Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mormons "not anti-gay"? Tell them to prove it.

When leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) took a prominent role in ending marriage equality in California, I felt compelled to act.

As a gay resident of Utah who grew up in a conservative Mormon family, I have seen the LDS Church divide the community and even families every day. I became active in and donated a million dollars to the "No on 8" campaign to help spread the truth in the face of a deceptive campaign funded largely by members of the LDS Church.

I'm writing you today because LDS (Mormon) leaders have been trying to deflect criticism by insisting that they're not "anti-gay" or opposed to civil unions, domestic partnerships and other LGBT rights – just marriage equality.

Join HRC and Equality Utah in taking them at their word – and giving them a chance to prove it.

HRC has sent an open letter to President Thomas Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asking him to sign on to Equality Utah's "Common Ground Initiative". They have yet to respond.

If Mormon leaders really aren't "anti-gay," then they should have no problem publicly signing on to these five bills, which include:

  • Providing domestic partnership rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples;
  • Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Utah's anti-discrimination laws for employment, housing, and health care;
  • Giving domestic partners of public employees insurance and retirement benefits;
  • Giving domestic partners access to the courts if their loved one is killed because of negligence or malpractice; and
  • Repealing the second clause of Utah's Anti-Marriage Amendment which is used to prevent gay and lesbian couples from receiving any kind of relationship recognition in the state.

Clearly, these are measures that the LDS Church should support, since they've said they're not opposed to LGBT relationship recognition, health care, housing, or employment rights. And the Church has no reason to be shy about entering the political arena – it did so loudly and boldly in California, raising more than half of the $40 million that funded the campaign to pass Proposition 8.

Given the dishonest and dehumanizing nature of that campaign, it's understandable that the dialogue around the Church's role has been heated. There is a way to move beyond this anger, but it is not the burden of the LGBT community and straight allies to stop their rightful protests. It is the burden of the LDS Church to support legislation that impacts LGBT lives in Utah as well as other states positively.

Our movement has a long history of respectfully engaging with those who would deny our basic humanity and civil rights. Let's hope the Church's claims are more than just a political posture.


Bruce Bastian
HRC Board of Directors

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