Mormon church pushes for LGBT anti-discrimination laws and religious freedoms in 'balanced' approach

by Staff, |
The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY (Christian Examiner) -- The Mormon church altered their stance on gay rights Tuesday to take a more moderate position with gay rights advocates, according to reports. The LDS leadership called for anti-discrimination laws for LGBT persons to be balanced with religious freedoms.

"When religious people are publicly intimidated, 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," Elder Dallin Oaks said during a press conference at the church's headquarters in Salt Lake City.

"Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender," he added.

The church elder cited instances like the mayor of Houston subpoenaing sermon notes from pastors who agree with traditional marriage and Mozilla CEO Brendon Eich, who was forced to resign after same-sex marriage advocates called attention to a donation he made in support of Proposition 8 six years prior, CNN reported.

Other examples include the temporary suspension of reality show "Duck Dynasty" for their patriarch Phil Robertson quoting the Bible in reference to homosexuality, or the Atlanta fire chief who wrote a Bible-based book about morality and was fired, despite being cleared in an investigation.

"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 said.

The Mormon church stated that they have not changed their position on marriage -- it is designed by God as between one man and one woman -- but that they are suggesting a way to find solutions.

The move was lauded by Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis, who is openly gay, as well as U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and LGBT advocacy group Equality Utah.

However, some decried the proposal, saying it would essentially allow anyone to continue to discriminate against homosexuals as long as they cited a religious reason. American Civil Liberties Union LGBT and AIDS Project director James Esseks told The LA Times that it "would allow a doctor to refuse to care for a lesbian because of his religious beliefs."

Lorri Jean of the Los Angeles LGBT Center said the Mormon church was simply trying to push religious exemptions so "they and others can continue to discriminate against LGBT people."

Even among those who support traditional marriage there isn't complete consensus. Russell Moore, leader of the Southern Baptist convention, said the Mormon church's new approach is "well-intentioned, but naive," as tying LGBT rights and religious freedoms together will eventually lead to erosion of the latter.