A Call for an Inclusive Zion Community

Address given March 13 at the Equality Utah rally on the steps of the Utah Capitol.

My name is Berta Marquez and I’m here to say that it is our shared story that brings us together today. You see I consider myself a quinfecta of sympathies for today’s cause – I am Latina, female, political refugee, gay, and Mormon. I also stand here as a representative of Mormons Building Bridges, a group of over 2,300 individuals from the Mormon faith tradition who are devoted to reaching out to the LGBT community and making our congregations safe and welcoming for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters.

In Mormons Building Bridges, we believe that all these divergent stories – particularly as Mormons and LGBT people – can really be one shared story. As many of you know, the Mormon story, in the political history of the United States, has gone from one of persecution to power. Where once we were driven from our homes and livelihoods by government decree, we now stand in the wake of a presidential election where one of our own was poised to succeed to the most powerful seat in the land. As Mormons we can decide how that story continues. Will we share that story, that power and legal protection, with our LGBT sisters and brothers?

As Mormons Building Bridges we give an resounding YES. For we believe that it is our very faith and doctrine that urge us to build a Zion people – the Beloved Community – where there are no more foreigners or strangers among us and all are alike unto God – where we share our collective strengths by providing for the physical and spiritual welfare of our fellow citizens and saints – particularly the most vulnerable among us. In this spirit, Mormons Building Bridges is happy to be here and celebrate the progress made during the 2013 legislative session and pledges to continue to lend its support for legislation that will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing and employment. In 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was instrumental in the passage of the Salt Lake City municipal ordinance that guaranteed LGBT people the right to work and have a roof over their heads without fear of discrimination. In the spirit of that endorsement from our church, Mormons Building Bridges believes that a state-wide ordinance that secures these same basic housing and workplace rights for all our brothers and sisters is in keeping with the values and morals taught in our faith. We applaud the legislators who sponsored and supported the bill this year and look forward to continued progress next year.

To our fellow Mormons or those of other religions who may feel that their faith compels them to oppose this legislation, we say to you, we understand and even empathize with the challenging questions and uncertainty this legislation poses. We pledge to reach out to you in love and dialogue over the next year, and hope to be a resource for understanding and conversation about this deeply important issue. Finally, we strongly encourage all to ponder this issue carefully and consider the idea that we all have a stake in where our our shared story will lead – we at Mormons Building Bridges have faith that it will lead us all to that Zion people – the Beloved Community, where all are protected because we abide by Jesus’ teaching to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Thank you.

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