Equality Utah, the state's largest gay
rights advocacy group, announced plans on Monday to call on leaders
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) to
back planned civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians in the
The gay rights group enlisted the
support of two openly gay Utah legislators to introduce five bills
into the state Legislature in January 2009 when legislators
The Mormon Church remains under attack
by gay rights activists who say their meddling – and overwhelming
financial support – in California politics tipped approval of
Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that revoked the right of gays
and lesbians to marry by amending the California constitution.
Tuesday's passage of the gay marriage
ban angered thousands to protest in the streets of San Francisco, Los
Angeles, San Diego and even Salt Lake City, home of the Mormons.
Many protests in Los Angeles, Oakland and Salt Lake City were
directed at Mormon involvement.
Equality Utah, however, sees in the gay
marriage ban rhetoric used by Mormon leaders in California an
opportunity to advance gay rights in the state.
“Throughout the campaign, while the
LDS Church stated its support for Proposition 8, it also made
repeated comments that the Church 'does not object to rights for
same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair
housing and employment rights, or probate rights',” said Equality
Utah Board Chairwoman Stephanie Pappas in announcing the gay
legislation effort. “Just last week, Elder L. Whitney Clayton
stated the LDS Church does not oppose 'civil unions or domestic
“We are taking the LDS Church at its
word regarding these basic protections and we hope to gain their
support as we work to secure these rights and responsibilities.”
Openly gay Utah Senator Scott McCoy and
Representative Christine Johnson announced they will introduce five
legislative bills in January that closely straddle the pro-gay
positions expressed by the church during the June-to-November Prop 8
campaign. Three bills would bring greater equality to gays and
lesbians in the areas of hospitalization, medical care, housing,
employment and probate rights.
And a pair of bills would create a
domestic partner registry for gay and lesbian couples by repealing a
part of Utah's constitutional marriage amendment. The group said
they had no plans to pursue gay marriage, which Mormon leaders say
they cannot abide.
Supporters of the plan called on the
Mormon Church's blessing, saying it would “bridge the divide
between the gay community and the LDS community.” They asked that
the church help secure passage of these rights for gay Utahans with
the same commitment and energy used in supporting the gay marriage
ban in California.
“We need to come back down and we
need to think, 'OK, now that we are where we are, what is the way we
move forward?'” Senator McCoy said. “And the way that we move
forward is to channel that energy and that anger and that
disappointment into constructive channels.”
The Mormon Church has not issued a