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McEntee: Mormons join a misguided warning about gay marriage
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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 joined in a multifaith statement saying that recognition of gay marriage threatens the one-man, one-woman unions and, evidently, the very foundation of religious freedom in the United States.

Worse, "Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together" proposes that acceptance of same-sex marriage would interfere with the religious freedom of those who "continue to affirm the true definition of marriage."

Which, in my mind, is a warped assumption that if I live and worship in a manner not consistent with yours, your faith and freedom are in peril. That's nonsense.

The LDS Church's signatory is Presiding Bishop H. David Burton, who joins Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox Jewish, Evangelical, Baptist and other clergy. The letter is posted on the church's website.

The gist is that if individuals and religious organizations are forced to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the "moral equivalent" of marital sexual conduct, the consequences will be church-state conflicts spanning everything from employment benefits to housing, property and taxation.

And children. Religious adoption agencies, for example, would be "required by law to place children with persons of the same sex who are civilly 'married.'"

The list goes on: Religious employers who offer insurance to married workers would have to provide it for gay couples. Religious marriage counselors? Same thing.

In short, faiths that refuse to treat same-sex marriage as they do traditional marriage "will be subjected to the full arsenal of government punishments and pressures reserved for racists."

Which leads me to the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment and its assurance that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

All over this nation, people of faith — including Mormons — have come to understand that sexuality exists in all of us, gay or straight. We also understand that love knows no boundaries, whatever the laws may be.

Speaking of racists, mixed-race marriage was illegal in Virginia and many other states until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that such laws are in violation of the Constitution. In 2003, the high court found that criminalizing same-sex relations was a violation of privacy. Today, California's ban on same-sex marriage is making its way through the courts, probably bound for the Supreme Court.

When I look at all the gay couples in my life, I see commitment, shared duties, sacrifice and bounty, and nothing remotely resembling a threat to my marriage or faith.

"Marriage and religious freedom are both deeply woven into the fabric of this nation," the letter says.

So is individual freedom, and that's worth protecting, too.

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook/pegmcentee and Twitter.

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