LDS Church expresses support for LGBT nondiscrimination measures

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints, participates in a news conference on religious freedom held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 27, 2015 | Photo by Intellectual Reserve, courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday morning it is in favor of legislation protecting the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in housing and employment, while also pressing government leaders to protect individual religious freedoms.

In a news conference that included three members of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder D. Todd Christofferson – as well as one female church leader, Neill F. Marriott, of the Young Women’s general presidency, the church called for a “fairness for all” approach that balances religious freedom protections with reasonable safeguards for LGBT people, specifically in areas of housing, employment and public transportation.

Oaks said in a news release:

Because we are frequently asked for our position on these matters, the Church asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:

  • We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
  • We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
  • We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.
  • We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation.

In 2009, the church supported a Salt Lake City ordinance protecting the housing and employment rights of LGBT individuals. The church broadened its position Tuesday by calling for similar protections on the state and national levels, as long as there is a balanced approach to protect constitutional religious exercise and conscience.

In Utah, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, has been attempting to get a nondiscrimination bill passed in the state for the last three years that is focused on protecting LGBT housing and employment rights. With the issue of same-sex marriage and the court fight over Amendment 3 out of the way, Urquhart said he believes the legislation will pass during the 2015 legislative session.

Though the LDS Church representatives did not mention Urquhart’s legislation specifically, the church’s general support of such measures may help push it through the Legislature and finally into codified state law.

In November 2014, the St. George City Council heard a request for the creation of a nondiscrimination ordinance modeled after the one adopted by Salt Lake City in 2009. The city has yet to make any public move on the matter.

“Those who seek the protection of religious conscience and expression and for the free exercise of their religion look with alarm at the steady erosion of treasured freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution,” Oaks said during the press conference.

Holland said people of faith must maintain their constitutional right to live their lives in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs. That includes choosing their profession or employment or serving in public office without intimidation, coercion or retaliation from another group, he said.

“Accommodating the rights of all people – including their religious rights– requires wisdom and judgment, compassion and fairness. Politically, it certainly requires dedication to the highest level of statesmanship,” Holland said. “Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry. These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse.”

While the church supports fairness in housing, employment and facets of public accommodation, speakers for the church also reminded the public and media that its stance on same-sex marriage has not changed.

During the press conference, Marriott said the church believes that sexual relations, other than between a man and a woman who are married, are contrary to the laws of God.

“This commandment and doctrine comes from sacred scripture and we are not at liberty to change it,” she said. “But, God is loving and merciful. His heart reaches out to all of His children equally and He expects us to treat each other with love and fairness.”

Responses

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, issued the following statement in response to the church’s announcement:

We laud the LDS Church’s statement of support. The Church joins a growing number of faith, civic and corporate leaders who also stand on the side of compassion and fairness. We believe that gay and transgender Utahns can live and work beside people of faith. Many within the LGBT community are themselves people of faith. We look forward soon to the day when all Utahns have the opportunity to live and work freely in the state we call home.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah also applauded the church’s support of the measure but expressed concerns about its “limited scope of public accommodation protection…namely only restaurants, hotels and transportation. Equality means that gay and transgender people should have full protection in public accommodations on par with race, gender, religion and other categories.”

Sen. James Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, also stated:

I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. As a Church, Mormons have a long history of being the victims of discrimination and persecution. They understand more than most the value and strength of creating a civil society that judges people by the content of their character and their ability to do a job.

Since serving as a senator, and as the only LGBT member of the Utah legislature, I can say one of the joys of the job has been to meet and enjoy the company of LDS officials. I know that together, we can build a community that strongly protects religious organizations constitutional liberties and in addition creates a civil, respectful, nurturing culture where differences are honored and everyone feels welcome.

Now, lets roll up our sleeves, get to work and pass a statewide Non-Discrimination Bill.

Related post

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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39 Comments

  • Hippononymous January 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Similar to their views of black people in the 70’s. Racist until they realize it is a losing battle, then switch sides and say they were for equality all along.

    • BeSelectiveInYourComments January 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      @HIPOMASSYMOUS, do a little research before you spout off with your racist-calling and read what the Church actually said today. No sides were switched, but calls were made for religious freedom and avoidance of discrimination. The Church has not changed their stance on Marriage, nor stated anything that hasn’t already been stated by Church leadership in the past. Maybe you should drop a bit of your militant hatred of religion.

      • Hippononymous January 27, 2015 at 11:27 pm

        No no, of course they haven’t changed their stance on marriage. I read the whole article. I feel though that the church’s current stance on LGBT rights is shifting with the current social trend/ideals regarding LGBT people. The same way it did in the 1970’s regarding the rights of black people.

        The zeitgeist surrounding the 70’s were filled people espousing civil rights to be granted to black people. This came out of the movement started in the 1960’s with MLK and the lot. I may be wrong, but I believe the church’s decisions regarding the rights of black people within the church were a direct result from bad public relations. With so many people, at the time, wanting blacks to have the same rights as everyone else, it simply made the church look bad when they held black people in lower regards than white. Subsequently, the church gave them to the rights to hold the priesthood and such.

        All this in mind, I feel the current trend of LGBT support is doing the same thing it did for black people in the 1970’s. Eventually, I think, the church will have some “divine revelation” that homosexuals should have the right to marry like heterosexuals do. It makes them look good in the eyes of the public. I’d bet this “revelation” will come out within the next 5 years or so.

        On a side note: That “racist-calling” of mine didn’t come from no where. The LDS religion was founded in a time of America wrought with hard-core racism. So when a religion pops-up during such a time, and it calls people of a certain race “cursed”, I have to assume it was racistly motivated.

    • Simone January 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Not only that but they go as far as to make up outrageous and easily disproven stories in a feeble attempt to rewrite history just as they did with the blacks.

  • Bunny2015 January 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    running a business, they realize they have to adapt to the times and modern trends. These guys are no idiots. They know how to make $$$.

  • koolaid January 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Why was the church so supportive of proposition 8 and amendment 3 if suddenly it embraces the LGBT community? What a crock of crap!

    • sagemoon January 27, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Just another “revelation.”

      • Koolaid January 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        $$$$. “We welcome you(r money)!”

    • Brian January 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      The church has been 50x more civil with the LGBT community than you’ve ever been with the church or its beliefs in your comments. They aren’t suddenly embracing they LGBT community (or embracing it at all), they are reiterating their long-standing support for certain LGBT rights, namely housing and employment. Their position on gay marriage hasn’t changed, and won’t. They’re also reiterating their call for civility and tolerance from both sides. It was actually a very good press conference and very fair and tolerant. Perhaps you should actually ~listen~ to it before spewing.

      • mesaman January 27, 2015 at 6:26 pm

        You are spot on! But there is not much chance the uninformed will accept your comments. Spewing is what the do best, listening or reading for understanding is what they do worst.

      • AtTheDefense January 27, 2015 at 6:37 pm

        Well said Brian. Koolaid, Sagemoon and so many others spout such venom, anger and vile against the LDS Church on this site every day, and yet the Church’s fair and civil statement today is consistent with what the Church has said regularly. Civility is a virtue. Name-calling and sarcastic half-truths and lies are not. Seems like lessons could be learned by the very Church these people hate so vehemently.

        • sagemoon January 28, 2015 at 11:47 am

          I am offended! I do not spout venom, anger, or vile against the LDS church every day. In fact, it’s a rare occurrence when I do. And no LDS member can dispute that policy changes in their church are NOT due to revelations made to the prophet.

      • koolaid January 27, 2015 at 6:44 pm

        How many people committed suicide because of the proposition 8 which that church strongly embraced and encouraged people to fund? Proposition 8 was called proposition hate, for hatred is what it embraced. Just how many people committed suicide and how many were ostricized from that hatred? You really should see the documentary on it, that is if your church will allow you to watch it.

        • AtTheDefense January 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

          Interesting question you propose Koolaid. Show me the data. Just how many was it? You tell us. What do you have to even back up your insinuation? It was only called Proposition hate by those who do just that, hate and despise the religious right. No anger was spewed by the Church, ever. That can hardly be said about those who militantly defended the Prop. Defending Marriage was not hateful, regardless of how much you’d like to say it was.

          • WHATSUPINUTAH January 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

            @Athedefense, Dude you made a typo… I think you meant to say, That can hardly be said about those who militantly “opposed” the Prop. I think there will be those who will jump all over that mistake. Too bad.

      • Simone January 27, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        Oh they’ll change their stance. It might take the government threatening their tax exempt status, again, but it’ll happen. You just watch. 🙂

      • Bender January 28, 2015 at 12:05 am

        “they are reiterating their long-standing support for certain LGBT rights”
        .
        Well, yeah Brian, kinda. Kudos to my church for stepping up to the plate but this enlightenment is rather recent. It was only a few short years ago that church leaders dropped the line that homosexuality was a choice. A few years before that the only preaching you heard mentioning homosexuality was peppered with verbiage such as ‘vile’, ‘unnatural’, ’caused by masturbation’ and ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’.

  • Dianne S. January 27, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Sorry, but you cannot have a compromise on basic human rights. They are universal and no-one can deny them by claiming religious motivation.

    • Brian January 27, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      They were supporting basic human rights (housing and the right to provide for yourself). Getting a wedding cake or abortion pills from the privately owned company of your choice, when there are 50 others to choose from that would gladly do business with you, are NOT basic human rights. The courts sanctioning them as such is lunacy and waters down the Bill of Rights to the point of being meaningless. If reasonable members of the LGBT community would stand up for that then the fight for actual human rights would probably go more smoothly.

      • koolaid January 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm

        Hatch, who is Conservative Republican Senator and a Utah Mormon got contributions from a company that made contraceptives and the morning after pill which is an abortion pill. Shows how much members can stray from those beliefs for money.

      • Simone January 27, 2015 at 8:51 pm

        What, in your opinion, are “actual human rights”?

  • ladybugavenger January 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Are the lines of separation of church and state being crossed here?

    • ladybugavenger January 27, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      But why would they take this stand in a press conference? And why is the state mentioning the church will support a non discrimination bill? The federal government already has a non discrimination law for employment and housing. So, I’m going to have to go with its a money move.

      • Simone January 27, 2015 at 8:54 pm

        With the current Mormon leadership, everything is about money.

  • Judgment:Day January 27, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Again, you are a amusing. The points being made today and everyday are. 1- if everyone lived according to the teaching of Jesuc Christ, there would be no reasons or need for these laws or any other except for the laws of God. Everyone would be treated with love and respect. 2-Christ has always taught The laws of God. He leaves it up to each individual to decide for themselves to either follow these laws or not to follow these laws. This is called free agency, and it’s given to all the children of God. It does not matter if the world has a laws put on to man that man must follow here on earth. It does not change the law of God that will be followed by all believers and none believers alike through out all eternity.For the saints of God live in the world not of the world. 3- You may chose to follow mans laws, instead of following Gods laws that your free agency at work. But you condemn yourself to that law in which was broken,thus you also claim a punishment associated to that law. As members of God church, we should never do more or less than that which has been taught by our Savior Jesus Christ. In doing so we would take away an individual’s right of free agency. For every person must decide for themselves to do good or to do evil. To decide what is right and what is wrong. To live amongst the followers of God for eternity, or to live in a state of misery for eternity. We all get to choose. Choose wisely my good friends. May God bless you, and keep you safe in his loving arms, until that final day of judgment. At that time we will all see and we will all confess that Jesus is the Christ. In which he will ask, did you love God with all your heart and your neighbors also? Did you keep all the laws of God or did you follow the pride of your heart and follow the laws of man? You have free agency friends do as you will. With a pleading heart He will say, please please forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

    • Bunny2015 January 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      you are a nut job

      • One for the road January 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

        LOL oh yeah you got that right.. Your talking waaaaaaaaay. out there.!

  • Bender January 27, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    and…. all the ultra-conservative Mormon heads’s asplode.

    • mesaman January 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      HUH?

      • Bender January 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        You know.. asplode! Boom.

        • mesaman January 27, 2015 at 9:59 pm

          No, I don’t know. Is this ebonics, ebola, or what?

          • Bender January 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm

            Get with the program MESAMAN. This ain’t 2014 anymore.
            .

    • TODRYT January 27, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      It seems the illogical reasoning of religious misunderstanding is the basic fundamental of nerplexia as well as other factors that have been interconnected to the center of the situation leading to the reasonable doubts that lead to the moral obligation of the soul creating a lapse of professional judgement based on the human factors of traversing the celestial highway of spirituality. Therefore the logical conclusion of the situation that has been generated for centuries of living without the need to be spirituality assisted in the future world of human conquest of the world as we know it today… and is my professional opinion

  • Aaron January 28, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Sign up at St. George News for professional training in the field of being offended by every topic.

    • One for the road January 28, 2015 at 9:18 am

      No problem you can offend everybody right here for free

    • My Evil Twin January 28, 2015 at 10:04 am

      Sadly, you don’t need SGN to be trained in being offended. Shoot, the government itself is the largest “school of being offended” that there is.

    • One for the road January 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

      It won’t be long before I’m told I can’t say..gosh darn sniffers… I’m sure that’s next

  • groanattack January 28, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    This is how a VISION begins!

  • Real Life January 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Wow does this all seem forced.

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