Attendance at the 190th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 3-4, 2020 around the world.

Courtesy: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The Church of Jesus Christ stands by opposition to Equality Act, instead calls for protection of religious freedom and LGBTQ community

By Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Posted - Feb. 27, 2021 at 1:50 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands by its original opposing on the Equality Act, which was passed this week by the U.S. House of Representatives, a church official said in a statement Saturday.

In 2019, the church released a statement saying the legislation didn't do enough to protect religious rights.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious liberty and LGBT rights is poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse Americans of good will from living together in respect and peace," the 2019 statement reads.

Instead, church leaders asked Congress members to include language that would protect both religious freedom and basic civil rights for the LGBTQ community.

On Saturday, a church spokesman said the church still feels that the legislation does not protect both LGBTQ individuals and churches.

"We stand by our statements from 2019 and reiterate the church's support for equality and fairness," spokesman Doug Andersen said in the statement. "We could support legislation that provides protection for LGBT persons as well as people and institutions of faith. Both are possible and clearly required in a just society."

The church does support legislation they feel "accomplishes both of these critical requirements and is confident that a balanced, fair, and unifying approach can be achieved," like the Fairness for All Act, HR5331, introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.

The Equality Act, passed Thursday by the Democrat-controlled House, expands existing civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected classes for employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas, the Associated Press reported.

In the church's 2019 statement, officials said the legislation was not balanced and was unfair.

"While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom. It would instead repeal long-standing religious rights ... threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties," the 2019 statement reads.

Editor's Note: Deseret Digital Media, Inc., the operator of KSL.com, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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