In an official statement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacted to the Equality Act, a piece of legislation hoping to expand federal nondiscrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT Americans while also limiting federal religious freedom protections.
The statement reaffirmed the Church’s position in “favoring reasonable measures” ensuring LGBT persons have fair access to housing, employment, and appropriate public accommodations.
“At the same time, we urgently need laws that protect the rights of individuals and faith communities to freely gather, speak out publicly, serve faithfully and live openly according to their religious beliefs without discrimination or retaliation, even when those beliefs may be unpopular,” the statement read. “This includes the right of religious organizations and religious schools to establish faith-based employment and admissions standards and to preserve the religious nature of their activities and properties.”
In regards to the Equality Act, the statement reads:
“The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all. 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 under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties. The Church joins other religious organizations that also strongly oppose the Equality Act as unbalanced, fundamentally unfair and a path to further conflict.
The Church calls upon members of Congress to pass legislation that vigorously protects religious freedom while also protecting basic civil rights for LGBT persons. It is time for wise policymakers to end this destructive conflict and protect the rights of all Americans.”
The Equality Act was introduced simultaneously in the House of Representatives and the Senate on March 13, 2019. The House of Representatives was expected to vote in full on the bill in May 2019 month, with the vote now possibly coming as early as this week. The bill aims to “expand as well as clarify, confirm and create greater consistency in the protections and remedies against discrimination on the basis of all covered characteristics and to provide guidance and notice to individuals, organizations, corporations, and agencies regarding their obligations under the law.”