Group wants religious groups exempt from anti-discrimination ordinances

Group wants religious groups exempt from anti-discrimination ordinances

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A conservative think tank is hoping the Legislature can help protect people of faith living in Salt Lake City after two discrimination ordinances were passed.

The ordinances protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing and employment. Sutherland Institute president Paul Mero says churches and some organizations have exemptions.

The exemptions are for religious freedom and expressive association. That means a church corporation doesn't have to hire someone who is gay if they don't want to. Expressive association means the company doesn't have to hire someone who does not fit into their culture - for example, Mero says Equality Utah doesn't have to hire him.

Mero wants the Legislature to extend or expand those exemptions to adherents of a church or a religion.

"Frankly, there are just people of faith out there, doesn't matter what religion you belong to, that own private property or own their own businesses, who want a certain culture in their apartment complex or in their employment, who aren't protected by the exemptions in the ordinances," he says.

He says expanding the exemptions would protect people from being fined if someone they didn't hire or didn't rent to claimed it was because they are gay.


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