By Derrick DePledge
The Mormon church, which was among the leaders in the fight against gay marriage in Hawaii in the 1990s, has urged followers in the islands to push for a strong religious exemption in a gay marriage bill state lawmakers will consider in special session in October.
A Sept. 15 letter from Mormon leaders, published by the Salt Lake Tribune, appeals to church members on both sides of the gay marriage issue:
We have received a number of questions in the last few months regarding proposed legislation that would redefine the relationship and nature of marriage in Hawaii.
As members of the Church we should be actively engaged in worthy causes that will affect our communities and our families. This legislation will directly affect both. Members are encouraged to study this legislation prayerfully and then as private citizens contact your elected representatives in the Hawaii Legislature to express your views about the legislation. As you do so, you may want to review “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and other Church publications available on the Church website at lds.org. You may also wish to consider donating your time or resources to one of the community organizations addressing this issue.
Whether or not you favor the proposed change, we hope that you will urge your elected representatives to include in any such legislation a strong exemption for people and organizations of faith. Such an exemption should:
— Protect religious organizations and officials from being required to support or perform same-sex marriages or from having to host same-sex marriages or celebrations in their facilities; and
— Protect individuals and small businesses from being required to assist in promoting or celebrating same-sex marriages.
This is an important issue. As you stake presidency, we urge every family to discuss this issue together and then respond as you feel appropriate. Thank you for your support and faithful service. We pray that the Lord will bless and protect you and your families always.