passage of Proposition 8 in California, which seeks to amend
California's Constitution to exclude a single group of people, same
sex couples, from the fundamental right to marry.
The ACLU of Utah acknowledges the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints' recent statement calling on everyone, on both sides of the
debate, to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each
other and to request that parties refrain from subjecting others to
In the interest of disseminating accurate information, we feel it is
important to highlight that the choice between religious freedom and
equal rights is a false dichotomy. As an organization long dedicated
to protecting and promoting religious liberties and equal rights, even
when those rights appear to be in tension with one another, the ACLU
of Utah asserts that it is misleading and inaccurate to claim that
recognition of same-sex marriage by the state of California in some
way infringes on the religious liberty of the LDS Church or any other
State recognition of same-sex marriage in no way requires a church or
religious institution to recognize or even perform such ceremonies.
Legalizing same-sex marriage in California never would never require
the LDS church to perform same-sex marriages in its temples against
its religious principals - just as Catholic priests never have been
required to marry persons who are divorced and Orthodox rabbis have
never been compelled to perform interfaith marriages. The ACLU would
be the first to defend a religious institution from being forced by
the government to perform a marriage ceremony in violation of its
However, state-recognized marriage does confer a myriad of benefits
upon married couples, many of which are difficult to obtain otherwise.
Such legally-incurred benefits include health insurance, unemployment
compensation, family leave, inheritance, hospital visitation and more.
ln Utah, civil unions and domestic partnerships are not recognized by
the state, making such benefits all the more unattainable.
Civil (state) recognition of marriage does not in and of itself carry
any particular religious significance. The California's Supreme
Court's recognition of the constitutional right of same-sex couples to
marry did not change that. It is inaccurate to suggest that civil
marriage for same-sex couples would infringe on religious liberties.
This inaccuracy hinders our ability to move forward with mutual
respect and civility.
The national ACLU has joined in a suit challenging the validity of
Proposition 8, should it be determined to have passed (the vote on the
ballot measure is still too close to call).