Salt Lake City, UT, January 25, 2019 … ADL today voiced strong support for the Utah Legislature’s efforts to pass new hate crimes legislation that will be more effective and comprehensive, covering all classes of victims, including LGBTQ people, and applying to all acts of criminality, including felonies.
“Comprehensive hate crimes legislation is essential to protecting the safety and well-being of all Utahns,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “Hate crimes demand extra attention because of their impact--they not only hurt individual victims, but they also intimidate and isolate whole communities and weaken the bonds of our society. At a time when our society is polarized and hate crimes are on the rise, we urge legislators in Utah to make the bill currently being considered a high priority.”
Greenblatt was in Salt Lake City this week for meetings with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the First Presidency, as well as Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes. In a lecture to students at Brigham Young University, Greenblatt provided a history of ADL’s work advocating for hate crime legislation at the state and federal level, and discussed how effective hate crime legislation can deter acts of hate.
“We are so grateful for the warm welcome and longstanding friendship that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has extended to ADL and to the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said. “Moreover, we deeply appreciate the Church clarifying that it does not oppose legislation which would extend hate crime protections to all Utahns, including members of the LGBTQ community.”
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have established hate crime laws based on model legislation originally crafted by ADL. While Utah currently has a hate crime law, the measure does not protect specific groups, such as the LGBTQ community, nor does it apply to felony crimes. State and local prosecutors have said repeatedly that, as written, the law is essentially unusable. Despite over 2,000 cases investigated as hate crimes by state and local law enforcement, no one has been convicted under the existing statute, which was enacted in 1992.
This week, the Church’s Director of Government and Community Relations Marty Stephens stated that “We want to make it clear that we do not oppose the hate crimes legislation.”