Senate Bill on Bias Against Gays Finds Support in Mormons


At nearly every critical juncture, the Senate bill that passed Thursday banning workplace discrimination because of gender identity and sexual orientation has had an unconventional and powerful ally.

Mormons, reflecting shifting attitudes inside their church, have stepped in to provide the political muscle, the additional momentum or the decisive vote. And more often than not, they were not just Mormons, but Republicans.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 64 to 32 with 10 Republicans joining, was a priority of Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, who, as the Mormon Church’s highest-ranking member in the government, put the nondiscrimination measure at the top of the Senate’s agenda once the government reopened last month. “People shouldn’t be able to fire them because of their sexual orientation any more than you can fire them if they’re Mormon,” Mr. Reid said Thursday in an interview.

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who at 79 is one of the Senate’s longest-serving members, became the first Republican to signal he would reverse his opposition as the bill faced a crucial vote in committee. He voted against a similar bill the last time it came up in the Senate — 17 years ago — but changed his mind earlier this year after Gordon H. Smith, a fellow Mormon and former Republican senator, convinced him there was nothing in it that violated church doctrine. “The church does want to be helpful where we can be, without violating our own conscience,” Mr. Smith, a former bishop, said in an interview.

Written By: Jeremy W. Peters
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  1. Wow, a thoughtful moment of clarity!

    “People shouldn’t be able to fire them because of their sexual orientation any more than you can fire them if they’re Mormon,” Mr. Reid said Thursday in an interview.

    Let’s hope it is not “one and done”.

  2. This was a nice puff piece from the NY Times giving good press to the Mormons. It neglects to mention that the Mormon church has been one of the strongest supporters of laws against gays. The anti-gay marriage proposition here in California about five years ago was very heavily funded by out of state money from the Mormon church and organizations dominated by Mormons.

    Also, don’t get your hopes up about this bill as rational as it is and as needed it is pretty much DOA. It doesn’t matter what happens in the Senate the Republicans have control of the house. John Boehner can prevent people from even voting on this, even if this might pass in the house — which I doubt it would — he could prevent it from ever getting a vote anyway. They have used similar tactics in the past to block bills that had overwhelming support from the American public, e.g. minor gun law reform after various shooting massacres.

  3. The Mormons are unusual. All that has to happen for church doctrine to change is for one man to declare he has had a vision. This happened when the Mormons saw the rest of the world would not tolerate their racist discrimination against blacks. You would think the pope could do the same thing, but he never does.

    The Mormons are a fairly new religion. Their beliefs have changed many times. I guess they are not quite as set is stone yet.

    Utah is the only state I have visited where police officers are trim and fit. I presume this is the result of a Mormon-demanded lifestyle. I hope they put out a shirtless calendar.

  4. Not only in California but also in Arizona Mormons were told to vote against a bill legalizing gay marriage in that state.

  5. Why would the Democrats float such a bill knowing the Republicans in the house would shoot it down in a volley of colourful, insane bigotry?

    The Republicans every once in a while claim to be pro gay. I met a gay black man who joined the party. His reasoning is they would need him as a showpiece and he would become richer than he otherwise would.

    The Democrats have been weak on gay marriage. This gambit should prove that the Republicans are much worse.

  6. Well well, what do yer know! That’s a turn-up for the books.

    Not incorrigible after all?

    Or is the fragrance of votes in the air?

    What cynic I’ve become.

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