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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Jason Conner, co-director of the Equality Ride, talks to the media prior to the group having a meeting with LDS Church officials at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. The LGBT group known as Soulforce is sponsoring a national Equality Ride and arranged a meeting with LDS Church PR Monday, April 23, 2012.

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    Representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met Monday morning with leaders of the Soulforce Equality Ride, a national bus tour aimed at "promoting acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and allied people."

    LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed the meeting took place but didn't comment on the specifics.

    Jason Conner, co-director of the Equality Ride and director of programs for Soulforce, said he is "cautiously optimistic" the morning session represents "a really good first step" in discussions between the Soulforce and the LDS Church. Soulforce is, according to its website, "committed to freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people from religious and political oppression through relentless nonviolent resistance."

    "We are disappointed that leaders of the church didn't sit at the table with us, but the people we met with were great," Conner said of the meeting, which was hosted by members of LDS Church's Public Affairs Department. "They listened to our concerns. We talked about some very important things."

    Prior to the meeting, Soulforce indicated its agenda for the meeting included concerns about Evergreen International, an independent organization that "sustains the doctrines and standards" of the LDS Church in its work to assist those who wish to overcome homosexual behavior and diminish same-sex attraction; the church's political efforts with regard to same-sex marriage; and the church's human resources policies about non-discrimination in church employment and at LDS Business College.

    "We addressed each of these issues," Conner said, noting that the non-discrimination policy received a lot of attention during the meeting. "We feel that there are some places where there is a difference between what the church has said and what it is doing. We want to be able to talk about that."

    Conner said both sides were interested in talking about language, and how important language can be in framing discussions and behaviors.

    While no specific agreements were reached, Conner said they did talk about a time frame for follow-up discussions.

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