New bill allows county clerks to opt out of same-sex unions; 36 new bills signed

Gov. Gary Herbert signs a bill into law, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Office of Gov. Gary Herbert, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert signed 36 bills into law Friday. Among them was Senate Bill 297, which allows some government officials to opt out of performing same-sex marriages.

Titled “Protections for Religious Expression and Beliefs about Marriage, Family, or Sexuality,” the bill allows county clerks to opt out of performing same-sex marriages on religious grounds but also mandates someone be available through the county clerk’s office to perform those marriages.

SB 297 also prohibits government retaliation against individuals, such as clergy members, who do not wish to perform same-sex marriages or provide accommodations for such.

The bill “strikes a proper balance,” Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said prior to the bill’s passing in the Utah House March 18.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, and Rep. LeVar Christensen, R-Draper.

The bill passed immediately in the House following passage of Senate Bill 296, which extends employment and housing protections to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It is also protects freedoms of religious expression in the workplace for employees who may have religious views in opposition to the LGBT lifestyle.

Herbert signed SB 296 into law in a signing ceremony at the state capitol March 12.

The bill was sponsored by Sens. Adams and Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, as well as Rep. Drad Dee, R-Ogden.

Both bills were endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition to SB 297, the governor signed a total of 46 bills during the 2015 legislative session. Those bills are listed below:

  • HB 20 Jury Duty Amendments Sign, Rep. Hall
  • HB 136 Campaign Disclosures for Judicial Retention Elections, Rep. King
  • SB 113 Sex Offender Testing Amendments, Sen. Millner
  • HCR 01 Concurrent Resolution Designating Start by Believing Day, Rep. Romero
  • HB 17S01 Motor Vehicle Emissions, Rep. Perry
  • SB 159 Background Checks for State Accountants, Sen. Henderson
  • HB 98S01 Association Amendments, Rep. Froerer
  • HB 105S01 Antidiscrimination Modifications, Rep. Miller
  • HB 57 Benefit Corporations Amendments, Rep. Stratton
  • HB 218 Nurse Practice Act Amendments, Rep. DiCaro
  • SB 297S02 Protections for Religious Expression and Beliefs about Marriage, Family, or Sexuality, Sen. Adams
  • SB 56 Wildland Fire Policy, Sen. Vickers
  • SB 86 Registration Fees for Emergency Medical Aircraft, Sen. Bramble
  • SCR 008 Concurrent Resolution Regarding Transportation for Persons with Disabilities, Sen. Mayne
  • SB 112 Public Reporting Requirements, Sen. Harper
  • SB 144 Modifications to Income Tax, Sen. Henderson
  • SB 154 Coal Ash Regulation Amendments, Sen. Okerlund
  • SB 19 Digital Health Services Commission, Sen. Shiozawa
  • SB 32S01 Amendments to Limitations and Reporting, for Food and Awards, Sen. Mayne
  • SB 80S01 Homeowners’ Association Reserve Fund, Sen. Urquhart
  • SB 89S01 Aquatic Invasive Species Fee, Sen. Jenkins
  • SB 140 Health Care Providers Immunity from Liability Act Reauthorization, Sen. Vickers
  • SB 188 Oil, Gas, and Mining Amendments, Sen. Van Tassell
  • SB 191 Uniform Interstate Family Support Act Amendments, Sen. Hillyard
  • HCR 04 Concurrent Resolution Recognizing the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Rep. Hollins
  • HB 035 Parent-time Schedule Amendments, Rep. Snow
  • HB 051 Voter Eligibility Amendments, Rep. Webb
  • HB 121 Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, Rep. Ward
  • HB 125 Fishing License Amendments , Rep. Cutler
  • HB 149S01 Utah Research Institute for Mine Safety and Productivity, Rep. Wheatley
  • HB 018S02 Children’s Hearing Aid Program Amendments, Rep. Edwards
  • HB 194 Occupational Therapy License Amendments, Rep. Moss
  • HCR 02 Concurrent Resolution Designating Religious Freedom Day, Rep. King
  • HCR 07 Concurrent Resolution Urging Development of Methods to Minimize Excessive Testing and its Negative Impacts on the School Children of Utah, Rep. Poulson
  • HB 091S04 Campaign Contributions Amendments, Rep. Powell
  • HB 03 Current Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations, Rep. Sanpei

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  • anybody home March 20, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    How blatantly hypocritical can one state be?

    • fun bag March 20, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      nothing out of the ordinary. hypocrisy is what makes utardia function. been to church lately?

      • mesaman March 21, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        The usual, scumbag. Do you actually know where a church is?

    • BIG GUY March 21, 2015 at 5:28 am

      The Constitution requires that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and the president’s oath of office commits him/her to do just that. Obama openly refuses to enforce immigration laws. “How blatantly hypocritical can one [president] be?”

      Should ICE agents arrest every illegal alien they encounter? Should police issue traffic tickets for every infraction they observe, no matter how minor? Should district attorneys be allowed discretion in declining to prosecute some cases? The list goes on. We regularly allow many government workers to exercise personal discretion. Why not here? In this case, unlike the examples above, due process is denied no one and the law is “faithfully executed.” Are your personal feelings about gay marriage more important than the feelings of others?

      There are plenty of hypocrites around of all political persuasions, but ANYBODY HOME risks joining the crowd when she singles out this law that she doesn’t like while ignoring others that happen to suit her fancy.

      • Mesaizacd March 21, 2015 at 10:15 am

        Blah blah blah blah blah and blah blah blah blah everybody is entitled to their opinion not just you blowhard.

      • anybody home March 21, 2015 at 10:42 am

        I was simply noting that all the hoohah and hoorah a week ago about Utah’s fabulous anti-discrimination law was simply blow-harded provincialism. The law is clearly worthless. Utah is still a discriminatory state and always will be. Gay people (I am not one but I know many) are breaking no laws but are treated like criminals. How about refusing to marry or serve real criminals, including drug pushers and addicts. Of course, in this state, that would greatly limit ordinary commerce.

        Your examples by the way are amazingly specious.

        • BIG GUY March 22, 2015 at 7:24 am

          Our government goes to great lengths to accommodate religious beliefs and practices. Let’s see if these further examples pass ANYBODY HOME’s “specious” test.

          In the days of the military draft, Quakers were allowed to opt for community service.

          Military MREs are prepared in both Kosher and Halal form and never packed in the same shipping container.

          Jews in the military are allowed to worship on Saturdays while others drill. Moslems are allowed to break multiple times per day for prayer.

          The “pastafarian” woman, who was defended on this web site several weeks ago, was allowed to wear a pasta strainer as a hat in her drivers license photo for religious reasons.

          Religious holidays for a variety of religions are honored by many state and local governments.

          If one objects to Utah’s new law, one must object to the above accommodations and all others as well.

          Utah’s new non-discrimination law has been praised as a model by leaders of LGBT organizations (see my post below for one example). And as I said in my original post, laws are being fully respected, no government service is being denied to anyone and strongly held moral beliefs are respected for all concerned. Should someone dressed in KKK garb be allowed to insist on being served by an African American government worker when others are readily available?

    • Mesaizacd March 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Don’t bother reading dumb guys garbage it will make you nauseous

  • Mike March 20, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    I don’t like that SGNews printed this as if it is an innovation, or a solution to last week’s non-discrimination bill. It seems like you are pandering to the pearl clutching church ladies.
    Last week you wrote about SB 297 and were more complete in reporting that the clerks can opt out, only after insuring there is someone there who will perform the ceremony. That report seemed less biased.

    • BIG GUY March 21, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Re-read the article, MIKE. The article above is quite clear that “clerks can opt out, only after insuring there is someone there who will perform the ceremony.”

      • Simone March 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm

        And thank God for that too. make the bigots point themselves out.

      • Mike March 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        You are correct.

  • Allie March 21, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Businesses cannot discriminate hiring a person because of religious beliefs. If, for example, a job requires a person to work on a day that person says they cannot work because of their religion, reasonable accommodations are made in their work schedule. Therefore, if a county clerk feels they cannot perform a marriage based on their religious beliefs, fine, then county should offer the clerk another position that is not in conflict with the clerks beliefs. If the clerk refuses that position, that is their choice, and they should be let go. The line between church and state is becoming too blurred in many cases across this country.

  • izzymuse March 21, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    The bill isn’t denying same sex marriages to be performed. It’s simply stating that a county clerk shouldnt be forced to perform a duty she/he is not comfortable doing. Seems reasonable to me. Both sides get a win-win. If I were a county clerk, I wouldnt have a problem doing it. There are plenty of people willing to be a part of administering same sex marriage. But I agree with not forcing either sides to do something they do not want to be involved with. Lighten up, Internet haters!

    • Hippononymous March 21, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      The bill isn’t denying fire to be started. It’s simply stating that a fireman shouldn’t be forced to perform a duty she/he is not comfortable doing. Seems reasonable to me. Both sides get a win-win. If I were a fireman, I wouldn’t have a problem doing it. There are plenty of people willing to be a part of putting out fires of same sex couple’s house. But I agree with not forcing either sides to do something they do not want to be involved with. Lighten up, Internet haters!

      • izzymuse March 27, 2015 at 8:25 pm

        Comparing marriage license to firefighters saving people in life or death situations = not comparable. Sorry. Lame analogy.

        • Hippononymous March 31, 2015 at 1:06 am

          I don’t see it as a false equivalence. If you don’t feel comfortable doing your job because of personal beliefs towards those you are serving, or will be serving, you should rethink your career choices. Legal accommodations shouldn’t be made for those who are “uncomfortable” with certain aspects of their job. Performing marriages is in their job description and same-sex marriage is legal. If they can’t do their job, they shouldn’t have that job.

          On a side note: Replace county clerk with any other job+personal belief system and the logic, or lack there of, behind this bill falls apart. If I’m a Muslim butcher, who doesn’t feel comfortable serving pork to customers, should I not have to serve those customers and still keep my job?

    • Hippononymous March 21, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Or just switch “gay marriage” with “black people”. You get the idea, I hope.

      • CaliGirl March 21, 2015 at 9:32 pm

        Being black and being gay are not the same. Being gay is a choice, your ethnicity is what you’re born with.

        • anybody home March 22, 2015 at 10:59 am

          Being gay is not a choice. Get educated.

        • Hippononymous March 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm

          It’s not, but so what if it was a choice anyways? It’s the County Clerk’s job to perform these unions. These unions are perfectly legal. If you can’t do your job, based on religious grounds, get a new job.

          • izzymuse March 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm

            Should government be the authority on who can or cannot marry to begin with? My point is that individual liberty is the point on all sides of human rights issues like marriage, business, religion, and anything between consenting adults. This whole thing is unconstitutional in my understanding.

    • fun bag March 21, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      What if the garbage man decided on moral grounds that he was no longer comfortable picking up the garbage, and so he stopped doing so. Seems perfectly reasonable?

  • Simone March 21, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    I have a question for Brother Herbert. This bill, or variations of this bill, have been put before congress for the last 3-4 years and it never passed. So what could hav ehappened this year to not only facilitate it’s passing bt a public signature? Oh wait, could it be that Herr Monson changed his mind?

  • anybody home March 21, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    So if non-Mormons don’t want to serve Mormons or sell to them, I guess that’s okay.

    • fun bag March 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Put sign up in bar: “will not serve liquor to mormons without permission slip from bishop”

  • BIG GUY March 22, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Ed Kociela and ANYBODY HOME are entitled to their opinions. But those opinions are not shared by everyone on their side of the fence.

    “This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization. “The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States.”

    • fun bag March 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

      blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ON AND ON

  • Allie March 22, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Here is another thought. People don’t HAVE to be married by a county clerk. Anyone can become certified to perform marriages. A good side business would be to become certified, advertise your services and make everyone happy. So maybe once this concept can be utilized, the issue over county clerks will become a non-issue.

    • izzymuse March 27, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Why does the government have the monopoly on marriage? One big reason: Another way to raise revenue for the state. As long as the majority has no problem with the government overstepping our rights – especially in the nanny state of Utah- the nonsense will never end.

  • anybody home March 22, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Here’s some blowback from outside Utah, Big Guy. These quotes come from a leading gay publication and reflect a somewhat more thoughtful and realistic view than that of people inside Utah and beyond the “professional” LGBT community like Chad Griffin, who have a public relations image to maintain. The devil was literally in the details of that bill and its exemptions.

    Sometimes I wonder how people here live with themselves.

    “But, as those outside of professional LGBT advocacy circles learned details about the bill — what provisions it included, what areas were not addressed, how it was negotiated, and what was included in a second, companion measure — those initial exuberant assessments, and Griffin’s use of the word “model” in particular, drew no small amount of fire.”

    “…(gay) advocates were taking pains to emphasize that Utah was not, in fact, a model for the nation. In what was pretty clearly an across the board retreat from the initial high-fiving, they acknowledged a well-known political reality about Utah — even before protections were broadened to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, the state had the nation’s most sweeping religious exemptions in its nondiscrimination laws. “Utah is as near to a theocracy as we have in this country,” Kendell told Gay City News this week.”

    • BIG GUY March 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      The only way to get anything done in the political arena is compromise. Utah’s law is a pertinent example. In contrast, if one is absolutely convinced of the moral superiority of his/her position, no compromise is ever acceptable. Think Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren. To the extent that these folks hold sway in the political process, the large majority in the middle are poorly served.

      An example: The progressive far-left wanted (and still wants) a single-payer health care system that they didn’t get in 2010. Does that make Obamacare a bad law? Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren think so. Nonetheless, Democrats got far more than the public wanted then and still doesn’t want now, a fact acknowledged by Chuck Schumer and other more thoughtful Democrats.

      Whining about the freedom of conscience enshrined in Utah’s law instead of taking the progress that comes with it will only stiffen resistance to future compromises by those who will rightly feel that compromise only leads to further demands.

      • anybody home March 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm

        But there was no progress! The exemptions made sure of that. Do you really believe Utah will ever come up with a more progressive law that removes the exemptions which eviscerate this law? No, the very fact that this state is a near theocracy will insure that this never happens. The powers that be in Utah (and we know who they are) will never allow it. When that theocracy sends its “emissaries” to neighboring states to interfere and try to wield the same cudgel, it’s just too much to ignore. Unless, of course, you’re part of the theocracy. This “can do no wrong” attitude is impossible. Utah should simply secede from the Union, close the borders to non-believers and be done with it.

        • BIG GUY March 22, 2015 at 6:30 pm

          Prohibitions on discrimination in housing and employment is no gain? Please explain.

  • ladybugavenger March 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    You all should write a book

    • anybody home March 22, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      I’ve written two that are published, but I’ll pass on this one…thanks anyway…

      Everybody have a good life!

      • ladybugavenger March 22, 2015 at 5:44 pm

        Aunless they are about government corruption, I have interest in that. Are they…..about government corruption?

      • fun bag March 22, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        sounds like AH is gonna rage quit again, lol

    • ladybugavenger March 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Oh geeeee if you had patience to read I would totally read your books AH

      • ladybugavenger March 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm

        Been drinking again, I mean I not you

      • fun bag March 22, 2015 at 8:56 pm

        spelling gets bad when drunk, huh?

        • ladybugavenger March 23, 2015 at 1:34 pm

          Drinking while not wearing glasses- bad combo

  • izzymuse March 27, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    As long as government is in control of legislating morality there will always be comprises that do NOT please both sides. Does the government give you a birth “permit”? No, the government writes a “birth certificate” that simply certifies one’s birth. So why is government involved in such personal relationships by permitting who can or cannot be married. The majority of Americans don’t see it otherwise because we don’t know different. If taxes, medical and legal rights of insurance (including property claims…etc.) are the problem, upgrade the legal system to the 21st century and let’s move on! Solution: Paradigm shift for the majority. It’s happening slowly but surely. But sometimes too slowly.

    • fun bag March 27, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      no one cares, ur comments are retarded and u look like a doof

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