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Both sides of gay rights issue weigh in on LDS leader's address



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SALT LAKE CITY -- One day after Latter-day Saint Church leader Elder Dallin Oaks spoke on religious freedom and discrimination following the passage of California's Proposition 8, a federal judge in San Francisco has refused to dismiss a lawsuit to overturn it.

We spoke Wednesday to people on both sides of the issue.

In his speech, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "We must not be deterred or coerced into silence by the kinds of intimidation I have described."

Elder Oaks was referring to reaction following the passage of California's Proposition 8. LDS meetinghouses were vandalized, LDS businesses were boycotted, and some church members lost their jobs, he says, because of the faith's support of Prop 8.

Will Carlson of Equality Utah says what Elder Oaks is talking about are two distinct kinds of discrimination. Latter-day Saints have recourse under existing laws he says; gays and lesbians do not.

"Unfortunately gay and transgender people can legally be evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs and have no recourse. And, so, there is a real difference in the discrimination that one group may be facing, which is wrong and illegal, and another group that's facing, that's wrong and completely legal," Carlson said.

Californians who were proponents of Prop. 8 had support from many LDS members in Utah. Prop 8 proponent Keith Kuder says he understands Elder Oaks' comments about discrimination.

"Right now, I feel I'm taking a backseat in society because of my religion. That isn't fair. That isn't fair for what country I'm in. That isn't fair for the constitution that we have," he said.

Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco said there are significant questions about whether Prop 8 discriminates against gays and lesbians in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Will Carlson agrees.

"The question is, does this fundamental right that exists for Americans, apply to all Americans?" he said.

The U.S District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco told attorneys that Prop 8 sponsors will need to show that allowing gay couples to wed threatens traditional male-female unions.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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Carole Mikita

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