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In Beehive State, SOGI Bill Still Stings

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By Tony Perkins

While other states slam the brakes on local SOGI (sexual orientation-gender identity) ordinances, Utah is moving stubbornly ahead. Leaders in the state have managed to convince people that they can do something no one else has: strike a balance between special sexuality rights and religious liberty. While small businesses across America continue proving Utah wrong, the Mormon church is intent on pulling the legislation over the finish line.

On Friday, the state Senate voted in a landslide 23-5 to ignore the cautionary tales of the Houston, San Antonio, and Springfield ordinances and give government the license to punish anyone who doesn’t believe in their radical ideas of sexuality. While the LDS church insists the measure carves out exemptions for religious groups, the bill offers about as much coverage as a fig leaf. As usual, the Left trotted out their familiar — but misguided — comparisons between the homosexuality and the racial persecution of times past. “This is the civil rights issue of our time,” one of the Democratic senators exclaimed.

That didn’t sit well with his African-American colleague, Alvin Jackson. Like many, he’s tired of the false — and offensive — comparison between race and sexuality. “To me, their collective efforts have been minimized, when you take that list that has race on it, and you put sexual orientation and gender identity right next to it. I cannot accept that,” he fired back. “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’m proud to say that. But my black Baptist roots won’t allow me to accept what’s in this legislation.”

FRC has tried to put these arguments in perspective, even writing an entire policy brief called, “Homosexuality is not a civil right.” As Peter Sprigg explains, “The stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. have become an inspiring part of American history. It’s not surprising that homosexual activists have tried to hitch their caboose to the ‘civil rights’ train… [But] when homosexual activists talk about their ‘civil rights,’ they are not talking about their constitutional rights, which have never been systematically denied to them as a class (unlike the historical experience of black Americans)…”

Unlike skin color, sexual behavior isn’t immutable, inborn, or involuntary. While homosexuals can change their behavior, a person can’t change his ethnicity. As such, there is no compelling, logical basis for treating homosexuality as a protected category under civil rights laws, or for granting special protection against “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation.” In the civil rights movement, African-Americans were unable to bring about political and cultural change because they were disenfranchised through laws restricting their vote and their voice. The homosexual community that regularly boasts of their political power and financial influence can make no such claim.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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