Argentina is the latest country in the process of legalizing gay marriage. The lesser branch of congress in Argentina, known as the Chamber of Deputies (comparable to the U.S. House of Representatives), approved a bill on May 5th that would legalize gay marriage, as well as make adoption legal for gay couples. The Senate was due to vote on the bill today.
The LDS Church took notice of this momentum and issued a statement to be read to its members in the country this past Sunday, July 11th. There were some stark differences between what was read to members of the LDS Church in Argentina and what was read to Mormons in California in 2008. The letter read to Mormons in Argentina on Sunday was not nearly as explicit and determined as was the California letter. The California letter was a call to action while the Argentinean letter was more of a statement of belief with a reference to the church’s “Proclamation on the Family,” a document highlighting the LDS belief that the family is a fundamental and important part of society.
There was, for example, no mention of “donating your means and time” to defeat the proposed law. No mention of a broad coalition of churches uniting to prevent gay marriage. There is no mention of contacting lawmakers to express opposition to the law either. That is significant given that this is not a ballot measure, but rather a bill working its way through the legislature.
After the letter was read and made its way around the Internet, the church was contacted for further comment and as part of their response stated that “the church has taken no official position on the legislation being considered” in Argentina. While their position was made clear with regards to marriage, it is true that there has been no political push. That is a big difference from what happened just two years ago in California.
This raises the simple question of why the LDS Church merely reiterated its stance on marriage rather than making such a concerted effort as they did in California. Is it because there is such a low percentage of Mormons in Argentina compared to California, meaning they are not in the position to take the lead on the issue? About two percent of the California population is Mormon as opposed to 0.85 percent in Argentina.
Not only that, but Argentina is considered to be a more secular country, especially compared to its Latin American neighbors, making it that much more difficult to create a coalition of religions to oppose the measure. Is it because the law is viewed so favorably by Argentinians, with about a 66 percent approval rating? Is it because the LDS Church’s public relations took a serious hit in the wake of Prop 8? Or is it because the church’s position on gay marriage is evolving ever so slightly?
Whatever the reason for the change, it is becoming abundantly clear that the world is in the middle of a long conversation about gay marriage.
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