Mormon group protests church's gay marriage stance

Associated Press/October 17, 2008

Salt Lake City - A group of Mormons who support gay marriage delivered protest letters and bundles of carnations to church headquarters Friday in an appeal to end the church's support of a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California.

The group, called Sign for Something, disagrees with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' opposition to gay marriage and its efforts to boost Mormon involvement before the Nov. 4 election.

The church is part of a coalition of conservative groups backing Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman and thereby overturn the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

More than 40 people sang hymns as they made the delivery, which was accepted by a church spokeswoman.

Included in the packet is a petition signed by more than 400 people, including church members from around the world. It asks the church to "stop political organizing efforts and financial support of attempts to use government to restrict the secular and religious rights of gay and lesbian individuals."

Andrew Callahan, of Hastings, Neb., helped lead Friday's delivery. He said many Mormons with gay and lesbian loved ones are torn over the gay marriage issue and want very much to be heard by leadership.

"They feel like (the loved ones) should be treated fairly and evenly and equally, just like you and me, but their church tells them 'no, they can't be,'" he said before handing over the letters.

Steve and Linda Stay drove more than 300 miles from southern Utah to be among the protesters. Two of the nine children in the Stays' blended family are gay. Their son, Tyler Barrick, married his partner, Spencer Jones, in San Francisco, Linda Stay said.

"This is a huge issue for us. For us, it's a civil rights issue, not just a religious issue," said Linda Stay. "It's taking away their right to have the same benefits that I do."

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said the church understands that some members disagree with its stance.

"It also understands that this issue affects people in very private, individual ways," Farah said. "However, the church does have a moral obligation to speak out on issues that affect the moral fabric of society as it has in this case."

Officially, the Mormon church is politically neutral and does not endorse individual candidates or political parties. The church does, however, weigh in on issues it considers morally important. The church holds traditional marriage as a sacred institution ordained by God.

Church members are taught that gay sex is a sin. Gays can continue to hold church callings if they remain celibate, however. Those who act on what the church calls "same-gender attraction" have sometimes been excommunicated.

Mormons have given $8.4 million to the Proposition 8 campaign, according to the Web site

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