By Cassidy Hansen
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY—Gov. Gary Herbert emphasizes the importance of creating a legal balance between religious rights and non-discrimination in a media conference this week.
“It’s a tough issue, and I think everybody from either side knows that it is a tough issue. That means finding the appropriate balance. I’m confident the legislature can do that, but if they can’t do it, my belief is that we will have no bill for either side,” the governor said Feb. 12.
Currently, a pending House bill would allow government officials to refuse to perform gay marriages due to religious beliefs that conflict with this practice. When asked if he had, or would, solemnize a gay marriage, the governor responded that the situation had never presented itself. If asked, Governor Herbert determined he would “respectfully decline,” due to religious beliefs.
“It’s a favor, I’m not obligated to do it. It’s not like I’m a clerk or somebody else, where it is a government responsibility. I have the ability to perform a marriage. It’s not something I would want to do; but there are other people who are available to do it” Herbert said.
Although the Governor invokes his religious rights by refusing to officiate at a gay marriage, Herbert has been busy meeting with several legislators in an attempt to help create a bill that addresses both issues, so he may sign an effective bill into law. Bipartisanship through compassion, compromise, wisdom, methodical thought, and balance is essential to Herbert in the creation of a successful law that would protect religious rights and uphold non-discrimination harmoniously.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that there will be a bill where both sides will say ‘It’s not everything I want, but it’s something we can vote on’” said Governor Herbert.
However, the Governor also said he would be disappointed if only a religious rights bill or a non-discrimination bill reached his desk by the end of the session. Herbert was also uncertain as to whether or not he would chose to veto either of the main issues if only on reached his desk by the end of the legislative session.
“You know, I don’t want to presuppose what is going to come out of a bill,” Herbert said.
The Governor also felt that the recent LDS Church announcement regarding “nondiscrimination and religious liberty” was both a help and a hindrance to the political process. Ultimately, the announcement has forced legislators to make tough decisions, in Herbert’s opinion. Many legislators have been hesitant to discuss the issue because of pending Supreme Court decisions.
The governor on the other hand is ready to press forward, “I think now is the time, so let’s deal with the tough issue and find the right solutions.”