According to the Tribune, just minutes before the LDS Church's statement of support for the ordinances, the Sutherland Institute's Jeff Reynolds told reporters rumors of the church's support were both ridiculous and a glaring case of "journalistic fraud." The church, Reynolds said, simply would proclaim non-opposition to the ordinances.
Then Church spokesman Michael Otterson strode to the lectern to deliver the bombshell. You can read his complete testimony HERE. Shortly thereafter, Reynolds scrambled to write a response that showed up two hours later. Blindsided by the news, Sutherland nonetheless reiterated its call for the legislature to kill the ordinances, which outlaw firing or eviction in Utah's capital based on a person being gay or transgender, but expressed their opposition without attacking the Church in the process. Their complete statement is cross-posted below:
The LDS Church, like all religions in Utah, has a vital role to play in making Utah a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Sutherland's important role is to help elected officials craft sound, principle-based public policy toward that same end. We recognize the growing differences between religious and secular cultures within Salt Lake City and commend the LDS Church for its earnest desire to keep cultural and political tensions to a minimum.
As a public relations opportunity, the LDS Church's statement before the Salt Lake City Council may assuage the minds and soften the hearts of advocates of "gay rights" in Utah. As a policy statement, it is problematic. The approved ordinances before the Salt Lake City Council are unsound in principle, clarity, and effect.
We have learned from California and other states that the meaning of marriage will die by a thousand cuts. Each new inclusion in the law of such vague terms as "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" represents a mounting threat to the meaning of marriage. Of course, each one, singly and in isolation, does no violence to the meaning of marriage. However, the legal debate is far ahead of such parochial analysis. Unfortunately, homosexual activists seeking to redefine the meaning of marriage - as well as activist courts seeking to do the same - do not view these types of ordinances singly or in isolation but as a pattern of public opinion to justify radical changes to law as we saw in California.
As we have stated previously, we hold that the approved ordinances are vague, dangerously broad, and unjust to the parties they seek to regulate.
We, once again, call on the Utah State Legislature to overturn these local ordinances on the basis of sound public policy.
The possibility that the legislature might overturn the ordinances still exists, since most of the Republican majority are LDS. But that possibility has been mitigated somewhat by the Church's statement; even hard-line social conservative Senator Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan) said he would not initiate legislation to override the ordinances.
It should be noted that the LDS Church firmly reiterated its commitment to the bedrock definition of marriage being limited to one man and one woman. The LDS Church has also not changed its membership criteria for gays; homosexual orientation is O.K., but homosexual practice is actionable. Nevertheless, the slippery slope concerns of the Sutherland Institute are valid; already, in the wake of the LDS Church statement, Salt Lake County, Park City, and even Southern Utah University in Cedar City are discussing possible gay nondiscrimination legislation.
A big hat tip to the Sutherland Institute for remaining true to its pro-family principles and refusing to compromise merely to get any political "Scooby snacks" from the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. And another hat tip for not attacking the LDS Church in their response. I believe the LDS Church is sincere in their intent to remain faithful to the existing definition of marriage, and that their concern about nondiscrimination is merely motivated by civil rights rather than a precursor of any more "bombshells" to come.
The Sutherland Institute is a Utah-based public policy research organization supporting limited government, private property rights, and personal responsibility. It has no official connection with the LDS Church.