The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been an active participant in some past court cases involving same-sex marriage, but it doesn’t look like it will make arguments in the state of Utah’s current legal battle.
The LDS church filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the court battle over California’s Proposition 8 and in last year’s case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But church spokesperson Jessica Moody says the church has no plans to file an amicus brief in the appeal of Judge Robert Shelby’s decision that struck down Utah’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Spencer Clark, who leads the group Mormons for Equality, says the church may feel that its influence is already being felt in the Utah case.
Clark tells KUER, “The church is probably confident that they don’t need to speak as loudly in Utah because so many of the leaders in state government and the population shares their view, so they don’t need to risk further attention or criticism from the public by stepping in.”
John Dehlin, who produces the MormonStories podcast, says the trend across the country appears to be turning in favor of same-sex marriage, and there may be other concerns keeping the church from intervening in the case.
“I think they want to avoid, wherever they can, painting themselves into a corner," Dehlin says. "I think they want to avoid alienating their younger, more youthful, more progressive members.”
Even though it’s not planning to file a brief in the case, the church has made its position clear. It issued a public statement shortly after the decision that said the church “remains firm in its conviction that marriage between a man and a woman is deserving of protection because of its value to society."
Other opponents of same-sex marriage may go ahead and state their case to the courts. The Deseret News reports State Representative LaVar Christensen, the sponsor of Amendment 3 in the Utah legislature, told a gathering in Utah County yesterday that he’s planning to file a friend of the court brief in the case. Christensen did not respond to a request for comment from KUER.