In a press conference on Tuesday, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said they would support nationwide anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people — so long as those laws also respected religious liberty.
The leaders, who included three members of the Mormon church’s all-male Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as well as a prominent woman leader, said that the church would embrace a “fairness for all” approach. This would ensure religious freedom while also protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination in housing, employment and other areas.
Dallin Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that silencing religious people “because they have raised their voice in the public square” is “every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”
Oaks also pointed out a number of serious recent threats to religious liberty over LGBT rights — “the steady erosion of treasured freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution” — including last year’s forced resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over his support for California’s 2008 Proposition 8, as well as Houston Mayor Annise Parker subpoenaing anti-gay pastors’ sermons.
The church previously endorsed a 2009 Salt Lake City anti-discrimination ordinance, and spoke out against anti-gay bullying in 2010. Utah, home to the country’s largest Mormon community, has issued same-sex marriage licenses since October 2014, following its legalization in late 2013.
The announcement has not changed the church’s stance on marriage. Since denouncing polygamy in 1890, it has defined marriage as binding “a man and a woman” and “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” But in the press conference, Neill F. Marriott said that while the church is “not at liberty to change” its stance on marriage, God “expects us to treat each other with love and fairness.”
Catholics, Baptists and other religious leaders have noted the increasing affront to religious liberty by same-sex marriage advocates in recent years. Earlier this month, many protested the Atlanta mayor dismissing the city’s fire chief for his stance on homosexuality. (RELATED: Atlanta Fire Chief Terminated By Mayor For His Views On Homosexuality)
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 72 percent of Americans oppose workplace discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, while 53 percent favor “allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.”
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