News :: Religion

Mormon Church Working With LGBT Leaders on Utah Anti-Discrimination Bill

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Feb 12, 2013
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Officials from the Mormon Church have apparently been working with Utah’s LGBT community in order to create a bill that would protect gays from housing and employment discrimination in Utah, Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, opened a bill file on Thursday, called "Housing and Employment Amendments" and will sponsor the measure if the two parties can reach an agreement. Although 16 cities in Utah have passed similar ordinances, this bill would ban anti-gay discrimination statewide.

"We have been working with many community partners, but we’re not ready to release a bill," Brandie Balken, executive director for Equality Utah, told the newspaper. Although she wouldn’t give details about specific discussions, she did say talks have been going on for eight months and she is confident that a bill will be introduced soon. She added the groups will, "take the time necessary to work on the language until we have the best possible bill."

The move may surprise some, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a strong supporter of Proposition 8 in 2008. Still, within recent years, members of the church have changed their views on the LGBT community, even though the Mormon church opposes same-sex marriage. In 2009, the church backed a similar measure that was passed by Salt Lake City and said it is "fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage." The measure exempted religious institutions from banning discrimination, however.

In December the Associated Press reported that Mormon leaders launched a new website that urged church members to be compassionate towards the LGBT community. LDS officials made it clear that they still view marriage as a union between one man and one woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful but the website urges gay and lesbian Mormons to stay with the church.

"Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma," church leaders wrote on the website. "Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective it can be done."

In June, AP pointed out that more than 300 straight members of the Mormon church marched in the Utah Gay Pride Parade, which marked the first time a large group of Mormons took part in the parade.

While the Mormon church has evolved on their views on gay rights, a spokesman for the LDS Church said the church has been contacted as "one of many community stakeholders."

"The discussions are very preliminary. At this point there is no bill for anyone to respond to," Scott Trotter told the Tribune.

James Humphreys with the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for conservative members of the LGBT community, said that the "passage will create uniformity for the business community."

"This is not only the right thing to do for all Utahns but speaks to our conservative values as we want simplicity in government and equal treatment, under the law, for each of Utah’s citizens," he added.

The Tribune notes that businesses in Utah attempted to pass the ban on housing and employment discrimination but a Senate committee voted against the measure.

The new anti-discrimination bill will have its share of opposers as well.

"If the law looked like the Salt Lake [City] ordinance, that would be very, very upsetting and something that, as always, I have opposed and will continue to oppose in every way possible unless I get some kind of revelation," Gayle Ruzicka, a conservative political activist and president of the Utah Eagle Forum, a conservative interest group, said.

The president of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think-tank, Paul Mero, also told the newspaper that discussions between the Mormon Church and LGBT community over the anti-discrimination bill have been going on for years. He added that to his understanding, not all of the church leaders are agreeing on the measure and gay rights groups may have to give up too much to get the church’s endorsement.

"We’ve opposed [the anti-discrimination law] since the beginning and we’re going to oppose it," he said. "It would be unfortunate to create a war among friends, but that’s exactly what will happen."

Comments

  • BOB KELLERMAN, 2013-02-12 04:30:51

    EVERYTHING that mormonity does is for its own purposes. They spent millions on those "and I’m a morhole" TV ads, mostly garnering laughs, and now they are on a tear to LOOK accepting of Gays, after the flak from their Prop 8 lies. THE MAIN PURPOSE is to keep their own Gay kids in the fold, convincing them that marrying heterosexually due to their love of the church is the best course. Remember, the whole scheme is based on all the generations of your family being gods together in the afterlife, and you leave empty seats in your family’s section when you selfishly go off and be a godless queer.


  • Anonymous, 2013-02-12 09:21:59

    Reading between the lines can be entertaining.


  • russell cluff, 2013-02-12 13:22:58

    Living in utah and ex-Mormon I agree. It is a PR stunt to distract people from the fact that they are fighting our rights on all fronts. They sent a special envoy to the Supreme Court to not only try to force DOMA to stay in affect but also to get the Feds to deny that states have a right to choose in affect nullifying all legally married gays. They are a SICK hate group hiding behind closed doors. I’m constantly appalled by who they are and the things they do. Even though this year they asked their members to try to tolerate gays in their family’s they actually shun those who do. My own family fights against this because they continue to speak to me and won’t force me to change.


  • Blondie , 2013-02-12 14:50:25

    "Godless Queer???" OH HELLL YEAH! ;) *cough* I can’t wait to see if the Jehovah Witnesses also jump on this ship. They have been as bad, maybe worse when it comes to Gay issues. I dout it happening though, because if they did, that would contradict all the bullshit they’ve taught over the decades and could even open them up for some serious law cases.


  • BOB KELLERMAN, 2013-02-12 17:28:10

    REMEMBER, FOLKS --- it’s a waste to call the morhole and catholic leaders names and say they are hateful. This is all about MONEY AND POWER. They don’t want to lose members to the "affliction of same sex attraction", but they also dont want to lose members by looking like bigots


  • Anonymous, 2013-02-13 08:09:57

    Shameles political ploy. Im not buying it. Theyve been against human rights since their inception and all of a sudden they are "coming around"? Yeah, right.


  • Jonathan Willner, 2013-02-20 15:36:13

    I’m a little surprised at the reactions above. The Mormons still have a long way to go, but it seems like they’re taking a big first step in the right direction. As a Jewish New Yorker I’m actually pleasantly surprised. It’s a lot more than the Catholic Church or most Prostestant fundamentalists, the Boy Scouts or the U.S. government are doing. Don’t forget there are still about 30 states where LGBT people have no right to a job, a home, an education or service in a public establishment. Utah seems to be on the road to joining the other 20.


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