The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed two briefs with the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to uphold California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which both define marriage as between one man and one woman.
A coalition of churches—the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Romanian-American Evangelical Alliance of North America, Truth in Action Ministries, and The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormons)—joined together to ask that the Ninth Circuit Court reverse their decision that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Lawyers for The Church of Jesus Christ drafted the briefs. Von Keetch of the Utah-based Kirton McConkie law firm wrote, “Our theological perspectives, though often differing, converge to support the proposition that the traditional, opposite-sex definition of marriage in the civil law is not only constitutional but essential to the welfare of families, children, and society.”
The passage of Proposition 8 in 2008 banned same-sex marriage in California. The brief defends the state constitutional amendment: “The people of California violated no one’s civil rights when they adopted Proposition 8. Their twice-expressed preference for the traditional definition of marriage over an untested rival conception was thoroughly rational. It is therefore thoroughly constitutional.”
In June 2008, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ distributed a letter about “Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families” that announced the Church’s participation with a coalition of churches, organizations, and individuals sponsoring a November ballot measure, Proposition 8, that would amend the California state constitution to ensure that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be legally recognized.1 The Church of Jesus Christ and many of its members experienced “violence and intimidation” because of the Church’s support of Proposition 8.2
Although The Church of Jesus Christ insists that marriage is between a man and a woman, they express compassion for those seeking gay rights. They created a website devoted to same-sex attraction that indicates where The Church of Jesus Christ stands on the issue: “The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”3 The website features conversations with members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as well as videos of people sharing their real experiences.
The LDS Church and the coalition churches are not the only groups taking strong stances and filing briefs with the U. S. Supreme Court. Other religious, civic, and private organizations are filing “‘friend of the court’ briefs, weighing in on whether same-sex marriage should be allowed.” Utah Attorney General John Swallow has “joined other states in asking the court to uphold Prop. 8 and DOMA,” and the Utah Pride Center and twenty-six other groups filed a brief expressing support of same-sex marriage. On March 26-27, 2013, the U. S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on legal challenges to California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.
This article was written by Paula Hicken, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Paula Hicken was an editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship from 2000 to 2013. She earned her BA degree in English from Brigham Young University. She edited Insights, the Maxwell Institute newsletter, and was the production editor for Faith, Philosophy, Scripture, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times (2nd ed.), Third Nephi: An Incomparable Scripture, and was one of the copy editors for Analysis of the Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon. She also helped manage the Maxwell Institute intellectual property and oversaw rights and permissions. She has published in the Ensign, the Liahona, the LDS Church News, and the FARMS Review.