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Mormon church backs legal protections for LGBT people — with one big exception

Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks gives an interview after the January 27 announcement in favor of non-discrimination protections.
Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks gives an interview after the January 27 announcement in favor of non-discrimination protections.
George Frey/Getty Images
  1. The Mormon church on Tuesday said in a news conference that it supports legal anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans.
  2. But the church said such laws should include exemptions for religious people.
  3. LGBT advocates say the exemption leaves too much room for legal discrimination.

The Mormon church wants protections for LGBT and religious Americans

Mormon church

A statue of Brigham Young, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stands in the center of Salt Lake City with the Mormon Temple spires in the background. (George Frey / AFP via Getty Images)

The announcement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, is a symbolic step in favor of LGBT rights.

The Mormon church called for anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations (restaurants, hotels, and most other businesses or buildings open to the general public), CNN reported. But the church also wants such laws to include exemptions for religious people who remain morally opposed to the LGBT community.

The church in 2009 supported similar nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in Salt Lake City. Tuesday's announcement extends that support to the rest of the country.

LGBT advocacy group Equality Utah praised the announcement. Other LGBT advocates acknowledged this could be a big symbolic step for the church and its members, but they said the religious exemptions are too large and could be used to continue discriminatory practices.

"As a matter of policy, there's no 'there' there," Fred Sainz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, told the Washington Post. "The so-called religious exemption is the size of five Mack trucks. It entirely neuters their proposal."

LGBT advocates have long demanded legal protections

lgbt rights protesters

LGBT rights protesters. (Kathryn Scott Osler / Denver Post via Getty Images)

LGBT advocates want legal protections against discrimination in all aspects of society, from the restaurant down the street to the county clerk issuing marriage licenses. But opponents believe constitutional protections for religious expression should extend even to forms of expression that discriminate against LGBT people.

Federal and state laws prohibit employers, housing providers, and public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin. But federal law and most states exclude sexual orientation and gender identity in their protections.

Further reading: Bakeries are at the center of the fight for LGBT rights. Why?