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Senators to vote on bill that would allow Utah officials to refuse to perform marriages

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SALT LAKE CITY — A proposal that would allow Utah government employees to refuse to marry same-sex couples passed its first hurdle Friday.

The bill, which was unanimously approved by a Senate committee, would allow officials to opt out of marrying same-sex couples only if they give up their right to marry any couples.

It would also require every county to have a designated person on hand to perform marriages, even if the county clerk opts out.

Bill sponsor Sen. Stuart Adams, a Layton Republican, also helped negotiate a landmark anti-discrimination bill that won the endorsement of both the Mormon church and LGBT activists.

Adams said Friday that with both bills, he wants to "do what's right, do what's fair, do what's balanced."

Representatives from the LGBT advocacy organization Equality Utah and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concerns with certain parts of the marriage legislation, but told lawmakers that they were positive that Adams had good intentions.

Equality Utah's Troy Williams said some sections of the marriage bill appear to allow discrimination against LGBT individuals in certain contexts, such as at religious hospitals and doctor's offices.

Adams said he has addressed those concerns in a revised version of the bill.

The legislation also states that religious organizations do not have to recognize marriages that violate their beliefs.

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