Magazine article The Christian Century

Mormons Back Housing, Job Rights for Salt Lake Gays

Magazine article The Christian Century

Mormons Back Housing, Job Rights for Salt Lake Gays

Article excerpt

With the passage in November of nondiscrimination laws in Salt Lake City that expand gay rights, Mormon officials and gay activists have found a patch of common ground in Utah's capital.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints and gay organizations both advocated for the laws that prevent discrimination in housing and employment. That shows there are some issues on which conservative religious groups and gay rights supporters can agree, said Will Carlson, director of public policy at Equality Utah, a gay rights organization.

"I think there's this myth of God versus gay," he said. "This week helps to dispel that myth, at least at some level."

Michael Otterson, a spokesman for the Latter-day Saints, appeared among dozens of speakers November 10 before the Salt Lake City Council, saying the ordinances are "fair and reasonable" and do not harm heterosexual marriage.

"The city has granted commonsense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations," Otterson told the council.

Carlson said it was "really inspiring" to hear Otterson's comments. "Especially in Utah, a lot of LGBT people were raised LDS," he said. "It was very cathartic to hear the LDS church say that they agree that people shouldn't be fired for being gay or transgender."

After the passage of California's Proposition 8, an initiative that banned gay marriage and received significant financial support from Mormons, Equality Utah had sought LDS church officials' support for other gay rights initiatives, including probate, insurance and health matters. …

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