The Utah compromise contains way too much legalese for me to comprehensively evaluate it today. But reading the bill, and the response to it from the gay-rights establishment, leads me to say, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, something I never expected to say: Thanks, Human Rights Campaign.
As readers of this column know, I have become increasingly concerned by the threats to the livelihoods of people known to hold to classical Christian views on sex and marriage.
In a recent column, I pointed to almost a dozen such recent incidents, ranging from Kelvin Cochran to Angela McCaskill, and I also noted: “This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it points to where I think the greatest threats lie: closing down educational and work opportunities to traditionalists who dare to speak.”
This week you could add to that list baseball player Daniel Murphy, who announced he isn’t going to mention his religious beliefs opposing sex outside of Christian marriage any more, after a publicity storm in response to being asked about baseball’s new ambassador for “inclusion,” Billy Bean. (Hat tip: Rod Dreher.)
Celebrities are one thing, but I also didn’t mention in that column Eric Moutsos, the Salt Lake City cop who was disciplined merely for requesting a religious accommodation to a job assignment to ride at the front of a gay-pride parade. Anyway, the list of livelihoods endangered mounts. At an emotional hearing (on both sides) Moutsos just testified this week in favor of the Utah compromise, SB296.
With good reason: because this historic piece of legislation would likely help people like him, and it would especially help people whose jobs are being attacked because they respectfully seek to exercise — off the job — core constitutional rights: to speak, to sign petitions, to write religious books.
Here are the relevant clauses in this bill that looks as if like it will become the law of the land in Utah:
(1) An employee may express the employee’s religious or moral beliefs and commitments in the workplace in a reasonable, non-disruptive, and non-harassing way on equal terms with similar types of expression of beliefs or commitments allowed by the employer in the workplace, unless the expression is in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.
(2) An employer may not discharge, demote, terminate, or refuse to hire any person, or retaliate against, harass, or discriminate in matters of compensation or in terms, privileges, and conditions of employment against any person otherwise qualified, for lawful expression or expressive activity outside of the workplace regarding the person’s religious, political, or personal convictions, including convictions about marriage, family, or sexuality, unless the expression or expressive activity is in direct conflict with the essential business-related interests of the employer.
The LDS Church was negotiating from a position of strength: Nothing was going to pass the Utah legislature that members felt would hurt Mormon institutions. But it responded generously, not only protecting employment and housing rights for LGBT individuals, but protecting institutions more typical of other religious communities, not just their own.