A call for mutual respect, civility

With protests and isolated incidents of vandalism, threats and intimidation carrying over into the second week after the Nov. 4 approval by California voters of Proposition 8 in that state, the First Presidency has issued a statement underscoring the democratic process involved and the need for "mutual respect and civility towards each other."

Demonstrations have occurred outside temples in several California cities as well as in Salt Lake City and New York City since the Nov. 4 elections, which in California resulted in an approved amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The First Presidency's Nov. 14 statement reads:

"Since the people of California voted to reaffirm the sanctity of traditional marriage between a man and a woman on November 4, 2008, places of worship have been targeted by opponents of Proposition 8 with demonstrations and, in some cases, vandalism. People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights. These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America.

"The Church is keenly aware of the differences of opinion on this difficult and sensitive matter. The reasons for this principled stand in defense of marriage have already been articulated elsewhere. However, some of what we have seen since Californians voted to pass Proposition 8 has been deeply disappointing.

"Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues. People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal. Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere.

"We call upon those who have honest disagreements on this issue to urge restraint upon the extreme actions of a few that are further polarizing our communities and urge them to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other."

More than 40 states in the United States have now voted to protect traditional marriage, either directly or through their elected representatives.

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