A Mormon elder has urged faith leaders and attorneys to seek a middle ground on gay marriage and religious liberties, specifically criticizing the actions of a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints elder Dallin H Oaks made the comments in a closed-door interfaith meeting of attorneys and clergy in Sacramento, California. His speech was seen as an attempt to further moderate the Mormon church’s position on homosexuality, which it refers to as “same-gendered attraction”.
“There should be no adversariness between believers and non-believers, and there should be no belligerence between religion and government,” said Oaks. “Believers and religious organizations should recognize this, and refrain from labelling governments and laws and officials as if they were inevitable enemies.”
He went on to reference a “county clerk”, later confirmed to mean Kim Davis. The clerk refused to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky, after the US supreme court legalized gay marriage across the country.
“All government officers should exercise their civil authority according to the principles and within the limits of civil government. A county clerk’s recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal by her office and staff to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle,” Oaks said…
Oaks’s speech, titled The Boundary between Church and State, focused on the separation of church and state as a protection for religious believers, rather than an obstacle. Oaks is a member of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, was once a justice of the state’s supreme court, and served as president of Brigham Young University (his alma mater)…
Elders have increasingly made statements leaning toward acceptance of same-sex relationships…Official church teaching remains unchanged – that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
Throughout the American Southwest the Church of latter-Day Saints often has as strong a political voice as the Roman Catholic church. For one thing, the church has an uncommon understanding of modern prejudice. Mormons are centered in the Southwest, headquartered in Utah, after all, as a result of their choice to move away from the political and economic center of the United States because of the bigotry and violence they experienced from nativist political currents.
Church members have a respect for healthy living which strikes a responsive chord among many modernists, sharing confidence in everything from home cooking to plain living. Their conservatism is of the same whole cloth as traditional American conservatism – which still includes caring for nature and the environment.
Nice to see the LSD church taking baby steps towards accommodation with modern understanding of human biology, advancing slowly in social relevance. Unlike many of their distant fundamentalist kin.