In at least one big and bruising culture-war battle, the Mormon church wants to call a partial truce. Convening a rare press conference on Tuesday at church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Mormon leaders pledged to support anti-discrimination laws for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as long the laws also protect the rights of religious groups. In exchange, the Mormon church wants gay rights advocates — and the government — to back off. “When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment or made to suffer personal loss because they have raised their voice in the public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser,” said Elder Dallin Oaks, a member of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles. “Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender.”At today's press conference Oaks cited Houston's subpoenaing of pastors as a recent example of Christians being oppressed. In 2009 the Mormon Church backed an LGBT rights ordinance in Salt Lake City and while they say they still oppose same-sex marriage, today's announcement is meant to indicate support for similar legislation elsewhere. With one condition.
UPDATE: Openly gay Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis just sent us a statement.
"I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. As a religious institution, Mormons have had a long history of being the victims of discrimination and persecution. They understand more than most the value and strength of creating a civil society that judges people by the content of their character and their ability to do a job. Since serving as a Senator, and as the only LGBT member of the Utah legislature, I can say one of the joys of the job has been to meet and enjoy the company of LDS officials. I know that together, we can build a community that strongly protects religious organizations constitutional liberties and, in addition, creates a civil, respectful, nurturing culture where differences are honored and everyone feels welcome. Now, lets roll up our sleeves, get to work and pass a statewide Non-Discrimination Bill."Dabakis is the co-founder of Equality Utah. Hours after same-sex marriage became legal there in December 2013, he married his husband in a ceremony officiated by Salt Lake City's mayor.