Bill allowing Utah officials to refuse to perform gay marriages heads to governor

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers approved a bill on Thursday that would allow government officials to refuse to marry couples, including same-sex couples, for religious reasons. The measure would require a county clerk's office to designate someone to marry all couples if the clerk opts out.

The proposal passed in a 25-3 vote and with the support of the legislature's only openly gay member, Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis. It now heads to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert for approval, although it is unclear if he supports the proposal.

The bill originally included broad religious protections that earned criticism from LGBT advocates. But Equality Utah Director Troy Williams said his organization is now neutral on the bill after its sponsor, Republican Sen. Stuart Adams, addressed their concerns.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement Wednesday night that it defines marriage as between a man and a woman but also that everyone should be treated with respect.

Adams' bill is a "balanced and fair approach to marriage and religious freedom protections," the church said.

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