SALT LAKE CITY — One of the former top lobbyists for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has joined the board of directors for a support group for LGBT Mormons.
In a statement Thursday, the group “Affirmation” announced Bill Evans, who retired as a lobbyist for the LDS Church, was joining its board. He is joined by therapist Laura Skaggs Dulin and Justis Tuia, an activist and diversity consultant.
“Bill served in the Public Affairs department of the LDS Church for decades, and through his work to bring into being the Salt Lake anti-discrimination ordinance has grown into an extraordinary ally of the LGBT Mormon community,” Affirmation president John Gustav-Wrathall said in the statement.
Affirmation described Evans as a “straight ally” of the LGBT Mormon community, who worked with gay rights activists to craft Salt Lake City’s non-discrimination ordinance.
“He was astonished by the graciousness of those activists toward him even after acknowledging his role in the LDS Church’s Prop 8 campaign,” the group said. “Shortly thereafter, Bill was instrumental in opening up a dialog between Affirmation and the LDS Church, and was moved by the desire of the Affirmation leadership to foster a positive relationship.”
Affirmation said that since retiring from LDS Church Public Affairs, Evans has been working on homeless youth issues in Utah.
“The grace and openness consistently shown me by members of the LGBT community were part of a transformative journey for me. I am grateful for and honored by this invitation to enter into deeper service with that community on the Board of Affirmation,” Evans said in the statement released by the group.
The LDS Church has been both the subject of praise and scorn of gay rights groups. It was instrumental in persuading the Utah State Legislature to pass a non-discrimination law for LGBT people in housing and employment. The church’s opposition to same-sex marriage, hate crimes legislation, and recent policies on the children of gay parents have sparked protests.