SCOTT SPRINGS, Utah (AP) — On Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced their support for federal legislation to protect same-sex marriages, making them the latest conservative group to do so.
The nearly 17-million-strong faith-based in Utah said in a statement that same-sex relationships would continue to be viewed as contrary to church doctrine.
Nonetheless, it affirmed that it would back same-sex couples’ rights so long as they did not conflict with the freedom of religion.
We think this strategy is the best one going forward. The church said in a statement on its website, “Much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding as we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
The church has taken another step toward a more inclusive stance toward the LGBTQ community by voicing support for the Respect for Marriage Act currently being considered in Congress. However, many Christians, especially those who grew up in the church, still feel hurt by its stance toward LGBTQ people.
Professor of religious studies at Utah State University Patrick Mason described the church’s stance as “a departure from and a continuation of its past stances,
” in that, they respect the law but work to protect religious freedom, and make sure they aren’t compelled to perform same-sex marriages or give official church sanction to them.
Church leaders “recognize that what they dictate and enforce for their members in terms of their behavior is different than what it means to be part of a pluralistic society,” he explained, and this is why they support the law of the land as part of their theology.
The religion has become more accepting of LGBTQ people in recent years, despite its long-held opposition to same-sex marriage and sexual intimacy. While it acknowledged that same-sex attraction is not a sin, it insisted that acting on that attraction was.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, will be put to a test vote in the Senate on Wednesday, with a final vote expected later this week or early next month. After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion suggesting that a previous high court decision protecting same-sex marriage could be threatened.
The LDS Church Has Come Out In Favor Of A Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage
On Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its support for legislation that would guarantee legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
After a group of senators unveiled a deal that included updated language to assuage GOP members on religious liberty concerns, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has set up a vote on the bill, known as the Respect for Marriage Act, for this week.
“The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints related to marriage between a man and a woman is well known and will remain unchanged,” the church declared.
Further, “we are grateful for the ongoing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” the statement read. We think this is the best way to move forward.
In 2008, the church gave a lot of support to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which sought to prevent officials from issuing same-sex marriage licenses by requiring the state to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman.
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Five senators, including Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), signaled on Monday that they had enough votes to break the Senate filibuster by releasing an updated version of the Respect for Marriage Act.
Despite The Mormon Church’s Apparent Endorsement Of Same-Sex Marriage Legislation, The Church Maintains That The Act Is Still Contrary To The Bible
This proposed legislation would make it mandatory for states to recognize all marriages that were performed in jurisdictions where doing so was legal, effectively nullifying the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed during the Clinton administration.
States would be obligated to honor marriages between people of different “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin,” which would safeguard interracial unions. It is made crystal clear that individual and corporate rights would not be compromised in any way.
All four Utah representatives in Congress who are also members of the Mormon Church have spoken out in favor of the bill so far this year.
Contrast this with the church’s public stance 14 years ago, when its members were among the largest contributors in favor of California’s Prop. 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman in response to cities like San Francisco granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The executive director of Equality Utah, Troy Williams, found it “thrilling” that the church was a part of the coalition that backed the legislation.
Williams, a devout Christian from an early age, said, “Despite differences, we may have, we can always discover common ground on laws that support the strengthening of all families.”
The Respect for Marriage Act does not fully codify the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a federal right to same-sex marriage, nor does it detail all religious liberty concerns of those who object to it.
According to Tim Schultz, president of the 1st Amendment Partnership, it is seen by religious groups as a means to enact protections for religious liberty that have so far been unsuccessful.
Schultz’s group is part of a coalition that is fighting for religious freedom, and that group includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He said that the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage was due in large part to the fact that “traditional marriage” advocates had not been marginalized.
Williams, who attended church regularly as a child, said, “Despite differences, we may have, we can always discover common ground on laws that support the strengthening of all families.”
Churches should be able to refuse to host a wedding for a couple because of their religious beliefs, but the faith opposes laws that would make that possible.
However, it has supported state-level efforts to enact laws that prohibit employment and housing discrimination, so long as these laws clarify respect for religious freedom.
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