Gay marriage backers protest at LDS display
MESA, Ariz. -- Supporters of gay marriage were out in force when Mormons lit their massive Christmas displays on the grounds of the Mesa Temple.
They were upset with Mormons' opposition to same-sex marriage and the passage of state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in Arizona, California and Florida in the Nov. 4 election.
The Mormon church urged members to donate money and vote for the gay marriage bans.
''They're shining their light, we're shining ours,'' said Bobby Parker, an organizer and gay Mesa Mormon.
Many members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community view Mormon votes and dollars as the deciding factor behind the passage of Proposition 102 in Arizona and Proposition 8 in California.
Proposition 102 amends the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman and maintains the current statutory laws that ban gay marriage in Arizona. Proposition 8 amended the California Constitution in a similar way and nullified a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriage.
Mormons contributed about $3 million of the $8 million raised in the ''Yes on 102'' campaign to amend the Arizona Constitution.
Community members and organizers spread word of Friday night's vigil through the Internet and by word of mouth.
Protesters holding candles, rainbow flags, peace signs and banners with the words love, acceptance and harmony gathered Friday night at a park in support of gay marriage rights.
Others raised concerns that political and religious suppression of gay rights contributed to the suicide of religious gay teens, and many were upset about church involvement in political affairs. Many counter-protesters believed the core definition of a family was at risk from gay marriage, while others said their rights as a voter would be violated if the recent Nov. 4 decision were to be overturned.
Protesters, Mormon church members and Proposition 102 supporters alike said they respected the opposing side's stance and lifestyle
but for now must agree to strongly disagree.