The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking California members to join the effort to amend that state's constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
A letter sent to Mormon bishops and signed by church president Thomas S. Monson and his two top counselors calls on Mormons to donate "means and time" to the ballot measure. A note on the letter dated June 20 says it should be read during church services on June 29, but the letter was published Saturday on several Web sites.
Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Monday that the letter was authentic. He declined further comment, saying the letter explains the church's reasons for getting involved.
The LDS church will work with a coalition of churches and other conservative groups that put the California Marriage Protection Act on the Nov. 4 ballot to assure its passage, the letter states.
In May, California's Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, saying gays could not be denied marriage licenses.
"The church's teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the formation of families is central to the Creator's plan for His children," the four-paragraph letter states.
"We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to ensure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman," church leaders say in the letter. "Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage."
California Mormons - there are more than 750,000, according to a church almanac - have heard and heeded similar calls from their leaders before.
In 2000, a letter from the pulpit asked members to give time and money in support of Proposition 22, a ballot measure prohibiting California from legally recognizing gay marriages performed outside the state. It passed but was later struck down by the courts.
As a member of the LDS faith, I wholeheartedly endorse and support those efforts. It is disturbing to me that the voice of the people has not been heard above the shrill cries of a few. I served a two-year volunteer mission in southern California. Relatives were recently called to serve as mission President and matron of the San Diego temple.
I even have a gay friend who I grew up with that used to be active in the Church that now lives in California. While I love my friend, I do not believe his views of what a family is and should be are correct, assuming he is likewise on board with gay marriage.
No, I believe, as LDS Church doctrine states, that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
And, moreover, we believe that "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Read more here.