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Mormon Church Supports Salt Lake City's Protection for Gays

Scott Taylor and Aaron Falk | Deseret News via YellowBrix

November 11, 2009

Salt Lake City has become the first Utah city to offer housing and employment protections for gays and lesbians — an action supported by the Mormon Church.

The City Council, in a unanimous vote Tuesday, passed a pair of nondiscrimination ordinances that would bar landlords and employers from discriminating based on sexuality — a protection not currently afforded under state or federal laws.

In a rare public appearance before local lawmakers, a representative from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints read a supporting statement at a public hearing before the Salt Lake City Council regarding the ordinances proposed by Mayor Ralph Becker.

“The church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage,” said Michael Otterson, managing director of the LDS Church’s public affairs office.

Otterson added that the statement of support is consistent with the church’s prior position on such matters, as well as its stance on marriage. Both are found in the church’s August 2008 statement titled “The Divine Institution of Marriage,”

That statement, released prior to California’s Proposition 8 vote last year on a constitutional amendment defining marriage, says the LDS Church “does not object to rights regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.”

And in his comments Tuesday night, Otterson underscored the LDS Church’s position on marriage.

“The church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman,” he said.

In addition to agreeing with Becker’s approach to the ordinances, the church also recognizes the proposal attempts to balance vital issues of religious freedom, Otterson said.

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