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Mormon Church Supports Local Gay Rights Ordinance

The Mormon Church issued a statement yesterday supporting an anti-discrimination ordinance passed unanimously in Salt Lake City Tuesday. The ordinance is the first in Utah to ban employment and housing discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the New York Times reports.

In the statement, managing director of the Church of Latter Day Saints’ Public Affairs Michael Otterson said, “In drafting these ordinances, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations…The Church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage. They are also entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters. The Church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The Mormon Church’s support of the ordinance came as a surprise to many gay-rights activists, due to its role in the Yes on proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage in California. The New York Times reported that according to some estimates, the Church raised over $20 million to support proposition 8.

Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Director, Harry Knox, responded to the church’s position in a statement, where he said, “This has happened in the LDS Church because people are telling their clergy leaders they believe the church should be about lifting people up, not pushing them down…We hope the LDS church will commit the same level of resources to ensuring full employment protection to everyone as it did to deny marriage equality to loving, same-sex couples in California.”

Sources:

New York Times 11/11/09, 11/13/08; Statement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 11/10/09; Human Rights Campaign Statement 11/11/09