Last week The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new website targeted to people struggling with homosexuality and the relationships they have within their families and faith community. In announcing this unprecedented outreach, LDS Church Apostle Dallin H. Oaks said,
Same-gender attraction presents many issues and questions in society at large. These include what causes it, whether it is subject to change in kind or degree, and whether, or the extent of which, laws like marriage should accommodate it. Our discussion is limited to two related questions we sometimes hear in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…
We will not discuss any of the multitude of other issues and questions. There is so much we don’t understand about this subject, that we’d do well to stay close to what we know from the revealed word of God. What we do know is that the doctrine of the church, that sexual activity should only occur between a man and a woman who are married, has not changed and is not changing. But what is changing and what needs to change is to help our own members and families understand how to deal with same-gender attraction.
Indeed the nation is abuzz with another announcement regarding “gay rights” – this time from the United States Supreme Court that announced it will consider two high-profile cases, the state Prop 8 case and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In Utah, depending on how those court cases are decided, the biggest “gay rights”-related issue could be religious freedom. And while I don’t question the sincerity of the LDS Church in its stated desires to reach out to people struggling with homosexuality, highlighting the inherent kindness within the gospel of Jesus Christ instead of the realities of LDS doctrine on human sexuality is smart public relations, especially in the face of accusations from homosexual activists and their attorneys that the LDS Church has animus for those struggling souls. The Supreme Court has a precedent to decide matters in favor of “gay rights” on the basis of animus. It just makes political sense to show a more compassionate side if the primary goal is to protect the definition of marriage in a court of law.
Because of these complications, it’s quite possible that strange bedfellows might unite in Utah to push “gay rights.” The most widely discussed policy today is a statewide nondiscrimination law to give special legal rights to people struggling with homosexuality in circumstances involving employment and housing. I say “special rights” because these laws are constructed around what a person thinks. No other law does that. No other group of people is afforded that advantage in our legal system. In this case, a person who self-identifies as a homosexual would unilaterally decide if he or she is being discriminated against. That’s a pretty special and unprecedented right.
Regardless of how all of this plays out, we can thank the LDS Church for its principled consistency in advocating the gospel of Jesus Christ and we can thank the people of Utah for their common sense.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.