Strange bedfellows. An odd couple. Unlikely allies.
Who would have predicted the Mormon Church and the Human Rights Campaign would ever stand on the same side -- of anything? But a Utah bill that would prohibit employment and housing discrimination against LGBT people has the backing of the church, which in turn has been lauded by the HRC.
"This is an extraordinary moment for the state of Utah, for LGBT Americans, and for the Mormon Church, which, by supporting this legislation, shows a willingness to align with others on the right side of history. The desire exhibited by the Mormon Church to work toward common ground should serve as a model for other faith traditions here in the United States," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement that notes that the bill currently in the hopper does not include religious exemptions for for-profit businesses (unlike a previous version, Towleroad points out).
Many members of the Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, oppose homosexual relationships and marriage equality. However, there are LGBT people and allies within the church who have a different view, and there is an organization called Affirmation for LGBT Mormons and their supporters.
Among LGBT activists, the church is infamous for its role in throwing support behind Proposition 8, the ballot measure that in 2008 eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. (That right was restored with a Supreme Court ruling in 2013.) The church, however, has supported LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination legislation in the past; its endorsement of such an ordinance in Salt Lake City in 2009 was key to the measure's approval by the City Council.
Utah is poised to become the 22nd state with sexual orientation protections and the 18th with gender identity protections if the bill passes, HRC says. The initial hearing on the measure takes place today.