I’ve been thinking back over the many debates that took place here at OneUtah and elsewhere during the fight over California’s Prop 8. An argument I heard over and over from church members supporting Prop 8 was that legal precedents that applied in racial, sex, and religious discrimination cases did not apply for gays, and that gays could not be recognized as a protected class or group. I didn’t follow that arbitrary and twisted logic then and I don’t follow it now.
Today I reread the church’s statement to the Salt Lake City Council, there is no doubt in my mind that the church recognizes those with same-sex attraction as a distinct identifiable group entitled to the same legal protections the rest of society enjoys with regard to housing and employment. And the church specifically names this group rather than using a broad generic “all residents of the city” or something similar that would have been more palatable to the anti-gay crowd.
On the church’s own web site, the headline is “Church Supports Nondiscrimination Ordinances”.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared its support of nondiscrimination regulations that would extend protection in matters of housing and employment in Salt Lake City to those with same-sex attraction. [snip]
The Church said that while protections in housing and employment were fair and reasonable, the Church also remains “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.” Otterson also pointed out that this position was “entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters.”
Otterson added, “I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree — in fact, especially when we disagree.”
I think this is the biggest and most important change in this milestone announcement—that the church does recognize gays as an identifiable group in need of special legal protections. Even though the church stopped short of supporting full and equal rights for gays, this step is extremely important and paves the way for setting of new legal precedents that may eventually break down all barriers to full and equal rights under the law—including marriage.