“Today we will have our first ever pro-LGBT pro-religious liberty bill that will go to the Senate floor. Today is a historic day,” said Tyler Williams Executive Director for Equality Utah.
One year ago however it was a different story. Williams and other activists engaged in an act of civil disobedience that blocked legislation. The group was arrested and charged. They subsequently became known as The Capitol 13.
“We were frustrated, we were upset,” said Williams.
Their frustration came from the legislatures refusal to hear a nondiscrimination bill know as SB 100.
But, their frustration has turned into optimism as members of both sides were able to put aside their differences and worked together. Their combined efforts resulted into SB 296, a bill that helps to address discrimination and religious liberties.
“You don’t have LGBT rights in isolation, that’s not how the world works. You don’t have religious rights in isolation, all these rights fit together,” said Sen. Stephen Urquhart (R).
The Capitol 13 gathered in The Presentation Room of the Utah Capitol to present to legislators 8,000 constituent postcards who support SB 296.
“Equality is important in the state of Utah, and as the state of Utah, we need to speak out about how things are equal and how we treat everyone the same,” said Rep. Brad Dee (R).
Lawmakers are confident about the future of SB 296, as for its counterpart SB 297 – a bill that would address government clerks to opt out of officiating same-sex unions based on their personal religious beliefs – Sen. Stuart Adams (R) says, “Its a process and we are working to ensure it represents the same principles of fairness to all and balance.”