Mormons to Gays: We Got Your Back
Before Pope Frank took a misstep in siding with the Charlie Hebdo murderers, he set the Catholic Church on the right side of history by explaining that every human is a child of God, regardless of their sexual orientation and identity. Aboard his chartered Alitalia flight home after his whirlwind tour through Brazil, Pope Francis explained, “Who am I to judge them if they are seeking the Lord in good faith?” Those 15 words sent the more conservative Catholics into apoplexy. Fox Entertainment commentators started calling the Pope’s reasoning and infallibility into question. Certainly among the many other conservative religious viewers, they could take a stand against the longest standing brand of Christianity without taking a hit in their ratings.
Fox Entertainment and others of their ilk received one helluva shock today, then, when the Mormon Church held a press conference supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community, especially where it pertains to discrimination in the workplace and in obtaining and keeping housing. Today’s LDS announcement was made with regard to an anti-discrimination bill that is wending its way through the Utah legislature, and is a complete about-face for the church that was instrumental in the funding and passage of California’s horrendous Prop 8 Initiative.
“In the five years since the LDS church sent busloads of the faithful to California to canvass neighborhoods, and contributed more than $20 million via its members to support the initiative, it has all but dropped the rope in the public policy tug of war over marriage equality. The change stems from an even more remarkable if somewhat invisible transformation happening within the church, prompted by the ugly fight over Prop. 8 and the ensuing backlash from the flock.
Although the LDS’s prophet hasn’t described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization.”
Though to many this appears a baby step in the right direction, the monumental nature of this change in position cannot be overstated. Following in the footsteps of the head of the Catholic Church, the Mormons declared they are ready to no longer cast out individuals as social pariahs simply based on who it is they are engineered to love.
“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 protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment, and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants, and transportation,” Elder Dallin Oaks, a top official of the church, said. “[These] protections are not available in many parts of the country. We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values.”
Elder Dallin Oaks points out a painful truth for too many LGBTQ individuals in this nation. Unless their rights are expressly protected in legislation at the city and state levels, they are subject to the whim of employers and landlords own belief systems and can be terminated or evicted for no other reason than for being themselves. It is only through measures like the bill going before the Utah legislature that protections and legal recourse can be established.
The Mormon Church, it is important to note, did not reverse their position on same-sex marriage. That fight will continue on until this summer when the Supreme Court decides once and for all whether or not all governments and jurisdictions must recognize the dignity of every U.S. citizen and afford them the rights and protections provided by state sanctioned marriage. Until that battle is won, we should welcome the Mormon Church openly and sincerely as the newest ally for the LGBTQ community.
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