Mormon leadership comes out in support of (some) basic rights for (some) LGBT Utahns

Video from the public hearing, featuring Michael Otterson, Eric Ethington (local blogger/activist and genuinely nice guy), Deeda Seed, and Jonas from the all-Brazilian America Forever bigot brigade:

Text of LDS statement after the break.

Transcript of remarks by the managing director of LDS Public Affairs, who spoke at the hearing in support of Salt Lake City’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance:

“Good evening.

“My name is Michael Otterson, and I am here tonight officially representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The non-discrimination ordinance being reviewed by the City Council concerns important questions for the thoughtful people of this community.

“Like most of America, our community in Salt Lake City is comprised of citizens of different faiths and values, different races and cultures, different political views and divergent demographics. Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions. People often feel strongly about such issues. Sometimes they feel so strongly that the ways in which they relate to one another seem to strain the fabric of our society, especially where the interests of one group seem to collide with the interests of another.

“The issue before you tonight is the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinance also attempts to balance vital issues of religious freedom. In essence, the Church agrees with the approach which Mayor Becker is taking on this matter.

“In drafting this ordinance, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations, for example, in their hiring of people whose lives are in harmony with their tenets, or when providing housing for their university students and others that preserve religious requirements.

“The Church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage. It is also entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters. The Church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.

“I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree in fact, especially when we disagree. The Church’s past statements are on the public record for all to see. In these comments and in our actions, we try to follow what Jesus Christ taught. Our language will always be respectful and acknowledge those who differ, but will also be clear on matters that we feel are of great consequence to our society.

“Thank you.”


AP: Mormon church backs anti-discrimination proposals

Salt Lake Tribune: Pro-gay statutes win city, LDS nod

On Top Magazine: Mormon Church Makes An About Face On Gay Rights

Voice Of Deseret: LDS Church Expresses Official Support For Salt Lake City’s Proposed Gay Nondiscrimination Ordinances … Paul Mero’s head explodes.

A Soft Answer: Mormon Church Issues Statement in Support of Gay-rights Ordinances

Moms for Equality: Big News Coming from the Mormons!

Press Releases:


Gay Mormons Applaud LDS Church Action

Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons applauds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for endorsing the employment and housing non-discrimination act now before the Salt Lake City (Utah) Council.

Discrimination based on a persons identity, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, has always been wrong. It is commendable that the LDS Church is taking a step toward living up to its own teachings of valuing of all humanity. It is a vital first step.

We pray that the words spoken tonight are to be followed up with positive action, said Affirmation Assistant Executive Director Micah Bisson. It is time to eliminate the heavy-handed church actions to defeat marriage equality and protections for transgender people. When LDS officials arrest gay people for public affection on Temple Square, we need to realize that all Mormons, and the LDS church itself, look small-minded to people who are outside the tradition.

The LDS Church, as is the case with any faith organization, has the absolute right to choose whatever standards it wishes for membership, and to choose what marriage ordinances it wishes to perform or to recognize, stated Assistant Executive Director George Cole. It does not have the right to impose its unique standards upon those of other faiths.

Too many millions of dollars have been spent; the Church has been the punch-line of too many jokes, added Executive Director David Melson. This is an opportunity for the Church to take a position of leadership, to declare an end to the hostilities that have divided our country and our families, to welcome all of Gods children into the Church of Jesus Christ.

We are grateful for this first step, we await the second.





On November 10, 2009 several highly placed people featured in the upcoming documentary film 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION were contacted by well-placed people inside the Mormon Church in anticipation of an “historic statement against discrimination” to be made by the Mormon Church.

They were told, “Watch what we are about to do. You will be pleased.”

At this hour gays and lesbians all over the world hope that the Mormon Church’s announcement will not be yet another Mormon public relations smoke screen and result in action that will result in full marriage equality for the LGBT community world-wide.

Since the release of the trailer for 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION, intense scrutiny has been focused on Mormon involvement in the passage of Proposition 8 and allegations that the Mormon Church set up the infamous NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE which was the key player in Maine’s recent ban on gay marriage.

Sources close to those who called our cast and production team alerting us to the upcoming Mormon statement on discrimination say that Mormon Mitt Romney has recently put pressure on his own church to extend an olive branch to the gay community to try and deflate the anticipated negative press that will come from the release of 8: THE MORMON PROPOSITION that would likely damage his hope for a successful 2012 presidential bid.

Ironically (and we suspect in step with the Mormon’s anticipated statement on discrimination) Mormon-owned KSL TV released an article on their web site saying “Romney appears to be front-runner in 2012 election.”

While the 8:TMP team hopes Mormons end their game of discrimination against the LGBT community and wishes to work with people of all faith traditions to end discrimination, we would like to assert the following:

FACT: Under similar international scrutiny, Mormon leaders have in the past made similar statements regarding being against discrimination directed towards minorities & the LGBT COMMUNITY.

FACT: Gay leaders in SLC begged Mormon leaders to back up their statements on ending discrimination against the LGBT commmunity, through Mormon support for their COMMON GROUND INITIATIVE.

FACT: Despite lip service, Mormons did not get behind the COMMON GROUND INITIATIVE and in fact worked to see the initiative’s defeat.

FACT: Despite lip service to people of color, the holiest book of Mormon scripture THE BOOK OF MORMON still refers to people of color as being “CURSED WITH A DARK SKIN, FILTHY AND LOATHSOME.”

FACT: Despite lip service to people of color, printings of MORMON DOCTRINE by beloved Mormon Apostle Bruce R. Mcconkie, assert African Americans are “marked” for not being fully behind the plan of Jesus Christ in a pre-earth life war in Heaven.

FACT: A Mormon spokesperson told 8:TMP’s director “this is all about public relations and making the church look good.”

In conclusion, as Mormon heavy-hitters prepare for the so-called “historic announcement” our team would encourage Mormons to put their money and their membership by doing the following:

1. Severing all Mormon ties to the NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE, which works to rob the LGBT COMMUNITY of their civil rights.

2. Directing an amount of money equal to Mormon money spent in California’s Prop. 8 campaign to LGBT marriage equality.

3. Removing from all Mormon canonized scripture any reference to people of color as being “cursed or marked with a dark skin” or being “filthy and loathsome.”

4. Ask Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks to retract his recent teachings on LGBT “alleged civil rights” and affirm that LGBT rights are not “alleged” but deserved and long overdue.

Our production team and cast await the day when Mormons will work with the LGBT community not only with their words, but their money and their members to achieve FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY. This is the only way to truly advocate for the end of discrimination against ALL PEOPLE.

Anything else is lip-service.



LDS Church Endorses protections for LGBT individuals in Housing and Employment

The Foundation for Reconciliation / is thrilled that the LDS Church was able to find common ground with the LGBT community by officially endorsing a Salt Lake City non-discrimination ordinance today that includes basic protections in housing and employment for LGBT individuals. Peter Danzig, the Foundations communications director stated this grew out of conversations the LDS Church recently began with leaders in the LGBT community. This demonstrates the power that just beginning to talk with each other can have. We have a lot of common ground.

We hope this is just the first of many more such opportunities stated the Foundations director, Cheryl Nunn. Just 6 days prior to their announcement today we met with a Church representative following our handcart trek and presented him with our Plea for Reconciliation Petition. This is precisely the type of action we were advocating for.”

Janeen Thompson, a member of the Foundations executive committee said, This is precisely the type of dialogue and action I was hoping for from my Church. I feel like this is a big step in the right direction.

The Foundation has written to Church officials requesting just such a private dialogue to discuss their concerns, stated Nunn. This gives me hope that such conversations can and do happen.

The Foundation for Reconciliation is an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for reconciliation between the LDS and LGBT community. More information is available at



If you’re having a hard time reading the above ‘toon, click on the graphic for larger version.

That second ‘toon cracks me up every time. “Better than Ted.” Guffaw. That Mitt, what a comedian.

Chino Blanco

--- We are men of action, lies do not become us. ---

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14 Responses

  1. chanson says:

    After complaining about some imaginary discrimination against Mormons, it dawned on the leadership (of the CoJCoL-dS) that it looks bad when they support job and housing discrimination against others. It’s nice to see that they’re capable of learning from major PR fiascoes.

    OTOH, a proposal goes from controversial to unanimous as soon as the CoJCoL-dS picks a position on it? Who elected these people?

  2. Ulysseus says:

    Some subversive thoughts.

    Given that the Mormon Church (and Catholic and other Churches) are very concerned about how they appear and political power, especially after all the bad press on fighting gay marriage.

    Given that the Constitution requires separation of church and state.

    Given that marriage between a man and woman is considered a bedrock, dare I say cornerstone, for the religion.

    The subversive and potentially most effective solution is obvious. Take the government out of the marriage game, let the religions squabble over it all they want, but don’t let the government license or sanction it. Everybody has a civil union if they want to partner up, but no one is recognized as married by the State. I have to give credit to Cass Sunstein for the idea, but it is a great one.

    Especially after the Church has just come out with a statement supporting equality — we need an ordinance or statute now for equality of inheritance rights, child custodial arrangements, tax benefits, etc.

  3. Andrew S says:

    I don’t want to be cynical about things…but isn’t it interesting that as soon as the LDS church speaks up about something, it passes unanimously?

    I guess this is just SLC though, vs. the entire state. But I’m wondering what one word from the church could’ve done on the state level with the Common Ground Initiative. For a state that isn’t a theocracy, I just find it interesting…

    The second thing that I’m cynical about is…this bill is a concession…yes…but a careful one. How far does the church mean to go. The interesting thing to ask is if they would ever go as far as to support civil unions and domestic partnerships in Utah…or if that’s too close to damaging their position on marriage?

    I guess I shouldn’t be so cynical at this time. However, I don’t want this to just be some kind of appeasement that quiets everyone down.

  4. kuri says:

    “…the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone…”

    No shit, Sherlock.

  5. profxm says:

    I call this a leaf from an olive branch of peace with the LGBTQ community (carefully veiled in threats that same-sex marriage will “never” pass in Utah). It’s more than nothing, but not much more than nothing. Even so, kudos to LDS Inc. for doing more than nothing to reach out to LGBTQs! 😉

  6. kuri says:

    I guess this is progress, but the (self-)congratulatory tone of the whole thing really, really reminds me of this bit by Chris Rock (pardon the language):

    You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do. A nigga’ll brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga’ll say some shit like ‘I take care of my kids.’ You supposed to you dumb muthafucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that! ‘I ain’t never been to jail!’ What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail you low expectation-having motherfucker!

    “We’re against job and housing discrimination against gay people.”

    “What do you want, a cookie? You’re SUPPOSED to be against it!” It’s 2009. Other cities passed ordinances like that 10, 20, even 30 years ago.

  7. Chino Blanco says:

    Here is why I’m happy with the statement of support from the LDS church …

    Because it results in competing statements like this:

    Statement: Sutherland Institute Opposes SLC Ordinances on Anti-Discrimination,0,7852153.story

    Check out the first comment left in response to Sutherland’s statement:

    I am not sure what the Sutherland group thinks they are doing, but the Brethren have spoken. No more needs to be said.

    Folks like Sutherland’s Paul Mero have built careers peddling the notion that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are figments of disordered minds. With the LDS church now suddenly supporting ordinances that include this “make-believe” terminology, it’s obvious that the LDS church has come down squarely on the side of treating LGBT folks as if they actually do exist.

    My latest YouTube:

    Sutherland Institute: Allowing SLC’s so-called ‘homosexuals’ to work and find housing = gay marriage

    The Sutherland Institute are the biggest bunch of WATBs in Utah, and now they’re on their own.

  8. chanson says:

    Chino — That’s an excellent point, and is definitely cause for some good cheer.

  9. LdChino says:

    I’ve pulled it all together and added a damning video of Paul in action to create this new Daily Kos diary:

    Pls welcome to check it out!

  10. Craig says:

    It’s very, very, very likely it would have passed even if the church had strongly opposed it. Where the church’s endorsement might be helpful is if/when the state legislature takes up the issue.

    And if one reads the church’s full statement, they again make it clear that they still think gays are second class citizens and that they won’t hesitate to smack us down if we try to get all uppity.

    The Church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage. They are also entirely consistent with the Churchs prior position on these matters. The Church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.

    They think they’re being kind and generous in “letting” us have a few small rights in liberal downtown SLC. The condescension is simply overwhelming.

  11. chanson says:

    Regarding that quote (pulled by Craig #11):

    It’s really disturbing how desperate they are to pin the accusation of “violence” onto their opponents — just as Oaks did in his talk.

    It looks like they wish that there’d been some actual violence against Mormons so they could dismiss their opponents as villains.

    Also (as I said here), one could argue that by pinning that accusation on his opponents, hes setting up a justification for violence against his opponents. I dismissed this possibility at the time, but if this fantasy that the “defenders of marriage” are somehow the victims of “violence” becomes a pattern and a fixation, I’m no longer so sure. After all, the rhetoric about abortion-providers being “murderers” has led to abortion-providers getting murdered for real.

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  1. November 11, 2009

    […] destructiveness of gay marriage November 11, 2009 — Andrew In response to the LDS church’s seemingly monumental support of certain gay rights (“common sense” anti-discrimination measures — they haven’t said anything […]

  2. November 15, 2009

    […] an unrelated note, Outer Blogness is ringing with follow-up commentary about the SLC anti-discrimination law: Holly Noelle says “Well, Duh” and goes back to debating gay marriage. Daniel Midgely […]

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