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LDS Church Calls For Anti-Discrimination Bills And Religious Freedom

Marriott sister anti-discrimination
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, discusses traditional marriage during a news conference on religious freedom and nondiscrimination.

Officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have announced the church’s support for legal measures protecting certain rights of LGBT individuals.

In a rare press conference on Tuesday morning, LDS church leaders—including three of the church’s twelve apostles—presented their position as a balance between religious liberty and LGBT rights.

Neill Marriott of the LDS church’s Public Affairs Committee was first to speak. Marriott is one of the leaders of the young women's organization in the church.

"On one side of the debate, we have advocates of LGBT rights. This movement arose after centuries of ridicule, persecution and even violence against homosexuals. Ultimately, most of society recognized that such treatment was simply wrong, and that such basic human rights as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on a person's sexual orientation,"

To coincide with housing and employment protections for LGBT individuals, the LDS church would also like to see additional legislation that protects those who have religious objections to certain lifestyles.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, who is openly gay and has long supported LGBT non-discrimination, was encouraged by today’s announcement. But he’s skeptical of new legislation to protect religious freedom.

"The fine line comes between a religious organization's first amendment rights and people who say 'I have a right to discriminate based on my own personal religious convictions.' And if we go down that road, will the emergency medical technician who comes across a victim on the street go, 'You know what, my personal religious convictions says I don't really like the color of the skin of that person, I'm not treating them.'"

This isn’t the first time the LDS church has supported a LGBT non-discrimination policy. In 2009, the church gave its blessing for a citywide ban on LGBT discrimination in Salt Lake City. However, this is the first time the church has recommended similar measures elsewhere.