LDS, Catholic and other religious leaders react to DOMA, Prop 8 Supreme Court rulings

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 12:20 p.m. MDT

This June 24, 2013 file photo shows people waiting outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — In a statement issued within hours of the Supreme Court’s announced rulings on two issues relating to same-sex marriage, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reconfirmed the church’s commitment to traditional marriage between a man and a woman while expressing concerns about the decisions.

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates,” said LDS spokesman Michael Otterson. “Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.”

Otterson added that “the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.”

Nonetheless, Otterson noted that "the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

“Regardless of the court decision,” Otterson continued, “the (LDS) church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children."

The Most Reverend John C. Wester, Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City, called the Supreme Court decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act “disappointing.”

“While civil law establishes societal standards of conduct, we must also consider the natural law, moral law and divine revelation,” Bishop Wester said. “It is from these fonts of wisdom and grace that we Catholics understand that marriage between one man and one woman is a gift to humanity. The blessings of such a marriage cannot be legislated, litigated or changed by civil authorities.

“I acknowledge that there are those who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage and that their lives are affected by such decisions as made today by the Supreme Court,” Bishop Wester continued. “At the same time, I affirm that marriage is a sacred and precious gift to humankind, a gift that is inviolable and unalterable, given to us by the Creator for the good of the individual, the family and the fulfillment of human beings, all of whom are created in God’s image and likeness.”

While a broad swath of churches were actively involved in the 2008 campaign to pass California's Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to certify that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," the Catholic and LDS churches were most often singled out by proposition opponents for their support of the amendment, and both churches have experienced some backlash as a result. However, a March article in the Washington Post suggested that the primary reason the measure passed was that "many largely black churches supported Prop. 8 while Hispanics, a heavily Catholic community, were more naturally inclined to side with their faith — and against gay marriage."

Other religious spokespeople echoed the LDS and Catholic concerns. “Today is a devastating day for traditional marriage and religious freedom,” said Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land. “Defining marriage for the American people is way above the Supreme Court’s pay grade. God created marriage and he has defined its parameters, regardless of what the majority of Supreme Court justices might think.”

“We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country — a country that was founded on biblical principles,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the religiously oriented American Family Association. “We mourn for America’s future, but we are not without hope.”

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