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LDS church, others respond to Prop 8 decision

By Dave Newlin  |  Posted Feb 7th, 2012 @ 4:10pm


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Within hours of the ruling, both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other local leaders and organizations issued statements on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which said that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

The LDS church expressed "regret" for the decision, pointing out that California voters have "twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman." It also said that the LDS church shares the view of those California voters.

The statement also called for civility in what has been, and will undoubtedly continue to be, a heated national debate.

"There is no doubt that today's ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion."

Presidential hopeful and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney also voiced his opposition to the ruling, saying that "unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage."

He also said that the ruling showed how important the 2012 presidential election would be.

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices," Romney said.


There is no doubt that today's ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.

–Statement from the LDS church


Sen. Orrin Hatch strongly condemned this turn in a long debate about who has the right to marry, and who has the right to define marriage.

"Today two federal judges substituted their own values for those of the seven million Californians who enacted Proposition 8," Hatch said. "This is judicial activism at its worst, and I strongly oppose this decision. This decision was not about the law, but about judges taking power away from the people."

He went on to point out that the Ninth Circuit has traditionally been considered quite liberal, and their decision was "par for the course."

Utahns' reaction to the decision was more mixed, but no less passionate and polar.

"It's about time. Equal rights for everyone. Marriage for anyone. Peace (and) love," wrote Michael A. Martinez on ksl.com's Facebook page.

Many on social media and comment boards pointed out the fact that Vaughn Walker, the judge who struck down Proposition 8, leading to this appeal, was himself gay, and that perhaps some bias crept into the decision based on that fact.

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"The sad part is we have judges interpreting the law and constitution when they are in very biased situations," said Jason Johnson on Facebook.

The panel of judges itself said that there was not any bias on the part of Judge Walker. What fewer people seemed to mention was that a member of the LDS church sat on the panel, and was the only dissenting vote. Judge Randy Smith, who was appointed to the court by George W. Bush, was born in Logan, Utah and attended Brigham Young University and J. Reuben Clarke law school in the 1970s. He taught at various institutions in Idaho and currently resides in Pocatello.

Smith's dissenting opinion claimed that Proposition 8 did not simply treat gays and lesbians as second-class citizens.

The Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank based in Utah, came out against the ruling as well, specifically saying that the decision incorrectly put the judges in the driver's seat, constitutionally speaking.

Online Poll

Do you think Proposition 8 is constitutional?
1. Yes, the law is constitutional.
2. No, the law is unconstitutional.
Do you think Proposition 8 is constitutional?
1. Yes, the law is constitutional.
2. No, the law is unconstitutional.

"The basic point to make about this decision is that it very effectively accomplishes one thing: It elevates the idea of judicial supremacy as the primary constitutional value," said William C. Duncan. "It is more important, the court is saying, to preserve the conceit that the courts can read into state and national constitutions rights that no one knew or would have believed were there than to allow voters to come to a different conclusion about the basic laws by which they will be governed." Duncan is the director of the Sutherland Institute's Center for Family and Society.

On social media, the response has been largely positive, with many posting praise on sites like Facebook and Twitter. But one theme that is woven into everyone's response is the inevitability of another challenge to the 9th Circuit Court's decision.

The decision may now either go before the full circuit court of appeals, or it could go directly to the Supreme Court. Either way, it is almost certain to be challenged by defenders of Proposition 8.

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