Text of LDS statement on anti-bias proposal
"Good evening. My name is Michael Otterson, and I am here tonight officially representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The nondiscrimination ordinance being reviewed by the City Council concerns important questions for the thoughtful people of this community.
"Like most of America, our community in Salt Lake City is comprised of citizens of different faiths and values, different races and cultures, different political views and divergent demographics. Across America and around the world, diverse communities such as ours are wrestling with complex social and moral questions. People often feel strongly about such issues. Sometimes they feel so strongly that the ways in which they relate to one another seem to strain the fabric of our society, especially where the interests of one group seem to collide with the interests of another.
"The issue before you tonight is the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinance also attempts to balance vital issues of religious freedom. In essence, the church agrees with the approach which Mayor [Ralph] Becker is taking on this matter.
"In drafting this ordinance, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations, for example, in their hiring of people whose lives are in harmony with their tenets, or when providing housing for their university students and others that preserve religious requirements.
"The church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage. It is also entirely consistent with the church's prior position on these matters. The church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.
"I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree -- in fact, especially when we disagree. The church's past statements are on the public record for all to see. In these comments and in our actions, we try to follow what Jesus Christ taught. Our language will always be respectful and acknowledge those who differ, but will also be clear on matters that we feel are of great consequence to our society.
The proposed ordinances would:
» Forbid housing and employment discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity in Salt Lake City.
» Exempt religious organizations, businesses with fewer than 15 employees and some small landlords. (The exemptions mirror those in state and federal laws.)
» "Not create any special rights or privileges," the ordinances state, because "every person has a sexual orientation and a gender identity."
» Create a complaint and investigation process. The complaint could be resolved through mediation or a fine of up to $1,000.
» Not create a "private right of action" to sue over alleged discrimination.
» Require annual reports by the city's Human Rights Commission on the effectiveness of the statutes.
Source: Salt Lake City