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LDS leaders reemphasize protection of religious freedoms, support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws
By Tad Walch Updated - January 27th, 2015 @ 10:22am

SALT LAKE CITY — Senior LDS leaders reiterated Tuesday the church’s longstanding support for laws that ensure fair access to housing and employment for LGBT people while safeguarding religious freedom.

Three apostles and one of the faith's women's leaders, (Niell F. Marriot) clearly outlined the position at a landmark news conference. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called for governments to seek balance when considering nondiscrimination laws.

"Today, state legislatures across the nation are being asked to strengthen laws related to LGBT issues in the interest of ensuring fair access to housing and employment," he said. "The leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on record as favoring such measures. At the same time, we urgently need laws that protect religions against discrimination and retaliation while claiming the core rights of free expression and religious practice that are at the heart of our identity as a nation and our legacy as citizens."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said the highest level of statesmanship will be needed to accommodate the rights of all people.

"Rights are best guarded," he said, "when each person and group guards for others those rights they wish guarded for themselves."

Most of American society recognizes that "such basic human rights as securing a job or a place to live should not depend on a person's sexual orientation," said Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the church's Young Women General Presidency.

Another of the Twelve Apostles, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, introduced the speakers at the briefing. The church rarely holds news conferences with senior leaders outside of the semiannual general conference weekends in April or October, and those briefings seldom include more than two apostles.

The position outlined Tuesday is consistent with previous statements and actions by church leaders.

The church publicly supported nondiscrimination ordinances in Salt Lake City in 2009. Church spokesman Michael Otterson delivered an official church statement before the Salt Lake City Council that said the ordinances provided "common-sense rights" for LGBT people against discrimination in housing and employment while balancing the "crucial" rights of religious organizations.

"They are also," Otterson said then, "entirely consistent with the church’s prior position on these matters."