Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

The line between practicing tolerance and concession is a difficult one to walk. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has attempted to extend an olive branch the LGBT community in Utah by helping to craft anti-discrimination legislation specifically designed to protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians in the state. The intentions are certainly noble, but the bill is lacking in certain areas. For instance, although the bill offers protections for the beliefs of businesses with 15 or fewer employees, it does not extend to larger employers. On a larger scale, though, the church's mere participation with the bill now serves to solidify terms such as “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as legitimate classifications not only in the legal realm, but also puts them in play on the religious side of the issue. Many churches which have attempted to extend compassion have faltered in their beliefs entirely. Plus, by the church appearing to give legitimacy to these terms, they also create the impression they have legitimacy in the culture-at-large. Tolerance and compassion are virtues to be strived for, but this legislation introduces a slippery slope which could lead to unintended consequences. While the church should be applauded for at least facing these difficult issues, its method here has probably crossed that delicate line.