Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Andrew Callahan, front right, and Peter Danzig, backed by other opponents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' involvement in a California ballot issue, deliver 300 letters and a signed petition to Kim Farah, a public affairs representative at church headquarters in Salt Lake City.<BR>

About 30 people who oppose the LDS Church's efforts against the legalization of gay marriage in California delivered hundreds of letters and a signed petition to a church spokeswoman at the faith's headquarters on Friday, asking that top leaders read about their concerns.

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah met the group, which included families with small children and some carrying signs, outside the Church Office Building and accepted the materials on behalf of the church. The group sang quietly as it walked toward the building about 2 p.m.

They delivered several bundles containing copies of about 300 letters and a petition with more than 600 signatures, with spokesperson Andrew Callahan telling Farah that some LDS Church members are having "a crisis of conscience" when their faith takes political action against something they value and asks its members to do the same.

Farah gave a prepared statement in response, saying the church wants to emphasize four points:

• The church understands there are some who feel differently about gay marriage, which "affects individuals in very private and personal ways. As a religious institution, the church has a moral obligation to raise its voice on issues like this that affect society deeply."

• An "expression of appreciation to hundreds of thousands of LDS members in California that have joined in support of Proposition 8," a ballot measure that would make gay marriage illegal.

• The issue is important to both the LDS Church and other churches within the interfaith coalition supporting Proposition 8. As it has in the past, "the church will continue in the future to speak out on the importance of traditional marriage."

• The church does not endorse individual candidates or political parties. "But it does have every right as a religious faith to raise a moral voice on what may be one of the most important issues of our time. We feel it's our duty as a church to speak out on issues of such great importance."

Callahan said the letters represent "hope for a safe space" to discuss the issue. Bunches of carnations that were delivered with the letters "represent the lives that have been lost over this issue," he said, referring to church members or former members who have taken their own lives.