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Calls for civility accompany same-sex marriage action

Published: Monday, Oct. 6 2014 11:15 a.m. MDT

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes speak Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, to members of the media at the state Capitol after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals on lower court rulings that allowed same-sex marriages, making them legal in Utah and other states.

Scott G Winterton, ©Scott G Winterton/Deseret News 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Reaction to Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear the state's appeal of a lower-court ruling allowing same-sex marriage included concern, celebration and calls for civility.

A weekend address by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the church's semiannual general conference was often cited Monday as those on both sides of the issue weighed in.

Elder Oaks referred to "the strong tide that is legalizing same-sex marriage" and called for followers to "learn to live peacefully with others who do not share their values or accept the teachings upon which they are based.”

When the church's "positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries,” he said, urging supporters of those positions not to be contentious.

“We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious," Elder Oaks said.

State Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon brought up the conference address in expressing his support for the court's decision.

"Today's decision acknowledges what Utahns have always known — families come in all shapes and sizes. All families are unique, have dignity and deserve equal protection under the law," Corroon said.

"This message," he said, "echoes statements delivered during this weekend's LDS conference — that everyone deserves respect, regardless of differing opinion on this emotional subject."

The state Democratic Party "also supports the Supreme Court's decision to protect both individual and religious liberties, meaning no church or religious organization will be compelled to an act that is against their beliefs," Corroon said.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake, a former state Democratic Party chairman, also referred to Elder Oaks' address, saying the LDS Church leader's words "heartened" the state's LGBT community.

"It is in that spirit of civility, cooperation and respect for diversity that we as Utahns should seek to move forward together and build an even greater state," Dabakis said.

He said the high court's decision allows lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families "to no longer be second-class families. This is good for them and for Utah. Equality and fairness have always been Utah values."

Dabakis and his longtime partner were among the same-sex couples who married after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's December ruling that overturned a voter-approved amendment to the Utah Constitution that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Shelby's ruling was stayed about two weeks later and the status of the same-sex marriages performed were put on hold by the state pending the appeal. On Monday, the stay was lifted and same-sex marriage was again legal in Utah.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who officiated at Dabakis' and other same-sex weddings immediately after Shelby's ruling, celebrated the Supreme Court's decision.

"Today is a historic day for equal rights in Utah. I wish to congratulate all of the married couples in Salt Lake City who will now have their relationships legally recognized. This is a momentous occasion for civil rights in our state and nation," Becker said.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said every legally married family will be treated equally by county government.

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