The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on May 13 encouraging a “fairness for all” approach concerning the ongoing conflict between LGBT rights and religious freedom.
The statement addresses the Equality Act, a legislative proposal aimed at protecting LGBT Americans that could pass the House of Representatives as soon as this week. Church leaders expressed concern with the Act’s potential impact on religious freedom.
“The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all,” the Church said. “While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom.”
Church leaders called for American policymakers to protect the rights of those from both sides of the issue.
“The Church calls upon members of Congress to pass legislation that vigorously protects religious freedom while also protecting basic civil rights for LGBT persons,” the Church said. “It is time for wise policymakers to end this destructive conflict and protect the rights of all Americans.”
If passed, the Equality Act would outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity-based discrimination in employment, housing and other public accommodations. It would also limit the defenses for those who violate these protections for religious reasons.
Both the Church’s statement and the Equality Act focus on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law passed in 1993 ensuring “that interests in religious freedom are protected.” Church leaders stated the Equality Act would repeal entirely the rights promised in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threatening religious employment standards, religious education and religious charities as well as imposing secular standards on religious activities and properties.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told The Daily Universe she had no further comment regarding the Equality Act’s potential impact on BYU.