Since Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot in June of this year, the citizens of California have considered the arguments for and against same-sex marriage. After extensive debate between those of different persuasions, voters have chosen to amend the California State Constitution to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Voters in Arizona and Florida took the same course and amended their constitutions to establish that marriage will continue to be between a man and a woman.
Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life — family, identity, intimacy and equality — stirs fervent and deep feelings.
Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.
We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.
It is important to understand that this issue for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage — a union between a man and a woman.
Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the church were and are simply wrong. The church's opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.
Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.
Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.
Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy.
The church expresses deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the many Latter-day Saints and others who supported the coalitions in efforts regarding these amendments.