Mormons Building Bridges and Sutherland Institute react to LDS church announcement

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addresses members of the media at a press conference at the worldwide headquarters of the LDS Church. Oaks, along with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (seated at the left), also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Neill Marriott (seated in the middle), a member of the Young Women's Presidency, spoke on issues of nondiscrimination and religious freedom Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

During a rare news conference Tuesday, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for legislation across the country that provides religious freedom as well as protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Apostle Dallin H. Oakes said state legislatures across the country are being asked to strengthen laws against LGBT discrimination relating to such issues as housing and employment.

Bill Duncan of the Sutherland Institute said he believes the message was positive. On KVNU’s For the People program Tuesday, Duncan said he’s not sure how this will affect political decisions in Utah where a new legislative session has just begun.

“We need to couple the two. They are not separate issues that ought to be considered without the other,” he exclaimed. “I suspect there will be a need to start from scratch.

“Not just to say this helps us to know what to do about (senate bill)-whatever or (house bill)-whatever but we’re going to need to be a little more deliberative as we address some of these questions.”

Duncan said he believes it will take a while to come up with proposals that address the principles outlined in the press conference.

Meanwhile, Dorrie Burt, a leader in the local Mormons Building Bridges organization, said she was pleased to hear the announcement but is concerned that it still had some ambiguity.

Also on KVNU’s For the People program Tuesday, Burt said Oaks did not go far enough when he said protections against discrimination in housing, employment and accommodation are not available in many parts of the country.

“I really wish he had said, ‘including Utah,'” Burt said. “Because to be really clear on that it kind of left the feeling of ‘well, Utah is okay, we are okay.’ But we’re not.

“We are part of the country he is speaking of where our LGBT citizens do not have protection in housing, in employment and we need to.”

Burt said hopefully it will help get non-discrimination bills approved and in the past state lawmakers have paid close attention to what Mormon leaders have to say.

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