Question: Since the Church teaches that homosexual conduct is sinful, does this mean it opposes efforts to protect those who engage in homosexual acts?

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Question: Since the Church teaches that homosexual conduct is sinful, does this mean it opposes efforts to protect those who engage in homosexual acts?

The Church has not opposed measures which grant all the civil or secular benefits of marriage to other domestic partnerships

The Church sees the institution of marriage in religious terms. Theologically, the Church cannot accede to a redefinition of marriage.[1] The Church has not, however, opposed measures which grant all the civil or secular benefits of marriage to other domestic partnerships (see California FAMILY.CODE SECTION 297-297.5). As the Church indicated during its opposition to the redefinition of marriage in California:

The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.[2]

The Church sustains the principle that all citizens are equal before the law

The Church sustains the principle that all citizens are equal before the law. Members of the Church are particularly sensitized to this issue because of their long history of persecution at the hands of private citizens and government agents in the nineteenth century. Even though Church members may disagree with the choices made by those who engage in homosexual acts, the Church has endorsed various measures to ensure fair treatment for them and others with same-sex attractions.

For example, Michael Otterson (managing director of the Church Public Affairs department) addressed the Salt Lake City Council meeting on 10 November 2009 and said:

The nondiscrimination ordinances being reviewed by the city council concern important questions for the 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 issues before you tonight are the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against. But, importantly, the ordinances also attempt to balance vital issues of religious freedom. In essence, the Church agrees with the approach which Mayor Becker is taking on this matter.

In drafting these ordinances, 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 these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage. They are 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. Thank you.[3]

Notes

  1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "The Divine Institution of Marriage," (13 August 2008).
  2. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "The Divine Institution of Marriage," (13 August 2008).
  3. Michael Otterson, Statement to SLC Council, 10 November 2009.