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Richard Piatt ReportingA statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fueling the emotional debate over same-gender marriage going beyond what the Church has said in the past.
The church clarifies its position on same sex civil unions, and of election-year measures that define male-female relationships.
In its statement the Church does not come out and endorse Amendment Three--the measure that defines marriage. But it's clear it favors the elements of Amendment Three that affect civil unions as well.
The Church's statement from the First Presidency reads in part that the Church "favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship."
This is in addition to the Church's well-known statements in support of man-woman marriage as sacred.
The significance of this statement, politically, is its timing. In two weeks voters will cast a ballot on Amendment Three, and there are sharp divisions between the two sides. Those against it oppose the second part of the measure they say has flaws and will face a legal challenge. The Church's statement will not change their campaigning against it.
Scott McCoy, No On 3: "There's no reason to rush in and hop on the bandwagon here when this amendment is going to cause harm to the legal system and families in Utah."
Monte Stewart, Yes on 3: "When the statement came out today, it seemed wonderfully clear to us that Amendment Three is in harmony with the church's statement today."
Amendment Three is one of the most emotional issues on this year's ballot. Those against it insist there will be expensive legal challenges to it. Those for it say they're not afraid of lawsuits because, in their words, there are some things worth fighting for.