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House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, worries that legislators who want to ensure that clergy and government officials are not forced to perform gay marriages against their beliefs might go too far, and use religious liberty to hurt civil rights.

So he said Friday that he plans to introduce a bill to create state recognition of the existing National Religious Freedom Day, hoping debate will help lawmakers take the wide view on religious freedom originally espoused by Thomas Jefferson.

"When we understand the first principles correctly, it reduces the likelihood we're going to disagree. I think we have to keep in mind a broad definition of what religious freedom is," King said.

King expressed concern about HB66 by Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi. In part, it seeks to codify that clergy cannot be forced to perform gay or other marriages that are contrary to their beliefs. King agrees with that.

"But it would allow individuals acting in an official capacity as a government official to refuse to perform their duties based on individual religious objections. That's problematic," he said. "That's sort of saying we will dictate which religions government favors, and which ones we don't."

King said other bills are also expected to address gay rights and marriage laws after Utah's ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional.

Curtis Price, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City, said at King's news conference that he and other religious leaders "worry that religious freedom might be used to deny basic human rights to someone else to subvert some of the gains that have been made."

King said he will introduce a resolution to give state recognition of the National Religious Freedom Day set by Congress for every Jan. 16, when Virginia passed Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom — considered a precursor to the Constitution's First Amendment.

King said Jefferson and the founders believed religious freedom "is the right of individuals to believe or not believe as they choose, without fear of powerful institutions dictating their beliefs."

King, who is LDS, said that should make sense in Utah, settled by Mormons after they were driven from state to state. "Those who understand that history … generally are going to have a lot of sympathy for the idea that we have to be very tolerant of faiths, faith traditions and non-belief traditions."

King's news conference on Friday occurred on this year's National Religious Freedom Day, and was scheduled long before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Friday to hear arguments on gay marriage in April.