Gay advocacy groups criticize Mormon apostle over Prop 8 comments

Elder Dallin H. OaksFour gay advocacy groups that include Mormons and former church members released a joint statement Friday disagreeing with points made earlier this week in a speech on freedom of religion by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The statement called the church’s decision to advocate for traditional marriage an attempt to force its belief system on others and strip existing rights from people and religions.

Gay rights groups say Oaks’ comments are “contrary to core doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as outlined in the Articles of Faith.”

In his speech, Oaks called gay marriage a “threat to religious freedom” and likened protests against the Mormon Church after passage of Proposition 8 to the persecution blacks endured during the civil-rights struggle. Oaks told an audience at Brigham Young University that Mormons must not be “deterred or coerced into silence” by advocates for “alleged civil rights.”

The statement was signed by the Foundation for Reconciliation/, Mormons for Marriage, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons and the LDS Safe Space Coalition. The groups called for the LDS Church to reconsider the funding it has provided for public campaigns to support traditional marriage.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the highest ranking elected official who is a member of the LDS church, commented for the first time on the church’s involvement in approving Proposition 8.

Gay activists from the National Equality March who met with the senator said that Reid called the effort “inappropriate” and a “waste of resources” but that he remains opposed to gay marriage.

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