Mormon Church and Utah come under fire for Proposition 8 stance

Sun. November 9, 2008 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Gay rights activists call for boycott of Utah, including Sundance Film Festival

Salt Lake City, UT - The Mormon Church, its followers and the state of Utah have been thrust to the front line in the battle over California's decision to ban same-sex marriage as more than 2,000 gay rights protesters marched around the headquarters of the Mormon Church Friday night in Salt Lake City.

On Tuesday, 51% of voters in California approved the controversial Proposition 8, the statewide ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage.

The constitutional amendment sought to eliminate the ‘right of same-sex couples to marry' by reversing a California Supreme Court ruling in May that made the state the second in the US to permit gay marriages. Tuesday's development was a setback for gay rights.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States, opposes gay marriage and encouraged its members to volunteer their time and money for the campaign to support Proposition 8. Millions of dollars in support for Proposition 8 came from Mormon Church members.

Mormons oppose homosexuality, abortion, sex outside of marriage, alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, tobacco, tea and coffee.

The Mormon Church's history came under fire during the rally. Mormons practiced polygamy through the 19th century and blacks were denied the full privileges of church membership until 1978.

Proponents of the measure say the Mormon Church is "mixing religion with politics." The Web site is calling for an end to the church's tax-exempt status.

Church officials offered no statement on the rally and march.

Gay right activists are targeting Utah's $6 billion a year tourism industry for a boycott. Salt Lake City is the world headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 62% of Utah's population is Mormon.

John Aravosis, a blogger at, is calling for skiers to boycott Utah, and asking for Hollywood actors and directors to pull out of the Sundance Film Festival held in Utah.

Vigils and marches continue throughout California including San Francisco, Palm Springs and San Diego.