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Mormons join Hawaii’s gay-marriage fight, but with a new approach
After Prop 8 » Mormon leaders urge members to lobby for religious exemptions.


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"People on the left and on the right believe that same-sex marriage is inevitable; the momentum is all in that direction," said Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum. "The best thing [believers] can do is to protect religious freedom — as they understand it — in this new reality."

Whatever an owner’s personal beliefs, if a business opens its door to the public, Haynes said, it will not be able to withhold its services from gays.

At a glance

LDS leaders’ letter to Hawaiian members:

“We have received a number of questions in the last few months regarding proposed legislation that would redefine the relationship and nature of marriage in Hawaii.

“As members of the Church we should be actively engaged in worthy causes that will affect our communities and our families. This legislation will directly affect both. Members are encouraged to study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation. As you do so, you may want to review “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and other Church publications available on the Church website at lds.org. You may also wish to consider donating your time or resources to one of the community organizations addressing this issue.

“Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:

“ — Protect religious organizations and officials from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and

“ — Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.

“This is an important issue. As you stake presidency, we urge every family to discuss this issue together and then respond as you feel appropriate. Thank you for your support and faithful service. We pray that the Lord will bless and protect you and your families always.”

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As to whether churches themselves will be forced to perform or host same-sex weddings, Haynes said, "that will never happen until the First Amendment is repealed."

The threat of such governmental coercion, he said, is "a red herring to frighten people."

Nor does Haynes believe that pastors or Mormon authorities will be barred from condemning homosexuality from the pulpit.

"This is the freest society on Earth for religious people," he said. "Protecting the rights of gay and lesbian people will not change that."

pstack@sltrib.com

Twitter:@religiongal




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