Despite nationwide backlash against the LDS Church for its support of a ballot measure that re-banned gay marriage in California, mentions of the church’s Proposition 8 campaign were few at April’s General Conference.
Held each year during April and October, General Conference brings Mormons together (largely through television) for prayer and instruction from church leaders on topics effecting them spiritually, politically and socially.
During the gathering (held April 4 and 5), church president Thomas Monson made only one remark touching on gay marriage and Proposition 8, which the church urged Mormons in California to support as early as last June. Overall, Mormons raised some $20 million for campaigns to pass the constitutional amendment.
“The moral footings of society continue to slip, while those who attempt to safeguard those footings are often ridiculed and, at times, picketed and persecuted,” Monson said on the conference’s second day.
On the same day, Apostle Dallin H. Oaks also praised Mormons for opposing gay marriage in his speech on sacrifice.
“In recent elections, Latter-day Saints have united with other like-minded persons in defense of marriage efforts,” said Oaks, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “For some, that service has involved great sacrifice and continuing personal pain.”
Other topics discussed by church leaders included the upcoming Easter weekend, the troubled world economy, the dangers of online pornography and the centrality of Jesus Christ to Mormon faith.
Despite its opposition to gay marriage, the LDS Church released a statement after the passage of Proposition 8 saying that it was not anti-gay and did not oppose certain, non-marriage rights for same-sex couples including hospital visitation, workplace and housing protections, probate and inheritance rights. Taking the church at its word, statewide gay rights group Equality Utah penned four pieces of legislation and one policy change that would have granted these protections to gay and transgender Utahns. Three bills failed to make it to the Senate and House floors for debate. The fourth and arguably most controversial bill, which would have struck a part of Utah’s constitutional gay marriage ban prohibiting legal recognition of any marriage-like relationship, was withdrawn by its sponsor to give the other bills a better shot at passing.
The LDS Church made no comment on the bills, collectively called the Common Ground Initiative. Since the end of the 2009 legislative session, Equality Utah has expanded their initiative to passing fair workplace and housing laws and equal health insurance coverage for unmarried domestic partners in individual cities and municipalities.