Sculpture of a heralder atop the Mormon Draper Utah Temple on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. (Michael Wiffren / CC BY 2.0))

Utah’s Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill that would bar employers and landlords or property owners from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity while also protecting religious institutions that object to homosexuality.

The New York Times reports:

The legislation, known as “the Utah compromise,” has been hailed by Mormon leaders and gay rights advocates as a breakthrough in balancing rights and religious freedom, and as a model for other conservative states. But leaders of some other churches oppose it, saying it would not sufficiently protect the rights of individuals who have religious objections to homosexuality.

The vote was an extraordinary moment for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is opposed to same-sex marriage, but sent two of its leading apostles to a news conference on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City last week to endorse the antidiscrimination bill. Legislators and gay rights advocates said having the blessing of the church leaders turned the tide in the Legislature, where most members are Mormons.

… The bill, however, does not address what has become one of the most divisive questions on gay rights nationwide: whether individual business owners, based on their religious beliefs, can refuse service to gay people or gay couples — for example, a baker who refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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