- October 21, 2015
In a speech before an interfaith gathering in Sacramento on religion and the law, a senior leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asserted that public officials, no matter their personal religious beliefs, should not deny same-sex couples their right to marry.
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, in an address to judges and clergy, asserted that public officials “are not free to apply personal convictions — religious or other — in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices."
Though he didn’t mention her by name, Oaks’ words directly reference Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., Clerk, who continues to violate the law by openly discriminating against same-sex couples seeking to marry in the community they call home.
“A county clerk's recent invoking of religious reasons to justify refusal by her office and staff to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates this principle,” said Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice who centered his remarks on a list of principles aimed at resolving differences on church and state issues.
"On the big issues ... both sides should seek a balance, not a total victory," Oaks said. "For example, religionists should not seek a veto over all non-discrimination laws that offend their religion, and the proponents of non-discrimination should not seek a veto over all assertions of religious freedom."
The senior apostle, Oaks is second in line to become prophet and president of Latter-day Saints Church. In recent years, Mormon hierarchy has increasingly called for civility and mutual understanding in dialogue about issues ranging from non-discrimination and immigration to religious freedom.
Earlier this year, religious leaders from across the country added their names to a historic statement calling for an end to “religious refusal” bills that allow discrimination against LGBT people.