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Mormon Church Finds a New Target for Its Homophobia

Benjamin de Hoyos and President Enrique Peña Nieto

Officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have issued a statement encouraging members to oppose a new initiative that would extend marriage rights to all Mexicans.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal across the United States, the LDS Church, also known as the Mormon Church, is having to turn elsewhere in the world to push its antigay agenda. The Mexican LDS leader Benjamin de Hoyos used his Sunday address to weigh in on President Enrique Peña Nieto's proposed initiative to extend same-sex marriage rights throughout Mexico, Salt Lake city station KUTV reports. The remarks were posted to the church's Mexican newsroom site later that day. Leaders of the church's approximately 2,000 Mexican congregations have been asked to read the statement from their pulpits this coming Sunday.

In his speech, Hoyos encouraged church members to "unite their voices with other citizens in exercising our rights as they are contained in the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico, which establishes and honors the freedom of religion and of the expression of convictions and thoughts, both in public and private."

Hoyos said he was emphasizing the church's position "due to the recent announcement" of the initiative from the federal government, and quoted from the church's Proclamation on the Family: "We reiterate the call to 'responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.'"

He also directed church members to a recently established organization called Consciencia Nacional por la Libertad Religiosa (National Awareness for Religious liberty), a Mexican-based Mormon organization set up to fight the legalization of same-sex marriage. That makes it roughly analogous to the National Organization for Marriage in the U.S., which was created by prominent Mormons, Catholics, and other conservative religious leaders as a way for church members to funnel their money into the legal battle against marriage equality.

The LDS Church had a heavy hand in passing Proposition 22 and Proposition 8 in California, both of which limited marriage to those between a man and a woman. Both were eventually struck down by court decisions.

The battle for same-sex marriage is at a critical point in Mexico, where the president's proposed initiative needs a two-thirds majority vote in the Congress to pass. The church claims to have almost 1.4 million members in Mexico, slightly higher than 1 percent of the nation's total population. It remains to be seen whether they can inspire the same religious fervor and homophobia that they did in California in 2008 and whether the church has enough influence in Mexico to affect policy there.

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