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Mormon leaders urge respect for foes in gay-marriage debate

Published November 5, 2008 2:13 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Posted: 2:13 PM- Now that California voters have outlawed same-sex marriage, an LDS Church leader called Wednesday for members to heal any rifts caused by the emotional campaign by treating each other with "civility, with respect and with love."

"We hope that every one would treat each that way no matter which side of this issue they were on," said Elder L. Whitney Clayton, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Presidency of the Seventy.

Proposition 8 amends California's constitution to define marriage as legal only between one man and one woman. It overturns a ruling made this summer by the California Supreme Court, which struck down a 2000 ban on such unions. In the months that followed, an estimated 18,000 gay and lesbian couples were married in California.

"We pick ourselves up and trudge on," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a former Utahn.

She predicted that the movement for gay equality would continue to move forward. "If it's not today or it's not tomorrow, it will be soon," Kendall said.

The LDS Church's campaign to pass Proposition 8 was its most vigorous since the 1970s, when it joined the effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.

Clayton said the church never considered Proposition 8 to be a political issue.

"We consider this to be a moral issue," he said, adding that "We're not anti-gay, we're pro marriage between a man and a woman."

In a statement released today, the LDS Church hailed decisions in Arizona and Florida that also ensure marriage will be between a man and a woman.

Asked whether the LDS Church would engage in similar activism in the future, Clayton said, "I really don't know. It depends on the issue, and the time and what is going on."

In its statement, the LDS Church said it does not object to domestic partnership or civil union legislation "as long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches." --

The Associated Press contributed to this story.