Utahns call for civility in contentious same-sex marriage debate

Published: Saturday, Jan. 11 2014 5:10 p.m. MST

"Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution," the statement said.

Jenet Erickson, a family science researcher who supports traditional marriage, said more could be done to understand the feelings and experiences of people on both sides of the debate.

"What engenders respect for people is understanding them," she said.

Erickson, who has taught at BYU, and her husband, Michael, have periodically written about marriage. She said he insisted they read a book about gay people before writing a word.

"We only have part of the truth until we can understand, walk in their shoes," she said. "That's what's hard, the camps are so separated from each other."

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt said both sides need to be respectful of the other as society wrestles with the marriage question. People who have religious views about marriage and those who don't must find a way to coexist, he said.

"We're at a point right now where, believers, because the culture has begun to move on this, are in some ways being retaliated against because of their views, and that's wrong," he said. "In the same way, it's wrong for believers to discriminate or retaliate against those who have a non-traditional view of marriage."

Frank Pignanelli, a former Democratic state lawmaker, said it's really a time for sensitivity on both sides.

"It may be years before this thing is addresses and resolved," he said. "Instead of making people uncomfortable over this, let's go back to where we need to go and establish a basis for common ideals. No one wants discrimination to happen. No one wants people to be isolated because of their sexual orientation."

Pignanelli, a Deseret News columnist, said there can be civil dialogue, but it needs give and take on both sides.

Contributing: Robert Trishman

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere