SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Officials with the Latter Day Saints called for the passage of anti-discrimination laws to protect homosexuals and transgenders on Tuesday, stating that they support such measures as along as religious freedom is also protected.
The press conference featured statements from Jeffrey R. Holland, Dallin H. Oaks and D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, as well as Neill Marriott, the second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
“The [homosexual rights] movement arose after centuries of ridicule, persecution, and even violence against homosexuals,” Marriott said. “Ultimately, most of society recognized that such treatment was simply wrong, and that such basic human rights, such as securing a job, or a place to live, should not depend on a person’s sexual orientation.”
She said that while the Latter Day Saints had not changed its position on homosexual behavior being sinful, the establishment also believes that God’s “heart reaches out to all his children equally, and He expects us to treat one another with love and fairness.”
“We call on local, state and the federal government to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation—protections which are not available in many parts of the country,” Oaks declared.
But the Mormon leaders said that if homosexuals are granted these protections, people of faith ought not to be deprived of the same for disagreeing with the lifestyle.
“[L]aws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people, while respecting those with differing values,” Oaks stated.
He provided recent examples of what he believes is discrimination and bigotry against religion.
“It is one of today’s great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals,” Oaks remarked.
“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,” he stated. “Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”
As previously reported, in 2013, the leadership of the Latter Day Saints also expressed approval of a policy change within the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that would permit openly homosexual boys to serve in the organization.
“While the Church has not launched any campaign either to effect or prevent a policy change we have followed the discussion and are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today,’” it remarked, noting that the establishment has had a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America for 100 years.
Some Mormons have also marched in the annual homosexual pride parade in Salt Lake City, such as the group Mormons Building Bridges.