblock that’s prevented us from actually moving forward,” Williams said. “To have our legislation pass unanimously in a Senate hearing today was phenomenal.”

Lawmakers became emotional during the two-hour hearing as LGBT residents, a well as religious and conservative groups spoke for and against the measure.

Several conservative senators supporting the bill said it provides equally strong protections for LGBT and religious individuals.