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Utah Conservatives Make ‘Political expression’ a Protected Class in New Hate Crime Law

UPDATE: (correction) It was originally reported that the bill made ‘conservatives a protected class,’ but HillReporter’s fact-finding team found that it only indirectly did so by protecting all political expression, for all political parties.

Hate crime laws are very common in states around the nation. Utah’s state legislature, however, has taken years to push through legislation that would protect traditionally marginalized communities.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

The bill was languishing on in the state Senate until one key provision was added by the state’s Republicans. The latest iteration passed in a landslide vote of 64-9, after ‘”political expression” was  added as a protected class. UPDATE: (correction) It was originally reported that the bill made ‘conservatives a protected class,’ but HillReporter’s fact-finding team found that it only indirectly did so by protecting all political expression, for all political parties.

State Representative, Karianne Lisonbee (R), spearheaded the addition of conservatives to the hate crime law. She said of her experiences:

“I have had hateful things said about me. I have experienced death threats over the last few days. I have had people tell me, ‘How dare you play the victim card.’ And I ask you, is not having somebody threaten you making you a victim?”

Many of the threats against Lisonbee came after she ferociously fought against a bill that would have banned conversion therapy in the state. She has a history of making comments that point to her supporting the practice.

Representative Angela Romero (D) countered Lisonbee, “Many of us have received threats and people have condemned us for issues that we believe in, but it’s very very different than because of who you are as a person.”

The bill, though, easily passed. Governor Gary Herbert (R), tweeted, “I appreciate the great work of the legislature on SB103, which will serve as a powerful tool in providing critical protections to Utah residents. I look forward to it landing on my desk and signing it into law.”

Despite the late addition, the state LGBTQ community is pleased that they will finally be given some protections. Troy Williams, the Equality Utah Executive Director, said, “It was incredibly moving to have a body of conservative elected lawmakers vote for protections for LGBTQ individuals.”



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