Salt Lake City first Utah town to pass gay rights laws

Posted By: The Ski Channel on November 11, 2009 5:17 pm

In a surprising move, the Mormon Church backed legislation in Salt Lake City that bans discrimination in the city against gays, bisexuals or transgenders. The laws pertain to housing, employment, and ski resorts. Well, that last one wasn’t stated specifically per say, but I’m sure it’s included. Basically, the Church still feels the same way about gay marriage, but feels sexual orientation should not be a factor when it comes to institutions that are not considred sacred, like marriage. Here’s Michael Otterson, the director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage.”

Members of gay advocacy rights groups feel this is a big deal, not only for this specific case, but also for what it might lead to for the whole state. In Utah, lawmakers tend to think along the same lines as the Church (more than 80% of lawmakers and the governor are church members). So, this thinking may branch out and affect the entire state of Utah at some point.

Brandie Balken is the director of the gay rights advocacy group Equality Utah: “What happened here tonight I do believe is a historic event. I think it establishes that we can stand together on common ground that we don’t have to agree on everything, but there are lot of things that we can work on and be allies.”

This marks the church’s first public endorsement of specific legislation, but the church has shown support for some gay rights in the past. In 2008, they released a statement supporting gay rights related to hospitalization, medical care, employment, housing or probate as long as they “do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.”