Something we can all celebrate

The Church has no problem with non-discrimination laws against gays in housing and employment.  This has been the position of most people I know who oppose same-sex marriage ever since the beginning, and I applaud the Church’s stand on this issue.  Comments that build up and support the Church are welcome.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

43 thoughts on “Something we can all celebrate

  1. Thanks Geoff for posting this. The prop 8 fight put a bad taste in my mouth. I support the prophet on the decision to define marriage. I was uncomfortable with some members who seemed to use the church’s position as a way to exercise their bigotry and not be Christ-like.

  2. I actually saw very little evidence of that, Joanna. I know a lot of Saints in California, and their primary position was defensive, ie, they mostly spent the pre-Prop. 8 period hoping they wouldn’t be insulted at work or their kids wouldn’t be insulted at school or hoping that their cars wouldn’t be keyed.

    Having said that, I am sure we have our share of bigots just like any other large group, and these measures by the Church will help people to separate out the protection of marriage from other ancillary issues. In addition, it’s just a good thing to oppose discrimination.

  3. No need for confusion, Bryce. Your comment pinpoints why many people are celebrating the Church’s statement and the passing of the ordinances last night.

    SLC government is usually a couple of weeks behind in uploading ordinances to their website, so it doesn’t look like the ordinance as passed is available online yet. You can see an earlier version of the bill and it’s background at the following link (this is from last month when Mayor Becker first sent the proposed ordinance to the City Council).

  4. In BSA v. Dale, the Supreme Court ruled that groups like the Boy Scouts could discriminate against gay as a matter of freedom of association.

  5. Bryce, thanks for your analysis. It seems to me that religious objectors are covered in most cases. Seems like the Church legal group did its homework.

  6. Personally, I think it’s a reality of modern-day life that business owners need to get used to dealing with people who have a homosexual lifestyle — as long as it doesn’t interfere with their job. I work with a lot of people who live lifestyles that I wouldn’t live — but as long as it doesn’t interfere with their job, I could care less. Sexual harassment laws are still in effect. I believe you can still fire somebody for not performing their jobs. But if they are not discussing their sexuality and are doing their jobs, and just happen to be homosexuals, and are fired because of that, it just seems plain wrong to me.

    Think of the Boy Scouts. A gay man can be a Scout Leader as long as it doesn’t affect his job, ie, he doesn’t make scouting about sexuality. I just became a Scout Leader, and there are no questions about sexuality on the application. However, if I were to begin to discuss sexuality with teenage boys, when we should be discussing merit badges and camping trips, etc, then I would not be performing the job appropriately, and I should be fired. The same thing applies in most jobs, it seems to me.

  7. I don’t know for sure, but let’s use the example of an LDS day care. Day care companies do a background check on their employees, right? Well, if the background check comes back clean, why do you care what the guy/girl does after-hours with their private life? Would you care if the guy was a “player” in a heterosexual way? No, you would only care if it affected his job.

    We don’t care about such things at Church. In fact, a celibate homosexual man can get a temple recommend. So are you saying that a celibate homosexual man is good enough to get in the temple but not work in an LDS bookstore?

  8. #17:
    But if they are not discussing their sexuality and are doing their jobs, and just happen to be homosexuals, and are fired because of that, it just seems plain wrong to me.

    This may depend on what you consider “discussing their sexuality,” Geoff. Is it “discussing their sexuality” if an individual states that he is gay? Personally, if my co-workers can stand around the proverbial water cooler and talk about the movie they and their spouse went to over the weekend, I feel at perfect liberty to say that my partner and I went to a concert, and I do so in just as “matter-of-fact” tone as they’ve done. Would that be “discussing my sexuality” in the sense you mean? Would it be okay for me to be gay, but not okay for me to mention it at work?

  9. Nick, from a legal standpoint, I don’t know. I’m sure an employment attorney could opine on the subject.

    From a “social grace” standpoint, it seems to me you need to be aware that your co-workers may be offended. You can of course choose to offend them, that is your right, but I personally prefer to avoid confrontation with the people I work with. In the “talking around the water-cooler” scenario you are mentioning, there is a long, long list of subjects I don’t discuss at the water-cooler. Politics and sexual subjects are high on that list.

  10. Bryce, on your numbers 21 and 22, I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I could care less what a Boy Scout leader does after-hours, and I think the Boy Scouts also agree in the sense that they don’t actively stop people from becoming Scout Leaders as long as they don’t discuss inappropriate subjects with the boys. It is more like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and personally I have no problem with that. I would also add that I would not have a problem with my sons being around a gay scout leader as long as he is not “openly gay” in the sense that he is bringing up homosexuality when he should be discussing merit badges. But if my boys saw their scout leader in town holding hands with another man, I could care less, as long as his behavior is appropriate during scout meetings.

    Regarding your #22, my opinion is that you should not be able to discriminate against somebody who does things after work hours that doesn’t affect his job performance. And I think that is the Church’s new position, as well, as far as I understand it (and I could be wrong).

    Let me add that I grew up in San Francisco around gay people, and none of it rubbed off. I’m a pretty conservative Mormon. I see nothing wrong with my children seeing gay people holding hands as they walk down the street. Just my two cents.

    We need to concentrate on the real issue, which is protecting marriage, which is central to God’s plan and central to the temple and our salvation. Worrying about side issues doesn’t get us anywhere.

  11. OK, Bryce.

    Warning to future commenters: Bryce is allowed his opinion, as am I. Any personal insults directed at him, me or any other commenters — or attempts to thread-jack — will be immediately deleted. If you want to disagree, keep on-subject and be polite. Thanks.

  12. Amen, Geoff. I agree with you completely that this law is a good thing and, more importantly, that it is a great thing that the Church publicly expressed support for the law.

  13. In the “talking around the water-cooler” scenario you are mentioning, there is a long, long list of subjects I don’t discuss at the water-cooler. Politics and sexual subjects are high on that list.

    Maybe you misunderstood me, Geoff. I wouldn’t discuss sexual subjects “around the water-cooler” either. If a male coworker tells me that he and his wife went to see a good movie over the weekend, that’s not a sexual subject. Likewise, if I tell a coworker that my partner and I went to a good concert, that’s not a sexual subject. If someone is going to be offended by such an incidental mention of my partner, then that pretty much falls into the category of choosing to be offended, don’t you think?

  14. I believe an openly homosexual man trying to market LDS products would hugely affect his job performance.

    Bryce, this would likely come under “bona fide requirements” of a position. You couldn’t fire the guy for being gay, or refuse to hire the guy for being gay, but if you fired him because his job performance was substandard, that’s not discrimination, even if being gay was arguably the cause of that poor performance.

    These are always touchy discussions, regardless of what group is protected by anti-discrimination laws. To take an absurdly-extreme example, suppose a business specializes in making white robes and hoods, and their biggest source of customers happens to be the KKK. It probably wouldn’t make much sense for that business to hire African-American salespeople, no matter how much we deplored discrimination. The bigger question, however, is why would any African-American person want to work for such a company?

    Personally, if I applied for a job and found out that the employer was the kind of person who would fire someone because they were gay, I’d never want to go work there.

  15. #29:
    Nick, for me, yes. You do what you think is best.

    Sorry, Geoff, but I threw a few things out there, and I’m not sure which thing you’re saying “yes” to. 🙂

  16. Sutherland Institute or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That is such a tough choice. I stuck with the Church despite my discomfort over Prop. 8. Bryce, I hope you can do the same over this.

  17. “If the Church fully believes that this law is good, and right, and that we should all support such anti-discriminatory laws, then I will support the Church.”

    Well the church came out with a statement saying as much. You have spent the whole day acting as though they are clueless about these issues. I get the impression that they think about these things a lot.

  18. #34:
    So, if I choose that a homosexual lifestyle is in contradiction to the “moral character” requirement of a position in my LDS business, would that be an acceptable reason to not hire an openly homosexual person?

    Which “homosexual lifestyle” do you mean, Bryce? I’m aware of openly-homosexual men who are celibate and active in the LDS church. Since they are homosexual men, their lifestyles, including their LDS church activity, are “homosexual lifestyles.”

  19. Bryce here is what Brother Otterson said in the statement:

    “In drafting this ordinance, the city has granted common-sense rights that should be available to everyone, while safeguarding the crucial rights of religious organizations, for example, in their hiring of people whose lives are in harmony with their tenets, or when providing housing for their university students and others that preserve religious requirements.

    “The Church supports this ordinance because it is fair and reasonable and does not do violence to the institution of marriage. It is also entirely consistent with the Church’s prior position on these matters. The Church remains unequivocally committed to defending the bedrock foundation of marriage between a man and a woman.

    “I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree – in fact, especially when we disagree. The Church’s past statements are on the public record for all to see. In these comments and in our actions, we try to follow what Jesus Christ taught. Our language will always be respectful and acknowledge those who differ, but will also be clear on matters that we feel are of great consequence to our society.”

  20. I’m just grateful that straight people in Utah won’t be fired because they’re straight and won’t be denied a place to sleep at night because they aren’t shacking up with someone of the same sex and that churches won’t have to employ our house straight people when it would be against their strongly held religious convictions/doctrines.

    Finally, we get the same protections in Utah that we’ve been living with in California. That is all.

  21. Geoff,

    My wife was impressed with your comments on this thread. Hey, maybe you and I should celebrate, even if Bryce cannot join in.

  22. Bryce,
    Presumably yes, you couldn’t refuse to hire someone for your LDS bookstore. That’s kind of the point–that you can’t discriminate. Already I believe the LDS bookstore can’t discriminate based on religion, even if the person is Baptist.

  23. There are a couple of other points I think need to be made.

    The first is that employers getting involved in the private lives of employees is really a slippery slope. I think we have established that, all things being equal, the issue at hand is the issue of a “homosexual lifestyle.” We are really talking about two things here. One is “openly gay” people who may have an appearance that some people would object to. And the other is what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Well, we have also established that there are some people who choose to be celibate and have temple recommends. So, really, the issue is that they have an “openly gay” appearance.

    So, at the end of the day some people are objecting to either 1) peoples’ appearance or 2)things they do in the privacy of their own homes. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I as an employer would care about 1) or 2) unless it affected their performance as an employee in some way, and the law seems to protect me as an employer for that. And I don’t think we want a world where employers are getting concerned about what people do after-hours unless it affects their job performance.

    The other point I want to make is that when you mention “Mormon” and “gay” to your average person, they think “homophobe.” Well, part of this is simply because we have lost the public relations war. Because anybody who knows Mormons knows that we are a loving, accepting people for the most part. I really mean that, although it sounds kind of sappy. But the issue is that we have to somehow, on a PR basis, move away from this perception because it is hurting us and it shows that we are really misunderstood as a people. And the reality is that the primary reason the Brethren care about homosexuality is because the institution of marriage is, for us, sacred and central to our doctrine.

    So, as a PR move, it is really quite brilliant to say, “look, we don’t have a problem with gays, we have a problem with changing the definition of marriage.” I believe this has been our main message all along, but the general populace has missed this message in all the noise about homophobia. And hopefully now we can concentrate on that message and continue to protect marriage.

  24. “I’m also confused by the Church’s statement that it “agrees with the approach which Mayor Becker is taking on this matter,” and then says it “supports these ordinances.” Which is it? Is it the approach of the matter that the Church agrees with (non-discriminatory laws with protections for religious freedoms), or do they support the ordinances…”


    Gays want the right to get married. You want the right to fire/not hire people because they are gay. The church does not appear to agree that either of these rights should be put into law.

    What is up with the “hook, line, and sinker” stuff. You tone is not one of seeking to understand. Passive aggressive is still aggressive. Luckily for you, right-wing critiques do not violate the invitation (in the original post)for “Comments that build up and support the Church are welcome.”

  25. Geoff,

    I also think that some Mormons who are homophobic have taken the Church’s opposition to gay marriage to somehow justify all of their anti-gay feelings and positions. This clears that up…I hope.

  26. Bryce,
    Religious affiliation certainly may be a bona fide qualification for employment as the pastor of a church; I sincerely doubt, however, that it is a permissible consideration for the employee of a religious bookstore.

    The point of anti-discrimination legislation is that all people have dignity which needs to be respected. Ultimately, the fact that Salt Lake passed such legislation, although good, doesn’t matter to me; I’ve never lived there and doubt I ever will. But that the Church explicitly endorsed the idea that all people, straight or gay, have inherent worth and have the right not to be discriminated against in housing and in employment makes me proud of my religion.

  27. All I can say is the Sutherland Institute is far off the charts for a conservative think tank. Sometimes they like to give the impression that they are the Utah equivalent of the Heritage Foundation, but unlike the latter (which is rather mainstream) they are so backwards a candidate that adopted their recommended positions probably couldn’t ever get elected to a statewide office, for example.

  28. Bryce H, I don’t think your comments are out of line, but that is certainly not a popular position you have been defending there. I can certainly appreciate why some of the (rather uncommon) but more extreme displays would make a lot of people uncomfortable. However, I think there are much more proper ways of dealing with that than refusing to hire someone based on sexual orientation alone.

  29. Mark,

    I have often felt that way about Sutherland, but I am far left, so it is good to hear it from you. I think they get a lot of attention in Utah because they are one of the only think tanks in town.


    It was a good exercise all around. No hard feelings, I hope.

  30. Personally, I think it’s important as an intellectual exercise for people to think through this issue. That’s one of the reasons blogs exist.

  31. I, for one, appreciate your comments in this post, Geoff. You and I obviously disagree on many things, but you’ve made some comments here which have really impressed me. It’s nice to see that some of my earlier impressions were more charicature than reality. 🙂

  32. I occurs to me you comment #40 can be very illustrative, Nick. I have ALWAYS held the position, probably since the 1980s, that there should be anti-discrimination laws based on sexual preference in hiring and housing. The reasons are all of the reasons I state above. Again, I just don’t think employers should care about anything but job performance.

    But because I have spent so much time writing about defense of marriage, the caricature is, “oh, he’s a right-wing homophobe.” Don’t worry, I’m aware of this caricature and it’s frustrating for me. I know this is trite, but I DID grow up in San Francisco, I’ve been around gays all of my life, and I DON’T feel uncomfortable around gays. One of my roommates in college was openly gay, shared a bathroom with the guy, was friends with his boyfriend, etc.

    So, separating out the issue of marriage from other gay rights issues is really, really important because we can concentrate on things that are important rather than the noise that is not relevant to the defense of marriage debate.

  33. I don’t envy the challenge you face in that regard, Geoff. Where there are loud and hateful voices taking a particular stand, any agreement with that position tends to render one “guilty by association” with the whole package of their rhetoric, etc. On an issue like this, where there are strong emotions involved, it’s sometimes hard for either side to avoid seeing the other as more than one-dimensional “villians.” It’s all too easy to associate those on the opposite side of the issue with the real extremists.

    You make a good point about separating out the issues, and putting to rest those which aren’t all that relevant to the specific question of marriage. The LDS statement regarding housing and employment can be a step in the right direction on this point. At the same time, however, I hope that future efforts along these lines can be just a bit more artful in their execution. While I understand that LDS leaders must have been sensitive to seeing that their gesture wasn’t misinterpreted, perhaps the official statement could have made that point without using language which honestly feels like a backhanded slap to many GLBT people. If I had the chance to give “friendly advice” to the LDS public affairs staff, I’d suggest that they replace “do not do violence to the institution of marriage” with something a little more temperate, such as “do not impact the institution of marriage.” (I hope I can say that, Geoff, without running afoul of your desire for uplifting comments–if not, feel free to scratch the second paragraph.)

Comments are closed.