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LDS Church responds to Supreme Court ruling about baker, same-sex wedding case

The LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.
The LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.
Deseret News Archives

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church released a brief response Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the state of Colorado failed to respect the religious rights of a baker who said his Christian faith prevented him for providing a cake for a same-sex wedding.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes today’s Supreme Court decision," church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. "The nation’s laws can protect both religious liberty and the rights of LGBT citizens. That is the meaning of fairness for all."

In January 2015, LDS leaders announced a "fairness for all" approach to balancing religious and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. They said the church supports nondiscrimination legislation protecting gays against inequity in employment, housing and places of public accommodation like restaurants and hotels if ordinances and laws include language protecting religious liberty and specifying how to apply the First Amendment guarantees to the free exercise of religion in each case.

Last fall, the LDS Church filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief with seven other churches or organizations in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The brief argued that the Supreme Court, after protecting the right of same-sex couples to marry in 2015, "must hold that religious dissenters from same-sex marriage have the same liberty to live consistently with their identity."

The brief appealed for protection for conscientious objectors and same-sex couples.

"The classic American response to deep conflicts like that between gay rights and traditional religious faith is to protect the liberty of both sides," the brief stated. "The very arguments that underlie protection of same-sex marriage also support strong protection for religious liberty. Religious believers and same-sex couples each argue that a fundamental component of their identity, and the conduct that flows from that identity, should be left to each individual, free of all nonessential regulation."

The brief noted the LDS Church's support and participation in legislation passed by the Utah Legislature in 2015 securing rights for LGBT residents while protecting religious freedom.

"When religious and LGBT interests conflict, the church advocates civility, protection of core rights for all, and reasonable compromise, with the goal being pluralism rather than domination by either side," the brief stated in its explanation of the LDS position. "The church joins this brief out of a conviction that this court must rigorously protect basic First Amendment rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion to safeguard the conditions that make such pluralism possible."