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 church.

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.