The Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), headquartered in Salt Lake City UT, has once again entered the fray against marriage equality, this time in Mexico. The LDS Church has thrown in the towel in its campaign against marriage equality in the US. A campaign which found the LDS Church in cahoots with the US Roman Catholic Church’s leadership to skirt state and federal laws regarding the reporting of campaign contributions. The LDS Church participated in the Proposition 8 campaign in California. Prop 8 was a ballot initiative to overturn the CA Supreme Court’s (CASC) ruling that anti-same gender marriage laws violated the CA Constitution. The initiative proposed amending the CA Constitution with the addition of a definition of civil marriage as only between a man and a woman. The initiative passed by a small margin, ending the short window of opportunity for legal same gender marriage that was open between the time of the CASC’s ruling and the passing of the initiative.
The LDS Church was found to have been working behind the scenes as far back as 1998 to influence anti-same gender marriage laws in various US states. The LDS Church funneled thousands/millions/? of unreported dollars into the Prop 8 campaign by asking for large donations from wealthy members of the Church, bundling the donations and passing them to the campaign. The LDS Church was also reported to have provided thousands/millions/? of dollars in unreported in kind donations, such as using church-owned facilities to produce anti-marriage equality/pro-Prop 8 commercials for airing on CA television and radio stations, as well as print ads for CA periodicals. These efforts by the LDS Church angered many of its own US membership who have LGBT family members and friends.
Last Sunday, the Mexico Area authority for the LDS Church in Mexico, Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, and his two counselors, Elder Paul B. Pieper and Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela, fanned out across Mexico to read a letter they had signed, to various stake conferences. (An LDS stake is similar to a diocese.) In the letter, the Mexico Area Presidency reemphasized the LDS Church’s stand against same gender marriage (SGM) and restated that marriage was established by God to be between a man and a woman. They encouraged Mexico’s 1.4 million members of record with almost verbatim language used in the LDS Church’s previous fight against SGM in the USA. “We encourage members of the Church to unite our voices with those of other citizens exercising our rights as are contained in the Constitution of the United Mexican States, which establishes and honors freedom of religion and expression of beliefs and thoughts, both publicly and privately.” The LDS Church web portal for news in Mexico also stated that the letter would be distributed to ward bishops & branch presidents to be read to their local congregations. (LDS Wards & branches are similar to self sufficient & dependent parishes, respectively. Bishops & branch presidents are the local pastors of those congregations.) The letter also encouraged members to become involved with a non-governmental organization, la Conciencia Nacional por la Libertad Religiosa (the National Conscience for Religious Liberty.)
The LDS Church has become concerned about SGM in Mexico because of a recent (19 MAY) presidential proposal to embody marriage equality in Mexico’s constitution. SGM is already legal in the Federal District (Mexico City) and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Sonora. The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled that SGMs solemnized in those locations must be legally recognized by all Mexican states. Last year the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that Mexican states could not pass laws against SGM, but stopped short of requiring the states to write SGM into their local state codes. If the Mexican Congress passes the constitutional amendment by 2/3s majority of each of its two houses, the amendment would then need to be passed by a simple majority of the 31 state legislatures to become law.
Should Mexico legalize SGM nation-wide, then all three NAFTA countries (Canada, Mexico & the USA) would have embraced marriage equality and SGM would exist for LGBT folks in the largest swath on the planet, from the Arctic to the Tropics, including almost 500 million people.
The main photo is © 2016 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.