Bill Backed by Latter-Day Saints Would Protect LGBTQ Arizonans

Bill backed by Latter-day Saints would protect LGBTQ Arizona
Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

Latter-day Saint leaders expressed support Monday for a new bill in Arizona that would provide religious freedom and LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

Why it matters: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face discrimination in housing and employment.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped propose and support the 2015 Utah Compromise that extended legal protections in housing and employment to LGBT people while simultaneously codifying protections for religious liberty.
  • The church now has announced support for both the new Arizona bill and the federal Fairness for All Act before Congress.

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The news: The Arizona bill will be filed in the state Legislature today and has bipartisan support, leaders said this morning at a joint news conference on the the lawn of the Arizona Capitol. The bill would ban conversion therapy.

  • Leaders from major LGBT advocacy groups were joined by Arizona political, business and religious leaders, including the speaker of the Republican-controlled House and the mayor of Mesa. The news conference can be viewed on Facebook.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ did not speak at the news conference but released a statement afterward on an official church website: “The church is pleased to be part of a coalition of faith, business, LGBTQ people and community leaders who have worked together in a spirit of trust and mutual respect to address issues that matter to all members of our community. It is our position that this bipartisan bill preserves the religious rights of individuals and communities of faith while protecting the rights of members of the LGBTQ community, consistent with the principles of fairness for all.”

The bigger picture: Congress and statehouses around the nation are grappling with balancing LGBTQ protection and religious liberty.

  • In 2019, when the bill known as the Fairness for All Act was introduced in Congress, Latter-day Saint leadership said, “the nation is more united when diverse individuals and groups can work cooperatively to advance sound policy.”
  • In November, President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency said the nation’s believers should respect legal efforts to protect people from discrimination as much as they desire to protect religious liberty.
  • “We must not allow fears about losing our own freedoms make us insensitive to others’ claims for theirs,” he said at the University of Virginia. “Let us unite with those who advocate nondiscrimination to seek a culture and laws that respect the rights of all to the equal protection of the law and the right to the free exercise of religion.”

Who was there: Monday’s press conference included a leaders from a wide range of Arizona leadership.

  • Rep. Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of Arizona’s House of Representatives, and two state representatives, Rep. Amish Shah and Rep. Daniel Hernandez, who are Democrats, attended. Mesa Mayor John Giles also attended. The Arizona bill is sponsored by Shah and co-sponsored by Bowers.
  • Three LGBT advocacy groups joined the announcement, including Michael Soto, executive director of Equality Arizona; Angela Hughey, president of ONE Community; and Nate Rhoton, executive director of one.n.ten, which supports LGBTQ youth.
  • Robert Heidt, president and CEO of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, and John Graham, CEO and chairman of Sunbelt Holdings, represented the business community.
  • Bishop Jennifer Reddall, of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, was joined by several local faith leaders, including Latter-day Saints.

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