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Utahns react to LDS Church statement on LGBT nondiscrimination and religious freedom

Reaction has been swift to the news conference where leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced support of a state-wide nondiscrimination bill that includes gender identity and sexual orientation protections, while calling for religious freedom legislation.

Utah Sen. James Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City:

“I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. As a religious institution, Mormons have had 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.”

Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams

“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.”

Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe

“I think it definitely brings the discussion to the forefront. I think there are people who have been waiting to see what the church’s position is, and that’s important to legislators. I think this probably clarifies the issue a little bit to the point where it will start to bring some people together to look at melding the two issues so that we come up with something that works for everybody.”

House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville

“I think it’s important that if we advance the nondiscrimination [bill], that it needs to go in tandem and very likely the same legislation as religious liberty. I think they’ve got to be close together.”

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon

“The LDS Church’s message is clear: All people should feel safe while at work, in their homes and out in public. Utahns are known for their compassion, and the LDS Church is sending the message to the rest of the nation and world that we should embrace all people in our community as fellow citizens and fellow human beings regardless of sexual orientation or religion. This is a courageous move by the LDS Church and we understand the sensitivity of this issue on both sides. Democrats hope for the passage of a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance through empathy and open debate”

House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City

“The statement made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today is an additional and important step to help us find common ground on these important issues. It will be helpful in our effort to resolve these difficult and emotional matters. I firmly believe that, in order to protect the personally held values of people on all sides, any advancement of nondiscrimination legislation should be coupled with legislation to safeguard protections to religious freedom. I am confident that, as elected officials, we can work together with religious, business and civic leaders as well as the LGBT community to craft policies that treat all people with dignity and respect.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Democrat

“No one should be discriminated against simply because of who they are, whether it’s having a decent place to live or a job to support themselves and their families or their religious beliefs.

“In 2009, I helped craft the Salt Lake City ordinances granting protections against discrimination and as a Utah State senator, sponsored legislation in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to expand these protections statewide. Treating people with dignity and equality under the law and protecting constitutionally granted religious liberties are compatible goals. I support both, due to my deeply held religious beliefs and my LDS faith.

“As a policymaker and public servant, I’m ready to join in a mutually respectful and constructive dialogue with all who would make Utah a place where nondiscrimination and constitutionally granted religious freedoms are the rule.”

Sutherland Institute, ultra-conservative “think tank”

“Sutherland Institute has long called for protection of religious freedom for individuals and organizations. This principle must be reflected in any proposed legislation. Residents of Utah and citizens everywhere are entitled not just to belief, but also to the free exercise of their religious beliefs and moral conscience—both in private and in public.

“We also reiterate our position that Utah can address valid concerns of mistreatment in employment and housing and public services without contributing to an environment of intolerance toward people of faith and moral conscience.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

“Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all Americans and is an essential part of how we define ourselves as a nation. In working towards reasonable nondiscrimination standards, we must not undermine religious liberty. I will continue to help ensure that legislation designed to promote greater equality includes robust religious exemptions and nonretaliation provisions.”

LDS Democrats of America

“We give the LDS Church a standing ovation for speaking so strongly in favor of nondiscrimination legislation today. We call on the Utah legislature and US Congress to make nondiscrimination the law of the land. It is day 2 of the Utah session, let’s make it happen on day 3. We call on the Idaho legislature to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act. We call on the US Congress to pass ENDA.

“We echo the words of Sister Neill Marriott that, ‘God is loving and merciful. His heart reaches out to all his children equally and he expects us to treat one another with love and fairness.’ It is Christ’s example of nondiscrimination and tolerance that motivates us as Democrats. We applaud the LDS Church for including a female general auxiliary leader in this historic news conference.

“We recognize the Church’s disposition to balance these calls for equality under the law with a solidified position on religious freedom. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted, ‘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.’ We similarly plead for courtesy among all involved in these debates and encourage openness in the thoughtful opinions expressed.”

Kent Frogley, president of the Utah Pride Center board of directors

“We applaud this statement of support from the LDS Church. We are hopeful that growing support from organizations, businesses, and people of faith will finally make this nondiscrimination bill a reality. The Utah Pride Center sees the real and personal effects that discrimination has in the daily lives of people across the State. Passing nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community will increase safety and fairness in workplaces and housing.“

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12 Comments

  • The Mormon Church just came out supporting an anti-LGBT discrimination law AND a "religious freedom" law which allows such discrimination — giving religious-belief exceptions to those same anti-discrimination laws. 1) Will the "religious freedom" exceptions make the rule worthless? Or 2) will the Utah legislature vote down the anti-discrimination law? Either way, you'll know immediately that the top controlling Mormon Church leaders are speaking yet again with forked tongues — lying about their claimed support for LGBT anti-discrimination laws in housing and employment.

  • If the anti discrimination law can be ignored if the people I want to discriminate against can be because of my religious beliefs then this is really a 'discriminate if I don't like you' set of bills.

  • notice that the republicans said they were waiting to hear what the church said to know how to vote! That is reason enough to believe the church should not be tax exempt. And religious discrimination is STILL discrimination, and in my book worse because it is done in the name of "Christianity". This is not good news … this is a veiled attack on equality with a small bone thrown in to try and cover it up. Shame on the Democrats here for applauding the act of prejudice.

  • Do you serve barf bags with this article? I mean I know that people like Troy Williams and James Debakis who I respect are in an uneviable position to have to play a delicate political game with their response but this statement from the Church is not going to give us a good anti-discrimination law if it's overriding feature is a "Get out of equality free" card if you invoke Jesus.

  • The proof is in the bills. The Church brings up poor example of "religious liberties". Elder Oaks said that “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.”
    "Nothing is achieved," Holland said, "if either side resorts to bullying, political point scoring or accusations of bigotry." Steady erosion? Political points? I have to laugh. Are you?

  • There only doing this because thry want something im return. The LDS "church" is like a teenaged girl; gets upset & pouts when she doesnt get her way, gossips about her classmates that arn't like her & two faced as hell.

  • All the LDS Church is saying with this statement is "LGBT people have the right to be protected from discrimination — except by us."

    It's especially interesting that Oaks called boycotts and other actions taken when individuals speak out against LGBT rights wrong. Individuals have the right to speak out on any issue, but others also have a right to take their business wherever they choose, and to speak out in opposition to others' expressed opinions.

    In other words, Oaks suggests that a bakery should be allowed to deny a gay couple a wedding cake, but that gay couples shouldn't then be allowed to take their business dollars elsewhere.

    The right to free speech exists, but there is no such right to guaranteed patronage of one's business.

  • Romney 2016. That's what this is about. We LGBT folks are organized, and part of the reason that Twit… oops, Mitt, lost his 2008 bid for president. So how about before we announce that he's running again, we do a little damage control. Let's pacify the LGBT people in to THINKING we are progressive, when in reality it's just hatred with a little febreeze thrown in to cover the stench of ignorance. Keep your false hope LDS church. My next president will make your hatred illegal for the entire country.

  • Why are our government officials weighing in on this? Church and state are separate according to the constitution. This should be a non issue. The Mormons should have the same political power as any other religion in our state, which is none! Welcome to little old school Russia!

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