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Mormons Building Bridges lobbies for protecting gays from bias

Published February 22, 2013 10:03 am

Proposal would help LGBT community facing employment and housing discrimination.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mormons Building Bridges on Tuesday announced its support for a statewide nondiscrimination policy for gay Utahns.

The loosely formed group, which garnered media attention when members marched in last year's Utah Pride Festival, has more than 2,364 members on the group's Facebook page —one place where the organization posted its support for a nondiscrimination policy.

"Mormons Building Bridges is an organization devoted to reaching out to the LGBT community and making our congregations safe and welcoming for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered [LGBT] people," the group's statement on Facebook reads.

Currently, 17 Utah municipalities have a nondiscrimination LGBT policy in regards to employment and/or housing, according to Equality Utah, a non-profit devoted to civil rights issues.

And for the past five years, LGBT advocates have tried to lobby for a similar policy to be passed in the state legislature. Despite strong support in public polls and endorsements from prominent business leaders, the effort died last year in a state Senate committee.

Certain groups have endorsed the effort, such as the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, and business executives from Ancestry.com, 1-800-Contacts and eBay. Other conservative groups, including the Utah Eagle Forum, oppose the measure.

Recently, attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been in quiet discussions with LGBT leaders, trying to hammer out language for a statewide ban on housing and employment discrimination that the church could support.

The Church's communication office did not comment Tuesday on the issue.

In the past two years, Equality Utah has been working with cities and counties across the state to pass nondiscrimination ordinances that protect LGBT Utahns from employment and housing discrimination.

" We see the statement of support for statewide workplace and housing nondiscrimination amendments as a clear demonstration that these protections reflect the common values of most Utahns," Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, said in a statement.

Balken said the employment and housing nondiscrimination bill is expected to come up Friday or Monday, where it could be moved into a standing Senate committee the following week, and then to the full floor of the Senate. Afterward, it would move to the House, where the process would begin again.

rparker@sltrib.com

Twitter: @rayutah —

Nondiscrimination policies in place

Cities:

Salt Lake City

Park City

Taylorsville

West Valley City

Murray

Midvale

Moab

Ogden

Logan

Alta

Harrisville

Springdale

Counties:

Salt Lake County

Summit County

Grand County