Four gay rights groups have denounced a
Mormon apostle's comments supporting the church's backing of
Proposition 8, the voter-approved California gay marriage ban.
Gay rights groups say Elder Dallin H.
Oaks' comments at Brigham Young University – Idaho Tuesday are
“contrary to core doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints as outlined in the Articles of Faith.”
In his speech, Oaks, a member of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1984, called gay marriage a
“threat to religious freedom” and likened protests against the
Mormon Church after passage of Proposition 8 to the persecution
blacks endured during the civil-rights struggle. Oaks told his
audience that Mormons must not be “deterred or coerced into
silence” by advocates for “alleged civil rights.”
Gay rights activists and allies spilled
into the streets of California and Utah in November after a narrow
majority of voters approved Proposition 8. In both states,
protesters targeted Mormon temples and called for boycotts against
businesses – some of them Mormon owed – that supported the
measure. At the behest of their Mormon leaders, church members had
donated millions in dollars towards Proposition 8.
“These incidents were expressions of
outrage against those who disagree with the gay-rights position and
had prevailed in a public contest,” Oaks said. “As such, these
incidents of 'violence and intimidation' are not so much
anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the
well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the
South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.”
On Friday, the
four gay rights groups said they want Oaks to accept their statement
in person on November 4, the first anniversary of Proposition 8.
The statement includes: “Support of
policies that seeks to force the morality of our belief system on
others who believe differently and strip existing rights from
individuals and religions is contrary to core doctrines of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) as outlined in the
Articles of Faith.”
Signing onto the statement are Mormons
for Marriage, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, the LDS Safe
Space Coalition and Foundation
for Reconciliation. All four groups have strong ties to the
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid, a Democrat from Nevada and the highest ranking elected official
who is a member of the LDS church, commented for the first time on
the church's involvement in approving Proposition 8.
Gay activists from the National
Equality March who met with the senator said that Reid called the
effort “inappropriate” and a “waste of resources” but that he
remains opposed to gay marriage.