SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church has accepted that same-sex marriage is now legal in the United States, but that hardly means the Utah-based faith is embracing moves toward it in places where it isn’t the law of the land.
Case in point: Mexico.
On Sunday (May 29), three members of the LDS Church’s governing Area Authority in Mexico read a letter at services of individual Mormon stakes (which are like dioceses), urging members to oppose a presidential proposal to enshrine gay marriage in the country’s constitution.
“The family is ordained of God and marriage between man and woman is essential to his eternal plan,” said the letter, reaffirming The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ long-standing stance against gay unions.
Signed by the Area Authority president, Benjamin De Hoyos, and his two counselors, Paul B. Pieper and Arnulfo Valenzuela, the statement exhorted Mexico’s Mormons to push government leaders to “promote those measures designed to strengthen the family and to maintain it as the fundamental unit of society.”
Echoing rhetoric about religious freedom used by LDS leaders in the U.S., the Mexican authorities encouraged adherents to “unite our voices with those of other citizens exercising our rights as are contained in the Constitution of the United Mexican States, which establishes and honors freedom of religion and expression of beliefs and thoughts, both publicly and privately.”
Mexico is home to about 1.4 million Mormons, according to LDS statistics, but the majority of people attend the Catholic Church, which also is fighting the same-sex-marriage proposal.
The three LDS leaders pointed members toward a new nongovernmental organization, which translates to the National Consciousness for Religious Freedom, while counseling that members’ involvement “should be done in a spirit of love, respect and civility toward those with different views.”
The LDS Church’s official Mexican newsroom website said the authorities’ statement also will be read by bishops of the more than 2,000 Mormon congregations in that nation.
Gay marriage “is already legal in some parts of Mexico, such as the capital, the northern state of Coahuila and Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast,” The Associated Press reported. “Adding it to the constitution and the civil code would expand gay-marriage rights across the country.”
If two-thirds of the Mexican Congress adopts the proposal, according to the AP, it then would require ratification by a simple majority vote of the states to change the constitution.
Growing numbers of nations have legalized gay marriage, including four in Latin America — Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. Mexico would be the fifth.
“In gay-supporting countries, church members feel less disturbed by same-sex marriage because of the civil framework to which the word ‘marriage’ belongs,” retired LDS professor Wilfried Decoo, who has taught at the University of Antwerp and at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, wrote in 2014, “and because it pertains to nonmembers.”
While the LDS Church doesn’t allow same-sex marriages in its temples or chapels, it does recognize civil societies’ right to sanction such unions — which could happen in Mexico.
(Peggy Fletcher Stack writes for The Salt Lake Tribune, where this article first appeared)