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Top Mormon bishop, other religious leaders warn about gay marriage

Published January 18, 2012 3:43 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The LDS Church has again joined with dozens of other faiths in its defense of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, arguing that the move to legalize gay marriage may infringe on religious rights.There are "grave consequences of altering this definition," a group of 39 religious leaders, including LDS Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, wrote last week in "an open letter ... to all Americans."Other signers included Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, Catholic archbishop of New York; and Nathan J. Diament, executive director for public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.These leaders worry about "broad range" of church-state legal conflicts that would arise by altering the civil definition of marriage.Every law "where rights depend on marital status — such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, health care, elder care, housing, property, and taxation — " the letter said, "will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage."Any refusal by religious organizations "to treat a same-sex sexual relationship as if it were a marriage," the leaders warned, would mark them and their members "as bigots, subjecting them to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists."They urged Americans to "work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage and the precious gift of religious freedom."The full letter was posted on the LDS Church's website. It was the second article this month about the Utah-based church's concerns about contemporary threats to religious freedom.The first was an introduction, offering an overview of the topic and said it was the first in a series.Peggy Fletcher Stack