Mormon LGBT rights support angers gays and conservatives

Religious Liberty
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 1/30/15, 02:30 pm

Mormon leaders announced support for laws designed to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination while also pressing the importance of religious liberty in a press conference Tuesday. 

Their position, which attempted to strike a balance between gay rights and religious freedom, elicited both support and criticism from every angle. 

Four leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including three elders from the governing Twelve Apostles, appeared at the rare press event. They expressed concern about “increasing tensions and polarization” between religious freedom advocates and advocates of gay rights, saying their position should “affirm rights for some without taking away the rights of others.” 

The announcement, calling for protection for gay and lesbian individuals against housing and employment discrimination, encouraged supporters of anti-discrimination measures that have stalled for years in Utah’s legislature. 

“What the LDS church did today was historic,” said Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis, who is openly gay and was raised Mormon. “This was a bold, strong, principled statement. … Today we are seeing the fruits of civility and respect.” 

But the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay advocacy group, called the church’s endorsement “deeply flawed.” HRC released a statement criticizing the Mormon position because it claims doctors, pharmacists, and business operators would still be allowed to refuse to serve LGBT individuals because of religious convictions. 

The Mormon leaders said clearly that church doctrine had not changed: sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is against the laws of God. Institutions and individuals should still be allowed to live according to that belief, they said. 

“When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment, or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause, or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks. “Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing, or public services because of race or gender.” 

But the elders also said God is loving and merciful, and their public support for LGBT rights affirms the fact that God’s “heart reaches out to all of His children equally and He expects us to treat each other with love and fairness,” said Sister Neill Marriott, a female leader in the Mormon church. 

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the Mormon position“well-intentioned, but naïve.” Moore said the announcement has garnered hostility from gay rights organizations and disappointment from social conservatives, as he expected: “I do not think, in most instances, sexual orientation ought to matter in housing or employment, but of course the proposals to address these concerns inevitably lead to targeted assaults on religious liberty.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 05:50 pm

    Something I always like to inject into this discussion is the fact that the Supreme Court has declared that it is wrong to define marriage at all.  If it is "mean spirited" to define it as between a man and a woman then why would it not be "mean spirited" to define it as only between two people if any size minority wanted it that way?   There can be no limits if we fail to place them where God and society have always placed them.  Society can create any moral guidelines they wish but they will not hold.  We are past that point.  

  • AKGramma51's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 05:50 pm

    The LDS church has a vested interest in the definition of long before they seek to exercise their religious right to practice polygamy openly again.  Once one ceases to define marriage as it was originally instituted by the Creator, the definition will continue to change and expand until the original design is lost in a vast array of relationships.  That array will not be limited to same sex or polygamous relationships.  That slippery slop includes some variations that have been conceived in very evil and perverted minds--how many generations before the definition of  "marriage" includes underage, vulnerable children or even pets.  Sadly, I think the uproar will be loudest concerning animals, not our precious children and grandchildren.

  • Sawgunner's picture
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 05:50 pm

    I dont know why we waste time describing someone as being "openly gay".  If the man is a closeted gay and you describe him as that you have immediately rendered him "open" about it. I guess you can be closeted only if you are described with anonymity.While we all rightly question the authenticity of LDS revelations we must concede that even a broken clock is right twice a day. The LDS (along with California muslim leaders)  were vocal donors supporters of the ill-starred Prop 8 marriage law in California. 

  • Narissara
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 05:50 pm

    When we lose sight of how a "right" is defined, it's impossible to affirm the rights of some without taking away the rights of others.  One person/group's self-proclaimed right created on the basis of moral relativism is inevitably going to collide with another's.  Without moral grounding, rights are determined by majority rule and subject to change.  The rights proclaimed in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence are built on a belief that there are moral absolutes.  The three rights specifically named are themselves foundational to all other rights.  They were articulated with the understanding that every person will eventually be called to give an account.  Did he (or she) respect life, at every stage?  Did he, in exercising his rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, make decisions that caused him to live a life of meaning and purpose, with a clear conscience toward his Creator?  Giving those rights priority would preclude the bully tactics of doing what you please and forcing everyone else to like it or love it through legislation and judicial activism.