Same Sex Marriage

04.12.13

The Mormon Church Backs Away from Prop. 8

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Well, it appears that one Church has given up on their anti-gay marriage crusade. The Mormon Church was once known for sending money and manpower into California to get Proposition 8 passed. Now, they appear to be retreating from the fight. This was evident last month, when almost all Christian denominations were seen protesting outside the Supreme Court. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was noticeably absent.

In the five years since the LDS church sent busloads of the faithful to California to canvass neighborhoods, and contributed more than $20 million via its members to support the initiative, it has all but dropped the rope in the public policy tug of war over marriage equality. The change stems from an even more remarkable if somewhat invisible transformation happening within the church, prompted by the ugly fight over Prop. 8 and the ensuing backlash from the flock.

Although the LDS's prophet hasn't described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization…

The LDS church has been a driving force against gay-marriage initiatives since at least 1995. It was instrumental in fending off same-sex marriage in Hawaii and Alaska and, in 2000, it helped pass California's Proposition 22 (the Prop. 8 precursor known as the Knight Initiative), which defined marriage as solely between a man and woman. (Prop. 22 was struck down by the California Supreme Court in 2008.)

While it’s unclear why the Mormon Church has pulled back from the same sex marriage battle recently, one possible motive is that the Church feels that it is not helping their image both within their own ranks and with America at-large. Interestingly though, this silence is almost certainly the result of a decision made by high-ranking Church officials.

The LGBT community's best evidence of change within the church is that last year, in the only four states ever to pass marriage-equality laws, the church "did not provide one dime or one volunteer," [Jim] Dabakis, [the head of the Utah Democratic Party and cofounder of the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake] says. He adds that in Maryland, when one local Mormon leader tried to organize to oppose a pro-marriage equality initiative, the church shut her down.