WASHINGTON - The LDS Church joined a diversity of faiths this week in signing "The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment," an open letter affirming a commitment to preserve marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
Released Monday in the nation's capitol, the document bore 26 signatures of leaders representing a wide range of major religions and faith communities in the United States, from Catholic to Jewish, from Anglican to Lutheran, from Pentecostal to Evangelical, and from Sikh to Southern Baptist.
Signing on behalf of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Presiding Bishop H. David Burton.
The three-paragraph text reads:
Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all society, not just religious communities.
As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensable place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.
Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The letter comes from discussions among religious leaders who, in the face of judicial and legislative attempts to redefine marriage, look to publicize the shared commitment in defending traditional marriage as a fundamental institution of society.
On the same day the letter was signed and released, San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case involving the definition of marriage and California's Proposition 8.
On Aug. 4, Judge Vaughn Walker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional, agreeing with initiative opponents who said the traditional definition of marriage — between a man and a woman — lacked rational basis and reflected only religion-based hostility.
Eight days later, Walker ruled same-sex marriages in the state could resume unless a higher court issued a stay within the week, which a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did, prohibiting the conducting of same-sex marriages while Walker's ruling was being appealed.
Proposition 8 was approved by California voters in the November 2008 margin by a slight majority margin — 52 percent to 48 percent. It overrode a May 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that broadened the state's definition of sanctioned marriage to include all couples.
"The broad consensus reflected in this letter — across great religious divides — is clear: The law of marriage is not about imposing the religion of anyone, but about protecting the common good of everyone," said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the newly elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the letter's 26 signers. "People of any faith or no faith at all can recognize that when the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it legally binds a mother and a father to each other and their children, reinforcing the foundational cell of human society."
The LDS Church's position on the sanctity of marriage is outlined in its 2008 document, "The Divine Institution of Marriage."