Religious unity: Los Angeles gathers faith leaders to make peace over Prop 8, other volatile issues

Published: Saturday, March 16 2013 12:50 p.m. MDT

But Gilliland said she came away from the experience "empowered" by having been heard and with a better understanding of how others felt about the issue.

Cultivating the ground

While participants agreed the dialogues fostered understanding and a willingness to collaborate, Silyan-Saba said the exercise would be fruitless if it didn't go beyond the group they invited to participate. So, they agreed to reconvene last year and film their dialogue as a demonstration of how people can talk honestly, yet civilly about differences of opinion.

They hope the video posted on the BeyondProp8 website and the participants sharing it with their congregations will convince others to sit down with opponents and lead to launching their own interfaith projects within the city.

Thomas and Gilliland said they are discussing working together on service to the homeless.

"To have Mormons working side-by-side with LGBT people to provide for something beyond our political views moves us to a new place in our relationship," Thomas said. "If something like (Proposition 8) came up again it would be easier for us to sit at the table and say, 'What can we do together so we don't do what we did back in 2008?'"

That discussion may happen as early as June when the high court is expected to rule on the constitutionality California's marriage amendment.

But Silyan-Saba said the Way to Openness can be more than just a way to smooth over differences on same-sex marriage.

"We are providing a model of dialogue that you could utilize on any other issue — immigration, gun control," she said. "We are cultivating the ground and giving people the tool to engage in these conversations and talk about these very heated issues regardless of the decision in June."

EMAIL: mbrown@deseretnews.com

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