Thousands of protestors also gathered outside the LDS Temple in Los Angeles on Thursday for a similar demonstration. Protestors were angry about Tuesday’s passage of Proposition 8, which alters the state constitution to outlaw the practice of same-sex marriage.
Similar ballot measures also passed in Arizona and Florida on Tuesday.
Salt Lake City’s protest was organized by Jacob Whipple, a man who had planned to marry his male partner in the Spring. Whipple told ABC 4 he was inspired to organize the Salt Lake Protest after seeing the California demonstration on television.
Several speakers warmed up the crowd in a pre-march rally. Among them, former Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson who recounted growing up Mormon and becoming disenchanted over doctrines that did not allow blacks to hold the church’s priesthood or participate in temple ceremonies. He called the opposition to gay marriage “another tragic mistake” in the church’s history. He promised the growing crowd that one day there would be sexual as well as racial equality.
By the time marchers began circling the LDS Church office building and Temple Square, their numbers had swelled to well over 2,000. Salt Lake police shut down lanes and directed traffic around the protest. Still, cars were backing up for several blocks through the heart of downtown.
The gates to Temple Square were closed. Police and LDS Church security officers stood watch at the doors to the office building. But the majority of the protesters heeded the call of organizers to keep the march peaceful.
A few members of the LDS Church lifted their voices against the protesters. They stood at the steps of the headquarters building and sang hymns. The verbal confrontations were left to a couple of street preachers who carried signs condemning the gay lifestyle. One also carried a bull horn trying to out shout the multitude. Ironically, these are some of the same preachers who show up at every general conference of the LDS Church. On those occasions they have ridiculed Mormons, but on this night they found themselves in the odd position of defending the LDS Church’s stand on marriage. Politics makes for strange bedfellows.
The Church released a statement on Friday, again calling for civility among its members and those who opposed same-sex marriage bans. The statement also asserted that the Church was ‘singled out’ for its part in the ‘democratic process’ that led to the passage of Proposition 8.
LDS Church Statement on SLC Protest
Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States – that of free expression and voting.
While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the Church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process.
Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.
----Information from: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
ACLU's Statement on Same-sex Marriage
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 erroneous information.
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 religious institution.
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 religious tenets.
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).
Statement from Sacramento Roman Catholic Bishop Weigand
"Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage--the union of one man and one woman--that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia.
"The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included--but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.
"Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8.
"As the former bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, I can attest to the fact that followers of the Mormon faith are a good and generous people with a long history of commitment to family and giving to community causes.
"I personally decry the bigotry recently exhibited towards the members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints--coming from the opponents of Proposition 8, who ironically, have called those of us supporting traditional marriage intolerant.
"I call upon the supporters of same-sex marriage to live by their own words--and to refrain from discrimination against religion and to exercise tolerance for those who differ from them. I call upon them to accept the will of the people of California in the passage of Proposition 8."