Mormon Church Files Briefs in Support of DOMA, Prop. 8

Lawyers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have filed briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of upholding the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.

The LDS Church joined many other religious and civic organizations that have filed amicus briefs for or against the two measures, with LDS lawyers filing the friend-of-the-court documents last week.

Von Keetch, lawyer at the Utah-based firm Kirton McConkie, wrote the two briefs on behalf of the LDS Church.

"The people of California violated no one's civil rights when they adopted Proposition 8," wrote Keetch in the Prop. 8 brief. "Their twice-expressed preference for the traditional definition of marriage over an untested rival conception was thoroughly rational. It is therefore thoroughly constitutional."

"Our theological perspectives, though often differing, converge to support the proposition that the traditional, opposite-sex definition of marriage in the civil law is not only constitutional but essential to the welfare of families, children, and society," wrote Keetch in the DOMA brief.

In 2008, voters in California passed Proposition 8, a referendum question that added to the state constitution a measure defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The LDS Church poured considerable resources into the Prop. 8 campaign to get the marriage amendment passed.

Not long after Proposition 8 was passed, a legal challenge was made and eventually Judge Vaughn Walker, a homosexual who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, found Prop. 8 unconstitutional. Walker's decision would later be upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Signed by Democratic President Bill Clinton into law, the Defense of Marriage Act has weathered several legal challenges in multiple states. Some judges have declared it unconstitutional, while others have not. When the Obama Administration's Justice Department decided to stop defending the federal law, the House of Representatives took up defending the case via its "Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group."

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court opted to hear cases regarding both Prop. 8 and DOMA during the present session. A decision on their constitutionality is expected in the spring.

Some social commentators have claimed that the LDS Church has softened its rhetoric regarding homosexuality. Last year, the church body launched a website directed toward the LGBT community, with the promise of "greater sensitivity and better understanding" for Mormons who are gay.

Furthermore, while a major supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, the LDS Church has been silent on the debate over possible changes in the BSA's policy regarding openly gay scout leaders.

Other religious organizations that have filed briefs in the two high-profile cases in favor of DOMA and Prop 8. include the Family Research Council, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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