The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a statement urging church members to fight the legalization of homosexual marriages.

In a statement made public Sunday, the First Presidency said the church opposes any effort to legalize marriages between people of the same sex."Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God to fulfill the eternal destiny of His children," the statement read. "The union of husband and wife assures perpetuation of the race and provides a divinely ordained setting for the nurturing and teaching of children. This sacred family setting, with father and mother and children firmly committed to each other and to righteous living, offers the best hope for avoiding many of the ills that afflict society."

The statement encouraged members to "appeal to legislators, judges and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender."

Church spokesman Don LeFevre said the statement was motivated largely by a movement in Hawaii to legalize homosexual marriages.

"But the concern is throughout the world," said LeFevre.

The statement was sent earlier to LDS Church leaders everywhere. Some leaders read it in church meetings Sunday, prompting some Utahns to wonder whether there was a local effort to legalize homosexual marriages. LeFevre said he knows of no such effort and that he is aware only of the issue in Hawaii.