LDS Church issues statement on same-sex marriage

Document praised, criticized by group of gay members

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 10 2008 12:29 a.m. MDT

The church has been criticized by those who say its opposition to same-sex marriage is tantamount to intolerance and that speaking against legal sanction of such unions is "hate speech."

The church document addresses those characterizations, saying "tolerance as a gospel principle means love and forgiveness of one another, not 'tolerating' transgression." It notes that "in today's secular world," tolerance has "come to mean condone — acceptance of wrongful behavior as the price of friendship. Jesus taught that we love and care for one another without condoning transgression ... tolerance does not require abandoning one's standard or one's opinions on political or public policy choices," it said.

It goes on to say that "speaking out against practices with which the church disagrees on moral grounds — including same-sex marriage — does not constitute abuse or the frequently misused term 'hate speech.' We can express genuine love and friendship for the homosexual family member or friend without accepting the practice of homosexuality or any re-definition of marriage."

The document said the church's opposition to same-sex marriage "neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect church members' obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people.

"As church members decide their own appropriate level of involvement in protecting marriage between a man and a woman, they should approach this issue with respect for others, understanding, honesty, and civility."

The bulk of the church's document outlines both the faith's moral reasoning and its concern for the potential legal consequences for families and children if same-sex marriage remains or becomes legal. The Affirmation release said the church's statement uses "half-truths and fear to paint a picture of gay marriage leading to an end of religious freedom and of societal standards."

Church officials declined further comment on the document.

Melson told the Deseret News since the body of the church's document had to do with Proposition 8, and "the introduction directly addressed gay issues in a manner much more straightforward and positive than the church has done before, it's hard not to think our actions didn't have some influence on that.

"The church has recognized this is an issue they need to deal with. I think they are starting to prepare the way for that day."

E-mail: carrie@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere