The Church of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormons, has put its support behind laws granting protections to GLBT people.
The Salt Lake City ordinances make it illegal for a person to be fired from their job or evicted from their home for reasons of sexuality or transgender identity.
“The issues before you tonight are the right of people to have a roof over their heads and the right to work without being discriminated against,” a spokesman for the church, Michael Otterson, told Salt Lake City Council.
“The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage.”
GLBT rights group Equality Utah praised the decision, as did Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black who grew up in a Mormon home.
“I’m thrilled. To a lot of people it seems like a little thing because it’s not full acceptance,” Black told CNN.
“But if you’re in the church, if you know that church, you can see that it’s a signal … to the entire population saying that it’s not OK to discriminate any more.”
The Mormons still maintain gays and lesbians must be celibate in order to remain faithful members of the church.
Groups including the Foundation for Reconciliation, representing heterosexual Mormons who support GLBT rights, lobbied the church and lawmakers after the church’s involvement in the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California, donating considerable funds to the campaign.
The Foundation met with Utah’s Mormon Governor, Gary Herbert, last year and hopes to see similar anti-discrimination laws throughout the state.
American GLBT rights group the Human Rights Campaign welcomed the change.
“This has happened in the LDS Church because people are telling their clergy leaders they believe the church should be about lifting people up, not pushing them down,” HRC religious programs director Harry Knox said.
“This decision is the result of vocal and consistent advocacy by LGBT people, their family and friends, inside and outside the LDS Church.
“Employment and housing protections for LGBT people are fully embraced by mainstream America and the LDS Church is simply coming into the fold. We hope the LDS Church will commit the same level of resources to ensuring full employment protection to everyone as it did to deny marriage equality to loving same-sex couples in California.”

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