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How the Latter-day Saints came to back Senate’s same-sex marriage bill

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church, has taken a surprising stance in support of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA), a bill aimed at protecting same-sex marriage with bipartisan backing in Congress. This shift in position stems from a series of developments and realizations by the LDS Church leadership over the years.


In 2008, during the Proposition 8 campaign in California, the LDS Church had strongly supported a referendum that aimed to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples through a constitutional amendment. This stance led to significant controversy and a negative impact on the church's public image. The narrow approval of Proposition 8 marked a turning point for the church's leadership, prompting them to reconsider their approach to LGBTQ rights.

Over time, the LDS Church recognized that a strategy of compromise on LGBTQ rights, at least in the public sphere, could be a way forward. They understood that expanding rights for same-sex couples could also provide protections for religious groups. This realization ultimately led to the "Utah compromise" in 2015, where the LDS Church supported an anti-discrimination law in Utah that included religious-liberty protections.


The current support for the RMA is seen as an extension of this strategy. The church believes that this bill strikes a balance between protecting LGBTQ rights and religious freedom, which they see as the way forward to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.


The LDS Church's backing of the RMA is significant, as it reflects a pragmatic approach to protecting their interests, particularly in a deeply religious state like Utah. Additionally, the church's stance has helped forge closer relationships between marriage equality activists in Utah and LDS Church leaders.


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