Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around Arizona are urging voter approval of Proposition 302, which would create a paid state holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Heading the group, which is not officially sanctioned by the church, was former Arizona Senate President Stan Turley, a Republican from Mesa."The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution were intended to place all citizens on an equal basis and prevent discrimination based on race," Turley said. "Because of the diligence of King and numerous civil rights workers, the principle is now well established that all citizens have equal rights before the law."
Committee members include Ray Russell, a former aide to ex-Gov. Evan Mecham. Mecham - who in 1987 rescinded an executive order that created a King holiday - has opposed a paid holiday honoring King.
Russell said, "The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and that there are no second class American citizens. This principle has been made more secure in America as a result of the broad-based civil rights movement led by King. I hope all Americans will join me in supporting civil rights and the passage of Proposition 302."
The group is called Members of the Mormon Church for Martin Luther King Jr.-Civil Rights Day Committee. Its chairman is Lamar Shelley of Mesa.
The committee included Mormon Church members from Gilbert, Mesa, Flagstaff, St. Johns, Eagar, Tempe, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Wickenburg, Chandler, Bisbee and Scottsdale.
While the group acted as individuals without church sanction, it noted that The Church of Jesus Christ for Latter-day Saints has included the holiday for its employees in the United States since it was adopted as a federal holiday. It also noted that the church-owned Brigham Young University observes the third Monday in January as "Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday."