Mormons Testify Against Discrimination

Text of the testimony Doree Burt gave on behalf of MBB in support of the state-wide non discrimination bill while it was being considered by the Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee. 

“My name is Doree Burt. Thank you for letting me be here. I wrote my notes down to get through them in a good amount of time, so please excuse my lack of eye contact.

I have no titles, no credentials, but I wear my Eagle Scout mothers’ pins as jewelry, have flags of countries where my children have served and are currently serving LDS missions and maps indicating where their friends are as my home décor. Pretty much, Martha Stewart would be appalled. But these visuals show what I hold dear…family and devotion to acting on beliefs that we are all God’s children and He loves us all equally. Today I bring my Mormon mommy perspective, that’s it, which, I have learned, is very much in line with a lot of the other Mormon mommies I know and worship with.

I am also here as a representative of Mormons Building Bridges, and our over 2,300 members.

Mormons Building Bridges is happy to lend its support for legislation sponsored by Equality Utah that will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and/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 being discriminated against. Since then, many other municipalities including Logan (where I have lived for 15 years) have passed similar statutes. Passage of this latest bill will extend these protections to all Utahns.Mormons Building Bridges is an organization comprised primarily of active Latter Day Saints, devoted to reaching out to the LGBT community and making our congregations safe and welcoming for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Our religion teaches us the Golden Rule; securing basic housing and workplace rights for all our brothers and sisters puts that principle into action. We encourage you, our legislative leaders, to act on Jesus’ teaching to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In a Mormon congregation, we take care of each other’s spiritual and temporal needs. The church welfare program is well known, in fact world-renowned, for helping those who are struggling financially, but there is also often a ward housing chairman, or employment specialist. Imagine how disheartening it would be if your bishop has asked you to help a member find a job or a place to live and because that person is gay it is legal for employers or landlords to turn them away. Mormons Building Bridges is about making all our church programs safe and welcoming for LGBT people–passage of this bill will make it easier for members to address the temporal needs of all our members, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I imagine you wonder about broad-based support. My current church calling, or responsibility, is the YW President over the Cache Valley Area Special Needs Adult Mutual, which comprises about 17 stakes. Tonight we are hosting the most inspirational annual talent show ever. In notifying our advisers that I might be late and asking them to fill in handing out programs and such I told them where I would be, that I would be here tonight. Without exception, they were surprised that a person could be denied housing or employment and all expressed wishes for this non-discrimination bill to be passed. They all expressed support even when they weren’t asked.

As a religion and a state dedicated to families we nurture education and independence. Please support families by not taking away places for their children to work and live.

To end I’ll quote from an official website of my church. This is what it says:”Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbors. Whether sinner or saint, rich or poor, stranger or friend, everyone in God’s small world is our neighbor, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Latter-day Saints believe that our true commitment to Christian teachings is revealed by how we respond to this commandment. This love is tested every day of our lives. We may know individuals with same-sex attraction in our workplaces, congregations and town halls. As people with hopes, fears and aspirations like everyone else, these neighbors deserve our love.”

The words neighbor and workplaces are used in this official statement. Please vote to give all people equal access to those two things, being a neighbor and not being denied a workplace.
Thank you very much.”

Doree Burt, a life-long and active Mormon, is a mother of three who is from California and currently resides with her husband in Utah. She is a freelance writer; CASA Volunteer, working with neglected and abused children; a member of the Mormons Building Bridges Steering Committee; and a Utah State Delegate.

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