Should politicians heed their prophet or pope?

One day he's dissing gay activists as immoral "buggers" and perhaps the "greatest threat" to the nation. Then, he's embracing anti-discrimination legislation and conceding the "right" gay residents have to job and housing protections.

What swayed state Sen. Chris Buttars?

His church.

In November, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its support of Salt Lake City's measures safeguarding gay and transgender residents from discrimination.

Suddenly, Buttars, R-West Jordan, and his Mormon colleagues on the right who had vigorously -- and vociferously -- opposed such laws faced a choice: Should they back or buck their church?

This same "follow the prophet" pressure gripped LDS liberals when the Utah-based church came out in favor of California's Proposition 8, defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. For Latter-day Saints, adherence to their prophet's instructions is more than an abstract notion. It is repeated often from the pulpit and written into the Mormon identity.

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