The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) on Friday issued a response to a federal judge's December 20 ruling which declared Utah's gay marriage ban invalid.

“Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it,” a statement from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to church leaders reads in part. “The Church insists on its leaders' and members' constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.”

Mormon leaders reiterated their position that gay nuptials could not be celebrated in the Mormon Church.

“Consistent with our fundamental beliefs, Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex, and the Church does not permit its meetinghouses or other properties to be used for ceremonies, receptions, or other activities associated with same-sex marriages.”

In 2008, the Mormon Church faced an angry backlash for its role in the passage of Proposition 8, California's now-ended constitutional amendment which put an end to the marriages of gay and lesbian couples taking place in the state.

The guidance came on the same day that hundreds of people rallied in Salt Lake City to ask Governor Gary Herbert to drop the state's appeal in the marriage case.

(Related: At Utah gay marriage rally, hundreds ask Gov. Gary Herbert to drop appeal.)