About 50 people gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday for a Faithful Latter-Day Saints Rally in Support of Nondiscrimination, backing a failed bill that would have provided statewide employment and housing protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns.
Steven Goates, a Brigham Young University chemistry professor, told the crowd that he has known many students who struggled with their sexual orientation.
“A nondiscrimination bill is important,” Goates said. “Christ was condemned by the Pharisees ... we ought to love one another.”
Many of those who attended were from Provo or had heard about the rally on Facebook. James Estrada, along with his son, Joah, who rode along in a stroller, said, “I feel like it’s important to treat everyone equally and to stand up for that principle.”
Many of the attendees said they also will attend a rally planned for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m at the Capitol, organized by Equality Utah and Mormons Building Bridges. Equality Utah is among the supporters who have pushed for a statewide antidiscrimination law.
SB262 was modeled after ordinances in Salt Lake City and other Utah municipalities that prohibit housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It passed a Senate committee — for the first time in five years of trying — but died Monday.
Dustin Butcher of Salt Lake City said he had decided to attend Tuesday’s rally because he is gay, was raised as a Mormon and believes in some of the ideas professed by the website Mormonsandgays.org, which was created by The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints.
He pointed to this passage: “As people with hopes, fears and aspirations like everyone else, these neighbors deserve our love.”
“I really want to see support from the church and everyone else,” Butcher said. “It’s a human-rights matter, not a Bible issue. There’s so many things in there that are out of context with the time we’re in now. There are people who will come from the church and are putting their love into the rally.”
Equality Utah is asking citizens who have historically faced discrimination, such as Mormons, on Wednesday “to stand together and say, we too have been there, we were able to change it, even though it took a long time, and we are standing with the LGBT community as they work to abolish legal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to its Facebook page.