Calling The LDS’s Bluff
November 11th, 2008
On the day after election day, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a triumphant press release crowing about their smashing success in stripping gays of their rights in California and permanently assigning gays to second-class citizenship in Arizona and Florida. But they insisted that they weren’t anti-gay, or even opposed to some rights for gays and lesbians:
… the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples 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 traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.
Well now Equality Utah and Sen. Scott McCoy, Utah’s first openly gay state Senator, is taking the LDS Church at their word and calling their bluff. Using the very same points raised in the Mormons’ press release as their legislative agenda, Utah state Senator Scott McCoy and state Rep. Christine Johnson will introduce five bills for the 2009 general session of the Utah legislature. They are (PDF: 32KB/3 pages):
- Hospitalization & Medical Care
Most gay people with insurance cannot insure their family. This bill will mandate that insurance plans, which extend benefits to an employee’s spouse, also cover an employee’s partner. When insurance plans cover families, they should cover every family member.
- Fair Housing & Employment
Currently, it is legal to fire a person from her job or evict a person from his home just for being gay or transgender. The Fair Housing and Workplace bill will expand on HB 89, introduced by Representative Christine Johnson in the 2008 session. It will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics employers and landlords may not consider when making employment or housing decisions.
- Probate Rights – Wrongful Death Amendments
The death of a loved one is painful. When someone dies, we can protect the family’s financial security by removing barriers to inheritance and insurance. As part of this effort, we will continue to support Senator Scott McCoy’s Wrongful Death Amendments legislation.
- Domestic Partner Rights & Responsibilities Act
The term “marriage” has proven to stir up many conflicts. Aside from marriage, we can do much more to help committed couples care for each other. This bill creates a statewide domestic partner registry as exists in California and attaches rights of inheritance, insurance and fair housing.
- Repeal of part 2 of Utah’s Amendment 3
A registry that covers inheritance, housing, and insurance is not the legal equivalent of marriage. Yet the second part of Amendment 3 has been misinterpreted to avoid any recognition of gay couples. Laws that deny basic protections under the law should be repealed. This bill will repeal the portion of Amendment 3 which states “no other domestic union; however, denominated, may be recognized as marriage or be given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.”
If the LDS leadership is serious about their rhetoric about not being anti-gay, they have a golden opportunity to try to put some action behind their words. Mike Thompson, Equality Utah’s Executive Director invited the LDS church to do just that by asking these very pointed questions:
The LDS Church has stated that it does not oppose same-sex couples receiving such rights as “hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights?” Will the LDS Church be willing to support efforts to secure these rights?
Is the LDS Church willing to assign a member of its Presidency of the Seventy to lead Church efforts to secure these rights, just as it did with Proposition 8?
As it did in California, will the First Presidency draft a letter to Utah Latter- Day Saints in support of rights and protections for gay couples?
As it did in California, will the First Presidency ask for this letter to be read to all Utah congregations on a specified date?
Will the First Presidency ask that all members of the LDS Church do all they can do, including “donating their means and their time”, to assure that gay couples receive such rights as hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights” — just as it asked its members to do in support of California’s Proposition 8?
Will local Church leaders provide information to its members about how to get involved in supporting such rights, just as it did in California?
Finally, we ask members of the LDS Church, will you ask your church leaders to support these efforts?
In other words, are the LDS leaderships protestations that they aren’t anti-gay real? Or are they just empty words uttered in the face of a backlash?