Surprising

Salt Lake Mormons Back Gay Rights

Gay residents of Utah just got a boost from an unlikely group—the Mormon Church. After the Utah-based church backed proposed Salt Lake City ordinances that would bar housing and employment discrimination against gays—and the city laws passed unanimously Tuesday night. The new rules make Salt Lake City the first community in Utah to make it illegal to fire or evict someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Mormon Church’s backing could have far-reaching effects in this conservative state where 80 percent of lawmakers and governors belong to the church. A spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emphasized that the endorsement doesn't change the church's stance against gay marriage. "The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage," he said.