LDS Church Supports Federal Gay Marriage Legislation
In what the Salt Lake Tribune called a “stunning move,” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Morman Church) expressed support for the federal Respect for Marriage Act (HR 8404) that would codify gay marriage. The Church stated:
“The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints related to marriage between a man and a woman is well known and will remain unchanged. We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.”
The move follows an amendment to the bill that exempts religious organizations from providing “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” The act may also not be used to challenge the tax-exempt status of any organization.
Historically, the Church has opposed same-sex marriage legalization, considering the unions “a threat to children, churches and the nation as a whole,” according to Taylor Petrey, Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College.
Utah Senators were split on the law, Mitt Romney approved of the bill with the “religious freedom” amendment and voted accordingly with 11 other Republican Senators who voted to advance the Senate bill on Nov. 16, 2022. However Senator Mike Lee opposed the bill, stating, “Any potential threat to religious liberty must be met with a thorough and thoughtful defense. Current law, coupled with the Respect for Marriage Act, leaves certain religious organizations, educational institutions and individual exercise of religious beliefs more vulnerable to attack. I am actively working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to shore up those vulnerabilities.”
Utah’s four US Representatives, John Curtis, Blake Moore, Burgess Owens, and Chris Stewart, all voted in favor of the bill in July 2022, along with 43 other Republicans.
1. Should the federal government codify gay marriage? Why or why not?
2. Should religious institutions be exempt from performing same-sex marriages? Why or why not?
3. Should churches be tax exempt? Why or why not?
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Statement on the United States Congress Respect for Marriage Act,” newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, Nov. 15, 2022
Annie Karni, “Same-Sex Marriage Rights Bill Clears a Crucial Senate Hurdle,” nytimes.com, Nov. 16, 2022
Tamarra Kemsley and Peggy Fletcher Stack, “In a Stunning Move, LDS Church Comes Out for Bill That Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage, “sltrib.com, Nov. 15, 2022
Jacob Scholl, “Utah’s Us House Members All Vote in Favor of Codifying Same-Sex Marriage in the United States,” sltrib.com, July 20, 2022