The Salt Lake City Council has passed a non-discrimination ordinance making it illegal to fire or evict somebody because of their sexual orientation. The measure was approved unanimously, and even had the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
The LDS issued a statement backing the ordinance, saying they were against discrimination against anyone, but that they supported traditional marriage. Church spokesman Michael Otterson said, "The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage."
Reaction to the decree was swift from conservative groups such as the Sutherland Institute, an independent, conservative public policy organization based in Salt Lake City. Stan Rasmussen, public affairs manager with the Institute, says the Mormon Church's support of the ordinance is problematic. "We do not support, abide, encourage or tolerate discrimination that is inappropriate. We think there are ways, [in fact] we know there are ways to address those concerns [which] do not include the incorporating of these phrases into city ordinances," Rasmussen argues. "An example would be a hate crimes bill several years ago which conservatives and liberals collaborated to craft. [It] addressed all concerns without including that vague language of 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity.'" The Sutherland Institute will encourage state lawmakers to pass laws which seek to reverse Salt Lake City's new ordinances.
Tuesday's passage made Salt Lake City the first Utah community to prohibit bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Exceptions in the legislation allow churches to maintain, without penalty, religious principles and religion-based codes of conduct or rules. Homosexuals are welcome in the Mormon Church, but must remain celibate to retain church callings and full membership.
[by Allie Martin - OneNewsNow]