Can Common Ground Remain Sacred Ground?
Finding the Difficult Common Groun: the LDS Church offers Statement on Gay Rights
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka: the Mormons or LDS Church) recently held a press conference, paneled by Elder Dallan H. Oaks, Jeffery R. Holland, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Latter-day saint Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Neill Marriott of the LDS Church’s Young Women’s program; to discuss a political and religious hot-button debate of legislation bills that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The representatives of the LDS church support bills that protect LGBT individuals in various life areas such as housing or employment; however, the leaders expressed so long as this legislation and open dialogue didn’t interfere with other religious freedoms (Boorstein and Ohlheiser).
Despite the LDS church making this announcement, there were several organizations that found the statements were not helpful enough, didn’t say enough, or satisfy their particular satisfaction. In fact, many organizations such as the ACLU, the Utah Eagle Forum, and the Human Rights Campaign did feel it went far enough. The HRC stated, the statement was “deeply flawed” (Winslow and Edwards). And the ACLU added, “The ACLU of Utah does express some concern over the limited scope of public accommodation protection supported by the LDS Church, namely only restaurants, hotels and transportation. Equality means that gay and transgender people should have full protection in public accommodations on par with race, gender, religion and other categories” (Winslow and Edwards). 
Additionally, Gayle Ruzicka, the president from Utah’s Eagle Forum, mentioned that the wording of anti-discrimination bills are not written well enough to be clear to offer accurate leadership, guidance, or interpretation. She said, “They’ve got to come up with the right language that does not violate other people’s rights [and] it’ can’t be the language they’re using right now” (Winslow and Edwards). Therefore, it is the opinion of some that the wording be clearly laid out to understand; however, being mindful of any articulation could be easily misinterpreted.
Elder Oaks of the LDS Church remarked, “those who seek the protection of religious conscience and expression and for the use of their religion look with alarm at the steady erosion of treasured freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution” (Mormon Leaders). Additionally, Elder Holland of the LDS Church firmly added, “Nothing is achieved if either side resorts to bullying, political-point scoring or accusations of bigotry. These are serious issues, and they require serious minds engaged in thoughtful, courteous discourse” (Mormon Leaders).
Because of the recent statement, several governmental employees spoke and offered their opinions. Both Utah state Governor Gary Herbert and Senator Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) offered their thoughts of the church’s statement. Governor Herbert remarked, that this statement was an “important step to help us find common ground on these important issues” (Winslow and Edwards). And Senator Urquhart, who is supporting the LGBT non-discrimination bill again this year said, “a major stake holder just jumped into this debate today” (Windslow and Edwards). Although both had differing opinions, both felt, that law makers and community’s could come together to reach a compromise to safeguard rights and freedoms.
Despite the lack of support from some pro-gay allies, several other persons supported the bill such as Senator Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake), who is openly gay, and he remarked, “I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination” (Winslow and Edwards).
The church maintains that there current doctrinal stance that marriage is between one man and one woman and sex outside of marriage is still against current practice and theology, and could result in church discipline.
Law makers and pro-gay organizations seemed to be committed to dialogue, but the support for this statement was limited; however, it is clear that the Mormon church is at least opening the dialogue with the LGBT population, and according to Jim Dabakis, a gay married Utah state senator, remarked that breaking down the blocks of communication with the Mormon church “was one of the greatest experiences” (Boorstein and Ohlheiser) of his life.
America has had a long history of freedom of religion, not necessarily freedom from religion and this element has caused different debates throughout America’s history; nevertheless, our country is based on a climate of freedom of religion, and equality for all, not just a select few; and one of the modern pro-rights movements has been the rights of LGBT individuals. Even though there can be civil discourse and compromise, which both sides should adhere to, the consequence of freedom on this issue is we as a nation have to tolerate persons of faith, and there seems to be a vocal voice that is speaking louder then the latter. It is the author’s opinion that the debate and issue is far from over, and that the christian views and theology will oppose the LGBT views, thus having more interaction and discussion, both positive and negative; more over, the coming future will be interesting to see unfold, and view how both sides respond and resolve or if one side has a recalcitrant attitude.
Boorsten, Michelle and Ohlheiser, Abby. “Mormon Church Announces Support for Legal Protections for Gay People” Washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2015
“Mormon Leaders Call for Laws That Protect Religious Freedom.” Mormonnewsroom.org. Mormon Newsroom. 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.
Winslow, Ben and Edwards, Ashton. “LDS Church Backs LGBT Non-discrimination and Religious Freedom Bills.” Fox13now.com. Fox News. 27 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.
Jody Crown is a Social Work major who, when not following Regangirl or The Druge Rpeort, is actively song writing for his first heavy metal album to be released sometime in 2015. Much like his colleague Reagangirl, he also likes cats and supports the movement against the fundamental transformation of America into a Socialist hell hole. Jody is a Christian Conservative living in modern-day Babylon.
Reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com 2/13/15
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Reagangirl.com.