US state of Utah under spotlight over gay rights

Jocelyne Zablit | AFP | Yahoo News | November 18, 2015

Los Angeles (AFP) – The conservative US state of Utah, home to the influential Mormon church, has come under the national spotlight in recent days over its treatment of gays, earning both praise and condemnation.

The capital Salt Lake City grabbed headlines on Wednesday for electing Jackie Biskupski, its first openly gay mayor, in a vote hailed as historic by gay rights groups.

But at the same time, two recent decisions concerning same-sex couples — one by the Mormon church, which is based in Salt Lake City, and one by a judge — have prompted an uproar and raised concerns that Utah was backtracking on small strides toward acceptance of the LGBT community.

In the first case, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — as the Mormon church is formally known — earlier this month declared that children of gay couples cannot be blessed as babies or baptized until they turn 18.

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