November 12, 2009
Mormon Support of Gay Rights Statute Draws Praise
By KIRK JOHNSON
The Mormon church has been a target of vituperation by some gay-rights groups because of its active opposition to same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, the church was being praised by gay rights activists in Salt Lake City, citadel of the Mormon world, for its open support of a local ordinance banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians in housing and employment.
The ordinance, which passed unanimously Tuesday night, made Salt Lake the first city in Utah to offer such protections. While the measure probably had majority backing on the seven-member City Council anyway, the church’s support was seen by gay activists as a thunderclap that would resonate across the state and in the overwhelmingly Mormon legislature, where even subtle shifts in church positions on social issues can swing votes and sentiments.
In its statement backing the ordinance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that while it remained “unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman,” the question of how people were treated on the job and in finding places to live were matters of fairness that did not have anything to do with marriage.
One might wonder if discriminating against gay marriage is also an issue of fairness, but supporting anti-discrimination in these more basic elements (having a job and a place to live) is a place to start.