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Paul Rolly: LDS Church quashes gay member’s fliers

First Published      Last Updated Oct 15 2014 10:06 am

A gay Mormon who planned to hand out informational cards outside Temple Square during LDS General Conference this weekend has been served with a cease-and-desist order by church attorneys.

Michael Ferguson, a returned missionary, and his partner, J. Seth Anderson, became the first same-sex couple married in Salt Lake City after a federal judge ruled that Utah's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

The cards he had printed and planned to distribute on the sidewalk outside the temple grounds outlined the church's position on gays and lesbians, as stated on the church's official website, mormonsandgays.org.



The cards also contained the web address for that site. Ferguson said he didn't understand the objection since it's the church's own site.

But what spawned the objection was that the card also contained the official logo of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said spokesman Dale Jones.

"When an individual or group adds the church's logo to a promotional item, it implies that the item has the church's official stamp of approval," Jones said. "That is not honest. Irrespective of the message contained in the promotional product, all organizations are obligated to protect their state and federally registered trademarks and logos."

Ferguson said his intentions were merely to spread understanding and love and help Mormons understand their own church's position on gays and lesbians through the church's own writings.

The card's three bullet points, as explained through various interviews on the website, were that same-sex attraction is not a choice, that love is the greatest commandment and that therapy does not change one's same-sex attraction.

"Those principles are important for [Mormons] to understand," said Ferguson, noting that many Latter-day Saints believe wrongly that being gay is a choice and can be "cured" by therapy.

An ironic comparison • Ferguson planned to simply pass out the cards directing church members to the LDS official website on gays. As a believing Mormon, he planned to be peaceful and respectful.

And while the cease-and-desist order resulted from the use of the copyrighted church logo, it's still unsettling that a peaceful message sent by a fellow devotee of the faith is banned, while those obnoxious anti-Mormon "fundamentalists" can use their First Amendment rights to scream at Mormons walking to LDS General Conference, call them names and disrespect their sacred garments by waving them at attendees.

Speaking of Mormon protectionism • The LDS Church has entered into an agreement with a man who created an online dating service for Mormons after objections to its name led to a lawsuit in federal court in Texas.

When the church filed objections to the use of the dating site's name, Mormon Match, the company's founder Jonathan Eller filed for legal protection that led to the lawsuit in East Texas District Court.

The Internet rights group, Electric Frontier Foundation, filed an amicus brief on Eller's behalf, arguing that protecting the name Mormon would be like preventing a taco stand from using the name taco because it would infringe on the rights of Taco Bell.

Jones, the church spokesman, said the two sides have reached an amicable settlement and Eller has changed the name of his dating service to Latter Date.

LDSsingles.com, a Utah-based dating site, has operated for years without objection from the church, but Jones said it was the Texas company's use of the name Mormon that caused the objection.

prolly@sltrib.com

 

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