UPDATE:: Utah lawmakers reject hate crimes proposal
Utah’s GOP-controlled Senate has rejected a proposal to beef up the state’s hate crimes law and add protections for gay and transgender people.
The proposal from Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart would give heavier punishments for crimes motivated by factors such as a victim’s race, gender, religion.
The measure failed by six votes in the 29-member Senate on Wednesday. Lawmakers say they’re concerned it could create special protections for some people and punish people for their thoughts.
UPDATE: Lawmaker: Mormon church ‘snuffed out’ Utah hate crimes bill
A Mormon Utah senator working to pass a hate crimes bill protecting gay and transgender people criticized his church Thursday for thwarting the measure by urging legislators not to upset a balance between religious and LGBT rights.
Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “effectively snuffed out” discussion on his proposal with its statement.
Church spokesman Dale Jones said in the statement Wednesday that lawmakers struck a balance last year with an anti-discrimination law that protected religious rights and LGBT rights. Jones said that balance should be maintained despite efforts on both ends of the political spectrum to upset it.
“Under current Utah law, there’s no legal distinction between painting a smiley face on a synagogue or painting a swastika on a synagogue. They’re both treated like mere graffiti,” Urquhart said.
UPDATE:: Utah Senate panel OKs bill adding LGBT protections to hate crime law_
A proposal to add protections for gay and transgender people to the Utah‘s hate crime law cleared its first test Thursday when it was approved on a 5-1 vote by a Senate committee.
In addition to protections for LGBT people, supporters said the measure but also beefs up the state’s existing hate crimes law, which they argued is difficult to enforce and makes it tough to seriously punish crimes intended to target someone based on race or religion.
Several conservative and religious groups opposed to the measure say they worry it makes thoughts and beliefs a crime and carves out special protections for some classes of people.
Urquhart is working on an accompanying proposal to make it clear that a person’s membership in a specific group or hate speech along[sic] cannot be evidence that something was a hate crime. The comments or actions must be specifically related to the crime — such as stating an intent to attack a specific person because of their race, not past statements against members of a race.
A new proposal could make it a hate crime in Utah to harm someone because they are gay or transgender.
A bill unveiled by a Republican lawmaker Thursday would dole out stiffer penalties for crimes against people or their property that are motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, disability, gender or other protected traits.
Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams has said Utah’s current hate crimes law has no protections for gay or transgender residents and little protections for other groups.
Utah is one of 15 states with hate crime laws that lack protections for sexual orientation and identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
St. George Republican Sen. Steve Urquhart sponsored the measure. He also sponsored Utah’s landmark LGBT anti-discrimination bill last year that passed after being endorsed by the Salt Lake City-based Mormon church.
Utah proposal would protect LGBTQ people from hate crimes – LGBTQ Nation