It looked like a stunning reversal: the same church that helped defeat gay marriage in California standing with gay-rights activists on an anti-discrimination law in its own backyard.
On Tuesday night, after a series of clandestine meetings between local gay-rights backers and Mormons in Salt Lake City, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would support proposed city laws that would prohibit discrimination against gays in housing and employment.
The ordinances passed and history was made: It marked the first time the Salt Lake City-based church had supported gay-rights legislation.
Michael Otterson, director of public affairs for the Mormon church, said Wednesday that church leaders were able to support the ordinance because it doesn't carve out special rights for gays.
Supporting "basic civil values," Otterson said, does not compromise the church's religious belief that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage poses a threat to traditional marriage.
"There are going to be gay advocates who don't think we've gone nearly far enough, and people very conservative who think we've gone too far," Otterson said. "The vast majority of people are between those polar extremes and we think that's going to resonate with people on the basis of fair-mindedness."
Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at the gay-rights group Human Rights Campaign, said the Mormon church's stand on the Salt Lake City ordinances could help alter the debate over gay rights.
"The church deserves credit, but that credit really comes because people have been pushing for it," Knox said. "It's not something thing they arrived at on their own and out of the goodness of their hearts."
The church's action is the latest sign of a softening among some conservative Christians toward offering some legal protections to gays. [...]
Interesting. Siding with "fair-mindedness", as seen by the "vast majority". Given their position on gay rights, their is a logic to their conclusion. This is a matter where it will be impossible to please everyone, and the middle path often leaves the extremes on both sides angry.