A “rare” press conference was offered today by the leaders of the Mormon church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. CNN reports,
Mormon leaders pledged to support anti-discrimination laws for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as long the laws also protect the rights of religious groups.
In exchange, the Mormon church wants gay rights advocates — and the government — to back off.
The Daily Beast characterizes the church’s press release as “a landmark move… changing its posture towards gays.”
The church has decided to support anti-discrimination legislation for gays and lesbians in the realm of housing and employment. The church also announced that it it comes with the condition that no one can be forced to perform actions if he or she has religious objections. One example, a doctor who refuses to artificially inseminate a lesbian couple. Utah is facing two bills that protections for each group. Political watchers in the state have noted that both measures would be likely to pass if the LDS Church got behind it.
On its own website, the church reports that,
Elder Oaks said: “Because we are frequently asked for our position on these matters, the Church asserts the following principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and on fairness for all, including people of faith:
- We claim for everyone the God-given and Constitutional right to live their faith according to the dictates of their own conscience, without harming the health or safety of others.
- We acknowledge that the same freedom of conscience must apply to men and women everywhere to follow the religious faith of their choice, or none at all if they so choose.
- We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values.
- We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation.”
Church leaders said that both sides of the debate over religious freedom and nondiscrimination should treat each other with respect.
Leaders also confirmed that church policy on marriage equality has in no way changed.
Sister Marriott said during the press conference that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that sexual relations other than between a man and a woman who are married are contrary to the laws of God. “This commandment and doctrine comes from sacred scripture and we are not at liberty to change it,” she said. “But, God is loving and merciful. His heart reaches out to all of His children equally and He expects us to treat each other with love and fairness.”
CNN reports that after the press conference,
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and a Mormon, said he will work to “ensure that legislation designed to promote greater equality includes robust religious exemptions and nonretaliation provisions.”
Posted by Rosalind Hughes