November 19 editorial |

November 19 editorial

LDS Church doesn't speak for Utah on Proposition 8

On Nov. 4, Americans throughout the land celebrated a momentous civil rights triumph — the election of the nation’s first African-American president. The positive impact of the election is still reverberating, not only across this country, but around the world. People of every race, religion, gender and political persuasion see it as a universal sign that inequality and prejudice will soon be relegated to unhappy chapters in our history books.

Unfortunately, there are still many civil rights battles to be fought — some, apparently, right here in Utah. There has been a strong backlash against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the role it played in supporting California’s Proposition 8 banning same sex marriages.

It deserves the heat it is getting.

The Mormon Church encouraged its members to take a political stand a practice it claims to avoid, especially when questions are raised about the church’s influence over the state legislature. The church also meddled in the affairs of another state something Utahns would abhor if the tables were turned.

Worst of all, it supported the wrong side.

By reversing California’s earlier decision to allow same-sex marriages, Proposition 8 will strip hundreds of gay and lesbian couples of the legal rights accorded traditional couples, basic rights that support long-term stable relationships by providing a framework for shared property, health care and custody of children.

Granted, the Mormon Church has every right to pursue what it feels is a religious issue. But, since opponents of Prop. 8 have begun calling for a ban on Utah travel and products, we felt it was important to point out the LDS Church does not speak for all of Utah.

Utah was founded by a group of religious outcasts seeking a place to practice their faith without persecution. Their descendents should know better than to persecute others.

Next year America’s new president will rededicate the Lincoln Memorial, an event planned long before anyone imagined that president would be Barack Obama, an African-American. At the original dedication in 1922, African Americans watched from "the colored section" of the celebration.

Those who roped off the colored section and who continued to support racist policies throughout the turbulent civil rights battles of the 1960s passed a legacy of nearsighted bigotry on to their descendants, one that has taken decades to overturn.

Today it would be wise for the leaders of the Mormon Church to reflect on how their role in denying rights to gays and lesbians will be viewed by their own children and grandchildren who, we hope, will be living in a time when inequality and prejudice are finally relegated to unhappy chapters in our history books.

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