John M. Becker

Mormon 'Compromise' on LGBT Rights Is a Poison Pill

Filed By John M. Becker | January 27, 2015 1:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living
Tags: false compromise, false equivalency, Mormon Church, nondiscrimination laws, poison pill, religious freedom, religious liberty, special rights

poison-pill-capsules.jpgLeaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) announced this morning at a press conference in Salt Lake City that while the church's opposition to marriage equality remains unchanged, they are prepared to support laws protecting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

But that support comes with a big, giant caveat: they want those laws to include broad protections for religion-based anti-LGBT bigotry.

CNN reports:

"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."

The Mormon church is one of several religious groups to complain about religious freedom coming under "attack" in recent years. The Catholic church and Southern Baptists, among other evangelicals, have sounded the alarm as well.

Oaks cited several examples on Tuesday, including:

  • The mayor of Houston subpoenaing sermon notes last year from pastors who opposed an equal rights ordination. The subpoena was later dropped.
  • Public pressure on a Mormon gymnast to step down as an Olympic liaison in 2011 because he had supported California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in 2008.
  • In 2014, Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign because he had donated money to support the passage of Prop 8.

Oaks's remarks also included a predictable lament about the alleged intolerance of proponents of LGBT rights. "It is one of today's great ironies that some people who have fought so hard for LGBT rights now try to deny the rights of others to disagree with their public policy proposals," he said.

Translation: tolerate our intolerance, you guys.

If the initial reports prove true, the Mormon Church seems willing to concede that LGBT people deserve to be protected from discrimination, as long as we agree that anti-LGBT bigotry deserves special privileges under the law, and -- unlike any other form of prejudice -- a seat at the table of civil discourse.

This "compromise" is a poison pill that the LGBT civil rights movement must never accept. We can never allow "because Jesus" to become a legally protected excuse to discriminate against LGBT folks in the public square.

Anti-LGBT bigotry cannot be "tolerated" in a truly civil society, even when it's wrapped in the mantle of religion. Instead, it must be treated in the exact same way that we treat other toxic prejudices like racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism: by banishing it from civil society and pushing it as far out on the fringes as possible.

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