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LDS Church clarifies position on nondiscrimination legislation

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Deseret News archives

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church issued a statement Sunday that it has not changed its position on legislation that protects gays from discrimination in housing and employment.

On Friday, a draft of a new version of Mormon.org, beta.mormon.org, went live on the Internet and included a statement about nondiscrimination ordinances that some interpreted as a new announcement of support from the church for nondiscrimination ordinances.

"The reference to non-discrimination ordinances was meant to reflect the church's support for the 2009 Salt Lake ordinance and is not an announcement of any kind," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. "The church has been clear that its support of this specific ordinance was due to language that attempted to balance issues of non-discrimination and religious freedom.

"This clarification has now been made to the page in question. This is a beta site and is not a final product. Additional edits and changes are possible before it reaches final completion."

In 2009, the LDS Church supported a housing and employment nondiscrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. The City Council approved the ordinance, which provided protections for religious liberties.

The church's statement reaffirmed its support for such legislation where religious liberty protections are included.

Some expected Utah legislators to pass a statewide nondiscrimination law in the wake of the 2009 Salt Lake City ordinance, but they have not.

During the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, introduced a bill to amend Utah's laws to protect gays from discrimination in housing and employment. The bill didn't get a hearing due to concerns it would negatively impact the defense of Utah's gay marriage ban.

Urquhart plans to reintroduce the bill next month in the 2015 legislative session now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the Utah case, making gay marriage legal in the state.

The measure had reached a committee hearing in 2013.

Urquhart's bill would make it illegal to deny employment or housing to a person based on sexual orientation or gender. Exemptions are allowed for religiously affiliated businesses and housing.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com