A national civil rights group for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has launched a national letter writing and e-mail campaign calling on the Mormon church to publicly support equality legislation in Utah.
The two-step lobbying effort by the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign began Dec. 12 with a letter from HRC President Joe Solmonese to Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That was followed this week with an e-mail from HRC board member and Utahn Bruce Bastian asking the 750,000-plus HRC members to contact the church.
In his letter, Solmonese said Monson can lend "credibility and force" to a November church statement that it does not oppose civil unions or some non-marriage legal rights for same sex-couples.
"While we will always be in opposing camps regarding marriage equality under the law, I ask that you now join our community in supporting legislative change in Utah that offer(s) real protections to LGBT citizens and families," Solmonese wrote.
Five bills that propose equal treatment or establish legal protections for the LGBT community are expected to come before the Utah Legislature for consideration during the session that begins in January.
Three of the bills address equity in employment, housing, hospitalization, medical care or probate rights. A fourth would establish a domestic partner registry and a fifth would repeal part of a constitutional amendment that defines marriage.
The church declined comment when the bill proposals were announced last month by the gay rights organization Equality Utah.
In an e-mail Thursday, church spokeswoman Kim Farah also declined to comment on the HRC letter.
Utah has banned gay marriage in its constitution and previous attempts to pass equality legislation have failed.
Since the ]prop 8] vote, Mormon church buildings have been picketed or targeted for vandalism and the church has been denounced by many as bigoted.
Church leaders rejected the label in a postelection day statement posted on its Web site, saying it "does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches."
As of Thursday morning, tracking by HRC staff showed nearly 26,000 members had used a link on the organization Web site to send a letter to Monson through several public e-mail addresses listed for the church, HRC spokesman Trevor Thomas said. The group is able to track the number because the e-mails are essentially being sent from HRC's server, he said.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Gay rights group calls for Mormon Church support
Excerpts from Gay rights group calls for Mormon Church support by JENNIFER DOBNER of the Associated Press