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Utah Governor Signs Long-Awaited Hate-Crimes Law

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A measure strengthening Utah's hate crimes law is being hailed as historic as Gov. Gary Herbert signs it into law.

Herbert said at a signing ceremony Tuesday the law sends a message that "every individual in our society is worthy of dignity, respect and love."

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher creates stiffer penalties for people convicted of targeting someone because of their sexual orientation, race, religion or other factors. Utah's previous hate-crimes law didn't protect specific groups and prosecutors said it was unenforceable.

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Thatcher says the issue became personally meaningful during the years he worked to get it through the state legislature.

The long-stalled measure gathered momentum after the brutal November beating of a Latino man.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also clarified it didn't oppose it.