Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement explaining how the church can “support LGBT rights in housing and employment on the grounds of fairness for all but oppose same-sex marriage.”
The need for clarification has come from two recent positions on which the church has decided to weigh in. The first was on two recent bills that were passed by the Utah legislature, one defending religious freedom and the other defending housing and employment rights for LGBT people. The other position was stated in an amicus brief of major religious organizations filed with the Supreme Court for a case to be decided this summer when the justices decide whether or not to force states to conduct and to honor gay marriages in every state.
The amicus brief, which claims the representation of over 50 million Americans through their religious affiliation, asks the court to consider the harm that will be done to religious organizations if the court decides to mandate that states perform and honor gay marriage in all fifty states. At the heart of the argument is the court’s interpretation of the fourteenth amendment Equal Protection clause which states,
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The brief asks the court to allow states to decide marriage definitions or, “at a minimum, the Court should carefully consider how a ruling mandating same-sex marriage would adversely affect religious liberty.”
In the Newsroom release, the church also explains that religious rights and freedoms have already been curtailed in many instances when those rights have come into conflict with gay marriage rights in states that have included gay marriage as a legal union equivalent to heterosexual unions. For example, “in Idaho and New Jersey, gay rights advocates have brought lawsuits and administrative proceedings in an attempt to force religious denominations to make their religious properties and facilities available to celebrate same-sex weddings.” Also, “California judges will soon be banned from joining the Boy Scouts or any other nonreligious youth group that espouses traditional morality. The accreditation of Gordon College is being challenged because its honor code prohibits “sexual relations outside of marriage and homosexual practice.” A counseling student in Michigan was expelled from her program when she respectfully requested that a gay client be referred to one of numerous other counselors in the nearby area.”
The Church concluded the statement by suggesting that when an item is decided by the court, there is a winner and a loser. A better path would be to pursue a path “that allows for give and take, reasonable accommodation and mutual respect,” and argues that “fairness for all” is “much better accomplished in legislatures than in the courts.”