Webb: Remember that young liberals often grow up to be old conservatives. I grew up in the ’60s, and most of the counter-culture hippies are now part of the Republican establishment. Still, attitudes about same-sex attraction are changing and people of all ages are more accepting — and that is good. Gays and lesbians have been able to come out of the shadows, into the mainstream, and among them are friends and family members who we all know and love.
Almost 60 percent of Utahns favor antidiscrimination laws protecting gay and lesbian people. Will this prompt legislative action in the 2015 session?
Pignanelli: While most Utahns abhor discrimination, they are unlikely to contact their legislator on the issue. Conservative organizations will push lawmakers against such legislation and will prevail in the absence of countering communications from constituents or others.
Webb: I have wonderful gay and lesbian friends and I don’t believe they should be subject to discrimination in areas of housing and employment. I don’t believe these views contradict my religious convictions in any way.
However, other people have deeply held religious views that might make them reluctant to rent a basement apartment, for example, to a same-sex couple, married or not. We have all read reports in national media about merchants and others whose religious views lead them to not want to provide products or services for gay weddings.
Thus, if an anti-discrimination law includes a religious freedom exemption for certain circumstances, I believe it could pass the Utah Legislature. If religious freedom is not taken into account in drafting such a law, I doubt it will be approved.
Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and a Deseret News managing editor. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. E-mail:email@example.com.
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