Thursday, January 29, 2015

QUEER QUOTE: Mormon Church Expresses Grudging Support For LGBT Non-Discrimination

Today's Queer Quote comes from an unlikely source, Elder Dallin Oaks of the Mormon Church, discussing the Church of Latter-Day Saints new position in support of LGBT non-discrimination, with the HUGE caveat that it allow exemptions for "religious beliefs." I have previously blogged about several Utah politicians' willful ignorance of civil rights law (namely Gov. Gary Hebert and Dallin Oaks himself) and this latest move by the Church reflects this misapprehension.
"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."
However, what this means in practice does not sound or look like what most LGBT people would call civil rights protections. Instead, what it looks like to Andrew Rosenthal at The New York Times is that the Mormon Church wants "The Freedom To Discriminate."
“Mormon leaders still want to hire and fire workers based not only on religious beliefs, but also on behavior standards known as honor codes that require gays and lesbians to remain celibate or marry someone of the opposite sex. The church also wants legal protections for religious objectors who work in government and health care, such as a physician who refuses to perform an abortion, or provide artificial insemination for a lesbian couple.”
As the Human Rights Campaign points out, this position is not faithful to the principles of equal rights for all.
“We share the church’s commitment to freedom of religion. We embrace the principles of the First Amendment and believe churches do and should have the right to make determinations about who fills their pews. But non-discrimination protections only function when they are applied equally. It should be stated that there are countless LGBT Mormons, and Mormon allies, who support equality, not in spite of their faith but because of it. All Americans should have the right to be employed, receive housing and services in environments free of discrimination. We await the day the church embraces that fully, without any exceptions or exemptions."
It shall be interesting to see how this develops...

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