A Mormon whose photo was featured in a church press release and Facebook post emphasizing the church’s doctrine against same-sex marriage was surprised to see it used there — she’s a supporter of marriage equality.
Sylvia Cabus of Washington, D.C., says she’s not particularly upset, as she had signed a release allowing the church to use the photo, depicting her strolling by the U.S. Supreme Court building with her husband and son, for any purpose. But she also wanted to make her position on marriage equality clear, she told the Associated Press.
So last Friday, after the church posted the photo and press release on its website in response to the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, she shared it on Facebook with the comment, “Umm … this is us in the photo. I am still pro-marriage equality!”
The photo came out of a shoot the church did last year of multicultural and interfaith families. Cabus is a Filipina-American Mormon, while her husband is a Muslim of Moroccan heritage.
The church had previously used the photo on its website in April, when it announced it had filed a brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to let states restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, Cabus told the AP. She didn’t speak out then because the photo reached a limited audience, but the fact that it was widely shared after the ruling led her to do so now.
“I felt that now that our photo was in a wider public sphere that I wanted to make my own personal position clear,” she told Salt Lake City’s KUTV this week. “I felt a lot of support from Elder [D. Todd] Christofferson’s statement that members can remain in good standing while agreeing with the SCOTUS decision.” Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church’s second-highest governing body.
Mormon leaders have made it clear that they believe marriage is exclusively a male-female union and have sent a letter to congregations reminding them of this. The Supreme Court decision, of course, does not require any church to perform same-sex marriages.
Cabus, meanwhile, has made the photo her Facebook profile picture — overlaid with the rainbow LGBT Pride filter Facebook made available. “I have not experienced any negative repercussions from any church members, including my ward leadership, and am heartened by all the positive reactions I’ve received to our ‘rainbow’ photo,” she told KUTV.
She said she won’t ask the church to remove the photo from its site, and she doesn’t regret doing the shoot.