Last night the city council of Salt Lake City unanimously passed an ordinance outlawing discrimination against gays in employment and housing, the first such law in the entire state of Utah. Very surprisingly, among those speaking in support of the bill were official representatives of the LDS Church.
Hours after the LDS Church announced its support Tuesday night of proposed Salt Lake City ordinances aimed at protecting gay and transgender residents from discrimination in housing and employment, the City Council unanimously approved the measures. “The church supports these ordinances,” spokesman Michael Otterson told the council, “because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage.” They also are consistent with Mormon teachings, he said. “I believe in a church that believes in human dignity, in treating people with respect even when we disagree — in fact, especially when we disagree.” Normally more deliberate, the council opted to vote after dozens of residents in the overflowing crowd expressed their support. “Guaranteeing a right to fair housing and fair employment is not an issue of compromise,” Councilwoman Jill Remington Love said. “We are a stronger, better city this evening. I’m proud to serve on a City Council where this isn’t even controversial.”
The LDS Church’s endorsement was hailed by leaders of Utah’s gay community — some of them stunned — who called it a historic night they hope will set the stage for statewide legislation. “This is a great step,” said Will Carlson, director of public policy for the advocacy group Equality Utah. But, he noted, four out of five gay Utahns live outside the capital and should be afforded protection as well. “Equality Utah will continue to work for that.” Councilman J.T. Martin said some will dismiss the church’s move, arguing LDS leaders blinked or caved to pressure. “That’s not the case,” he said. “I can tell you they do have compassion. They have church members who have gay sons and daughters, and they know this is an issue that touches everyone’s life.”
Do you think this is penance for Prop 8? Damage control? Does it matter?