Latter-day Saint leader joins open letter to Georgia: LGBTQ, religious rights don’t have to conflict
‘LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict,’ 54 gay rights and religious leaders say in letter published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Latter-day Saint leader announced support Tuesday for legislation in Georgia that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination while also protecting religious rights.
“LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict,” 54 religious leaders and gay rights advocates said in a joint open letter to Georgians published Tuesday morning by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The first name listed was Elder M. Andrew Galt IV, an Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The church’s senior leadership has supported similar “Fairness for All” legislation since 2015, when Utah passed a historic anti-discrimination and religious rights compromise with the church’s backing.
Tuesday’s letter comes two months after Latter-day Saint leaders announced support for an Arizona bill that also would provide religious freedom and LGBT anti-discrimination protections.
The Church of Jesus Christ also supports the federal Fairness for All Act proposed in Congress.
“We believe that the state of Georgia is uniquely positioned to come together to protect all people, unify our state and help bring healing to our nation on what for too long has been a divisive issue,” Tuesday’s letter said. “That may not be easy, and it will certainly require goodwill and mutual accommodation, but it can and must be done.”
The letter was signed by the executive director of Georgia Equality and other LGBTQ advocates as well as evangelical, Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish and other religious leaders.
“We are extremely concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse people of goodwill from living together in peace and mutual respect,” they wrote.
No bill has been proposed yet in the Georgia Legislature, but the writers asked Georgians to support public policy that “provides protections for LGBTQ persons as well as people and institutions of faith.”
The summary of the article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s opinion page described the letter as “a unique position to bridge divides and protect all from discrimination, even on a divisive issue.”
The letter specifically asked for support for legislation that would protect all people, from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, while also protecting important religious rights.
“No one should be denied these protections based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; and likewise religious persons and institutions should be protected in practicing their faith,” the writers said. “We believe that we are all children of a loving God who has commanded us to love each other. We are also Americans with a long tradition of figuring out how to get along despite deep differences.”
The entire list of signees was:
- Elder M. Andrew Galt IV, Area Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Jeff Graham, executive director, Georgia Equality
- Mary Anne Adams, ZAMI NOBLA: National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging
- Rabbi Peter Berg, The Temple
- Rev. Richard Burdick, Unity North Atlanta Church
- Kenyetta Chinwe, SisterSong
- Rev. Bronte Colbert, Unity Athens Spiritual Center
- Lee Carroll, The Open Door Community
- Rev. Kathleen Deegan-Neal, North Georgia United Methodist Church
- Cody Deese, Vinings Lake Church
- Jamie Fergerson, Atlanta Pride Committee
- Dorothy Foster, North Georgia Immigrant Justice
- Rabbi Brian Glusman, Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
- Lynn TenHarmsel Green, PFLAG, Rome, Ga.
- Jessica Godfrey, United Women in Faith
- Rose Kantorczyk, SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity
- David Key, Lake Oconee Community Church
- Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Attune
- Rev. David Lewicki, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
- Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel
- Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta
- Rev. Carole Maddux, Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center
- Rev. Catherine Meeks, Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing
- Ann Miller, PFLAG
- Rev Marsha Mitchiner, First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta
- Sohayl Moshtael, Baha’is of Oconee County
- Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser, Interfaith Atlanta
- Rev. Dr. Joshua M. Noblitt, Saint Mark United Methodist Church
- Sebastian Nix, Trans Housing Atlanta Program
- Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
- Ryan Roemmerman, National Center for Civil and Human Rights LGBTQ Institute
- Ambreen Sohani, Interfaith Atlanta
- Sima Abadi, Maktab Tariqhat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi, (M.T.O.) School of Islamic Sufism
- Parminder Singh, Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta
- The Rev. Sarah C. Stewart, All Saints’ Episcopal Church
- Bishop Kevin Strickland, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Southeastern Synod
- Duncan Teague, Abundant Love Unitarian Universalist Congregation
- Rev. Bob Thompson, Compassionate Atlanta
- Matt Thompson, Vinings Lake Church
- Rev. Paul M. Turner, Gentle Spirit Christian Church
- Connie Tuttle, Circle of Grace Community Church
- Winnie Varghese, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
- Graham Younger, Faith in Public Life
- Rev. Kathleen Deegan-Neal
- Rev. James R. Gwin
- Rabbi Neil Sandler
- Rabbi Rachael Bregman
- Sara Toering
- Rev. Nibs Stroupe
- Leo Seyij Allen
- Amanda Gable
- Caroline Leach
- Shavonne Williams
- Rev. Dr. Joseph McBrayer