Mormon Church Back in Marriage Equality Fight in Hawaii

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com October 30 2013 2:18 PM ET

After backing away from fighting marriage equality for a while, the Mormon Church is once again active on this issue, coming out in opposition to the equal marriage bill pending in Hawaii.

Church leaders have issued letters to the faithful reiterating that the denomination believes marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples, with one sent by the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters to Hawaii congregations in September and another, stronger one issued by the Hawaii church hierarchy this month, Mother Jones reports.

The September letter “acknowledged that some Mormons might actually be in favor of the marriage bill,” the magazine reports, but directed members to review documents spelling out the church’s official stance opposing same-sex marriage.

“Salt Lake City’s focus-grouped language didn’t sit well with Hawaii church leaders, who wanted a more forceful message,” Mother Jones notes. “On October 13, Hawaii church leaders read another letter to their flocks, this time stating flatly that the church’s position on same-sex marriage had not changed and that the church ‘is opposed to the proposed legislation in Hawaii.’ The state church’s letter argues that traditional marriage is ‘fundamental to successful families and a strong society,’ and directs members to actively oppose the legislation.” Hawaii has a large Mormon population, and the church-affiliated Brigham Young University has a campus in the state.

In the past few years, the church has been less active in opposing marriage equality than it was, for instance, in the battle over California’s Proposition 8, in which it played a major role. Some observers say part of the reason for that move was to avoid hurting Mitt Romney’s chance at the presidency; Romney, last year’s Republican candidate, is one of the nation’s most visible Mormons.

A Hawaii state Senate committee voted Monday to advance the marriage bill to the full Senate, and a House committee is scheduled to consider it Thursday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie supports the measure.