Record editorial: LGBTQ rights are human rights, and it’s past time U.S. law reflects that truth
LGBTQ people should not be victimized by bigotry when applying for a job or searching for housing.
In Park City, where we pride ourselves on being forward-thinking and inclusive on such matters, that’s hardly a controversial statement. But unfortunately, it’s not the law of the land in the United States.
That would change, however, if Congress passes the Equality Act, which would amend civil rights laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, giving LGBTQ people a much-needed shield from discrimination in matters of employment, housing and education, as well as in places of public accommodation like retail stores. The legislation is expected to receive a floor vote any day in the House, where it has already earned committee approval.
Utahns should be proud to live in a state that already gives LGBTQ people many of the protections included in the Equality Act, the result of a hard-earned, landmark anti-discrimination measure state lawmakers passed in 2015. But it’s past time for everyone in America to enjoy the same rights.
We call on Utahns of both political parties to press lawmakers to support the Equality Act and help relegate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the waste bin of history, where such behavior belongs.
The supportive voice of Utahns is critical as an argument is raging — even among those who support the broader ideal of LGBTQ protections — about whether the legislation is the right way to achieve equality. The debate flared in Utah on Monday as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints voiced opposition to the bill, despite backing Utah’s 2015 anti-discrimination law. Church leaders argue the Equality Act would prioritize LGBTQ rights over those of people to act on sincerely held religious beliefs.
That’s a major development, considering all six of Utah’s congressional lawmakers are members of the church. Indeed, the Deseret News reported Tuesday that all five Republicans in that group have come out against the Equality Act on religious freedom grounds.
Concerns about First Amendment infringements, of course, should be taken seriously. But the fact remains that a person has no more control over their sexual orientation or gender identity than they do their skin color, regardless of what some argue. It follows, then, that LGBTQ people deserve the same rights to equal treatment under the law afforded racial minorities in the Civil Rights Act.
Regardless of their rationale, an employer refusing to hire a trans person — or a Colorado baker being unwilling to make a cake for a gay couple — is just as wrong as a restaurant owner hanging a “Whites only” sign in the window.
The Equality Act would write that truth into U.S. law, ushering in a new era of freedom for the LGBTQ community. Stand up and encourage lawmakers to seize their opportunity to make it so.