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Mormon Church Blasts LGBTQ Equality Act, Won't Support It

LDS

Church officials expressed fear that they would have to hire openly LGBTQ people.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, condemned the pro-LGBTQ Equality Act and said it does not support it.

"The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all," reads the church's Monday statement. "While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom. It would instead repeal long-standing religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties. The Church joins other religious organizations that also strongly oppose the Equality Act as unbalanced, fundamentally unfair and a path to further conflict."

The Equality Act, due to be taken up by the full House this week, would amend current civil rights law to add protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service.

The Mormon Church's assertions about the Equality Act don't offer many specifics; religious institutions have long been buffered from federal requirements on accommodations, e.g., conservative Christian pastors are not forced to perform same-sex marriages. The proposed legislation does state the federal RFRA doesn't exempt people from abiding by the Equality Act, but religious institutions wouldn't be forced to rent facilities to others if they limit rentals to members of their faith. And nothing in the act would force churches or ministers to participate in ceremonies conflicting with their faith.

In its statement, the LDS Church expressed fear that the Equality Act would force the denomination to hire openly LGBTQ people and admit them to its seminaries and other institutions.

"We urgently need laws that protect the rights of individuals and faith communities to freely gather, speak out publicly, serve faithfully and live openly according to their religious beliefs without discrimination or retaliation, even when those beliefs may be unpopular. This includes the right of religious organizations and religious schools to establish faith-based employment and admissions standards and to preserve the religious nature of their activities and properties."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to take a one step forward, two steps back approach to LGBTQ rights. As its Monday statement pointed out, the church supported 2015 Utah legislation that banned LGBTQ housing and employment discrimination and provided very broad religious protections.

That same year, church officials declared that anyone in a same-sex marriage is an "apostate" and that their children could not be baptized or blessed until they turned 18 and disavowed marriage equality. Mormon officials overturned the policy this year.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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