It is a message that Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, has offered repeatedly in recent years as the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has battled gay marriage legislation across the United States. But this address came via satellite during a regional conference in New Zealand, which legalized same-sex marriage last year.
Oaks, Colvin reports, told the listening Latter-day Saints that the debate in the United States about faith, family and freedom is just as relevant in their South Pacific islands.
Some in attendance wondered why Oaks would take up that topic when there was nothing they could do about their nation's new policy. Others said they have seen no negative impacts in their country because of same-sex marriage.
"Perhaps he was cross with New Zealand Mormons," Colvin writes, "for not caring about same-gender marriage as much as he obviously does."
Or maybe, some suggest, the same message in, say, general conference doesn't play as well in a specialized setting overseas.
"Some politically loaded talks by LDS general authorities for a 'foreign' regional audience seem not sensitive enough to local situations," writes Wilfried Decoo, a Mormon in Belgium. "Not only aspects of the topic can be understood quite differently in a foreign context, but also the style may disturb."
Decoo adds in an email from Antwerp, "For audiences abroad, it may be better to avoid topics like same-sex marriage or to get preliminary advice when the speaker is not fully aware of the potential effect on the members and on public relations. ... The main issue now is same-sex marriage, which in the international context is complex as countries are evolving in opposite directions, either growing acceptance in advanced democracies, or growing rejection in undemocratic countries."
Besides, Oaks, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson and Primary President Rosemary Wixom also spoke to the New Zealand Mormons in the satellite broadcast.
Peggy Fletcher Stack