Mormons Throw Support Behind Gay-Rights Cause

Mormons throw support behind gay-rights cause

It looked like a stunning reversal: the same church that helped defeat gay marriage in California standing with gay-rights activists on an anti-discrimination law in its own backyard.

On Tuesday night, after a series of clandestine meetings between local gay-rights backers and Mormons in Salt Lake City, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would support proposed city laws that would prohibit discrimination against gays in housing and employment.

The ordinances passed and history was made: It marked the first time the Salt Lake City-based church had supported gay-rights legislation.

The Mormon church — which continues to suffer a backlash over its support last year of Proposition 8, the measure banning gay marriage in California — emphasized that its latest position in no way contradicts its teachings on homosexuality.

But the action is one of the strongest signs yet that even conservative religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage might be willing to support legal protections for gays that fall short of that.

At the same time, the church's position has angered some of its conservative allies on social issues, prompted questions about whether public relations is its real motivation, and put the church on the spot over how far it will go on similar legislation on the state and federal level.

"This is a very good public relations response that has the additional benefit of actually representing the way the current church leadership thinks," said Armand Mauss, a retired professor at Washington State University and scholar of Mormonism.

Some of the church's conservative allies in the gay marriage battles, however, call it a setback. The two new ordinances make it illegal to fire or evict someone for being gay, bisexual or transgender.

Such legislation robs employers and landlords of their rights and gives legal ammunition to judges sympathetic to gay marriage, said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the conservative Family Research Council.

"It's disappointing and I'm fearful that it reflects in part a reaction to the attacks they came under after Proposition 8 — an effort to bend over backwards to exhibit tolerance toward homosexuals in some way," Sprigg said.

Michael Otterson, director of public affairs for the Mormon church, said Wednesday that church leaders were able to support the ordinance because it doesn't carve out special rights for gays.

Supporting "basic civil values," Otterson said, does not compromise the church's religious belief that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage poses a threat to traditional marriage.

"There are going to be gay advocates who don't think we've gone nearly far enough, and people very conservative who think we've gone too far," Otterson said. "The vast majority of people are between those polar extremes and we think that's going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness."

The position is not a reversal, Otterson said. In August 2008 the church issued a statement saying it supports gay rights related to hospitalization, medical care, employment, housing or probate as long as they "do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches."

Church officials say the city ordinances were not discussed in the recent meetings between church staff and gay rights leaders, and that it was the mayor who put the proposals on the table.

Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign, said the Mormon church's stand on the Salt Lake City ordinances could help alter the debate over gay rights.

"The church deserves credit, but that credit really comes because people have been pushing for it," Knox said. "It's not something thing they arrived at on their own and out of the goodness of their hearts."

The church's action is the latest sign of a softening among some conservative Christians toward offering some legal protections to gays.

Activists are trying to garner support from evangelicals for a federal employment anti-discrimination law that would cover gays. However, religious reaction was largely negative to a federal hate crimes act protecting homosexuals that President Barack Obama recently signed into law. Several conservative Christian groups argued that preaching against homosexuality could be deemed a hate crime under the legislation.

The Mormon church has not taken a stance on either piece of federal legislation.

Otterson, the church spokesman, said that in the case of the Salt Lake City ordinances, Mormon leaders weighed in because they were responding to a request for feedback on specific legislation.

Asked whether the church would take a stand on similar state or federal legislation, Otterson said: "The church leadership is not inclined to offer free advice where it's not being requested."

1 comments:

Godhead November 15, 2010 at 3:38 PM  

Homosexuality is a moral issue. Its an ethical issue. There is no question that God oppose it as going against the natural order of things. Its also a fact that God gave them over to homosexuality as a consequence for not considering God worth contemplating. Its also a fact that such behaviour and many others that are against God's law spread death and disease. So it only stands to reason that God's way is better. There is no reason to discriminate against "Gays" when it comes to work or any of the other common necessities that we all need. I wouldn't victimise or discriminate against a homosexual. In fact the bed I have now was given to me by a lesbian. A very expensive bed, I really needed one and so God works in mysterious ways. We have all broken God's law in one way or another. discriminating against somebody for their behaviour is different from showing mercy to a sinner. Jesus said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone at her." I don't know about anyone else here, but I am not without sin. I do not have to approve or accept anyone's behaviour but I have to watch that mine is not contrary to Christian love. We all have basic human rights. Whether homosexuality is right or wrong is one issue. Our basic human rights is another. Both issues should not conflict with the other. I will only say this, no one can be gay and also be a Christian. I have had debates with gay people on this, and stood my ground. That's where I draw the line. For after Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you," he said, "Go away and sin no more." Jesus acknowledge that adultery was a sin, even though he never condemned her for it. Love your blog Handmaiden. God bless!!!

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I spent a lot of time deciding if I should write this blog or not. I'm not a great writer and I'm not going to pretend to be. I need to share what I have learned and I might not make some people happy with what I am saying. This blog is a way for me to release the thoughts and feelings that come with knowing I grew up in the wrong religion. A healing process if you will.

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Please start with the month of February 2007 and read backwards. This is the most effective way to understand, in order, why I say what I do.

Handmaidens Creed

1.I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as one God without beginning or end.
2.I believe the Bible to be the Holy Inspired word of God with full truth and righteousness. No other writing is.
3.I believe that the work of the Lord comes first. Before any temporal thing or person.
4.I believe that grace is a gift and Christ gives that gift freely to all who believe.
5.I believe that the beauty of a woman is contained inside of her and not by what she looks like on the outside.
6.I believe that marriage is sacred and represents the Godhead on earth; two are one just as three are one.
7.I believe that love is more powerful than any other power. Remember, God is love.
8.I believe that tithing is not a part of God's new covenant, free will offerings are. And that doesn't mean just money.
9.I believe that the Aaronic, Levitical, and Melchizedek priesthoods are abolished and Christs Holy Priesthood whom Christ is the "Great High Priest" is eternal.
10.I believe that every believer is a priest in the "Priesthood of Believers".
11.I believe that when two are one, nobody is to separate the one.
12.I believe that Christ is the only way to heaven.
13.I believe that our bodies are temples, not man made buildings.
14.I believe that liars make fools out of others and the liar hates the fool.
15.I believe that all believers are in authority to preach the gospel.
16.I believe that the word 'organization' to describe Christs body is evil and has no place with God.
17.I believe the Americas are not the land of Zion and Christ will return to His origonal land-Israel in the Middle East.
18.I believe that God has set out correct ways of worshiping Him, not man.
19.I believe in holding to the truths of the Bible and not mans understanding of it.
20.I believe that the world is full of evil and Satan can easily gain control over the minds of those who do not profess Christ of the Bible to be their only Messiah.
21.I believe that Saints are those who know the real Savior, Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible speaks of; not the jesus of a cult.