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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 20, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 16
National 'Equality Ride Young Activists to Meet With Officials from the LDS (Mormon) Church
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National 'Equality Ride Young Activists to Meet With Officials from the LDS (Mormon) Church

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Social Justice Bus Tour to Bring Message of Acceptance to Salt Lake City Area

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - Today, Soulforces 'Equality Ride' - a national social justice bus tour promoting acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and allied people to discriminatory evangelical colleges and universities - announced that the group will be meeting with officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon). The meeting is set to take place on Monday, April 23 from 10am-12pm.

Soulforce sent a letter addressed to the First Presidency and Quorom of the Twelve in early March requesting a meeting. The letter laid out four calls to action the group wished to discuss:

Cut all ties with and denounce the group Evergreen International (and any other anti-LGBT group that supports dangerous "therapy" practices). Evergreen's practices are not in accordance with church policies surrounding LGBTQ individuals. The church cannot say it no longer supports "ex-gay" or "reparative" therapy while sending General Authorities to speak at Evergreen events.

Stop funding anti-LGBTQ groups that are fighting against civil marriage equality across the country, and stop encouraging your members to fund these groups. Civil marriage is a secular issue that does not affect the Church or inhibit the Church from refusing to accept or perform same gender marriages. The civil recognition of a same gender marriage in no way weakens the marriages or family bonds of members of the Church. Encourage LDS Business College to update their policies around LGBTQ individuals so that they are in accordance with current Church teachings.

Add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to your current non-discrimination/anti-harassment policy for church employees and volunteers. According to your own teachings LGBTQ individuals can be healthy and active members of the church. These individuals deserve the same protections and rights of other employees. They deserve a work environment free of bullying and shaming.

The church declined to allow the group to meet with any key members of leadership, including representatives from the First Presidency and Qourum of the Twelve, to whom the letter was addressed. Through weeks of negotiations however, the church agreed to provide members of their PR and public policy teams for the meeting.

'Im so disheartened that the leaders of my church refuse to meet with me,' said Robert Moore, a Mormon 'Equality Rider' who is organizing the Salt Lake City stop. 'I am a member of this church, and because I am gay my leaders apparently find me so revolting they refuse to be in the same room as me. It just makes me realize how important it is to have this dialogue.'

The Soulforce 'Equality Ride' hopes to engage in dialogue with the church about ways it can be more inclusive of LGBTQ people and their allies.

'There is such a culture of silence around LGBTQ identities within the church. It is so oppresive,' stated Jason Conner, co-director of this years 'Equality Ride' and a former member of the LDS church. 'These issues are so important to me because I was forced into church sponsored ex-gay therapy while on my mission, and it was a harmful experience. Young LGBTQ people are taking their lives at an alarming rate, and LDS young people are doing so at an even higher rate. I firmly believe this is happening because of the oppressive nature of the policies and messages coming from Church leaders. It is important for this conversation to happen, and it is even more important for members of the church to know it is happening, to end the silence.'

The Equality Riders will also be attending the weekly broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and taking a special tour of Temple Square. On the 'Equality Rides' last visit in 2007 they were banned from stepping onto any church property. To see other Equality Ride events happening in the Slat Lake City area please visit: http://www.soulforce.org/equalityride/2012-salt-lake-city/

For additional information on the Salt Lake City events and the 'Equality Ride,' or to schedule an interview with one of the 'Equality Riders,' please contact Makenzie Marineau, Luna Media Group, at makenzie@lunamediagroup.com or 541-404-0033 (cell).

Soulforces purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information, go to http://www.equalityride.com or www.soulforce.org. 'Like' Soulforce on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/SoulforceOrganization, or follow the organization on Twitter at @soulforceorg.

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