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Faith groups urge Supreme Court to uphold traditional marriage
The justices will consider whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license marriage between two people of the same sex. They will also decide whether a state must recognize legal gay marriages performed in other states - photo by Dennis Romboy
A group of 19 religious organizations has filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against same-sex marriage.

"Notwithstanding our theological differences, we are united in declaring that the traditional institution of marriage is indispensable to the welfare of the American family and society," according to the brief filed earlier this month.

"We are also united in our belief that a decision requiring the states to license or recognize same-sex marriage would generate church-state conflicts that will imperil vital religious liberties."

The varied denominations, including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the Constitution does not require states to take that "fateful" step.

The amicus brief was filed in the consolidated same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee pending before the Supreme Court. The justices will consider whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license marriage between two people of the same sex. They will also decide whether a state must recognize legal gay marriages performed in other states.

Oral arguments are scheduled for April 28. The court is expected to issue a ruling by June 30.

The LDS Church's deep belief in and commitment to marriage between a man and a woman is well-known, spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.

"While we have been outspoken proponents in favor of protections for LGBT people in such areas as housing and employment, we believe that a redefinition of marriage to include samesex couples has profoundly troubling implications for society in the long-term. We have therefore joined with many other diverse faiths representing tens of millions of Americans in expressing our views to the Supreme Court," Hawkins said.

The court brief argues that legalization of same-sex marriage across the country does far more than grant same-sex couples the right to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

Further, according to the brief, if the Supreme Court also designates sexual orientation as a class deserving special protection, like race, then "religious believers could find their speech, association, and free-exercise rights diminished or denied in areas such as public education, employment, public accommodations, and professional certification.

The brief argues that having courts resolve those complex social issues is more troublesome than having people resolve them through legislative processes in their own backyards.

"Allowing all citizens an equal voice in shaping their common destiny is the only way the diverse views of a free people can be respected on this matter of profound political, social, and religious importance," according to the brief. "That is the only way this issue can be resolved without inflicting grave harm on millions of religious believers and their cherished beliefs and institutions.

Attorneys general in 15 states filed a brief urging the court to let states decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage. They argue that the Constitution takes no sides on same-sex marriage, and therefore leaves the issue up to citizens to decide.

Brigham Young University law professor Lynn Wardle worked on a brief representing 54 international law experts from 27 countries. It says only 17 nations have legalized same-sex marriage and only Brazil did so by judicial mandate.

Experience suggests that following the normal democratic processes to decide the issue is more successful and results in more legitimate and credible outcomes than courts imposing same-sex marriage, the brief contends.

American Fork lawyer Darrin K. Johns filed a brief representing 12 gay men and their wives. It articulates why "constitutionalizing" same-sex marriage sends harmful messages about those men, their marriages and their families.

"Legalizing same-sex marriage via the 14th Amendment, rather than the ballot box, entitles same-sex couples to marriage only by erasing, marginalizing, and demeaning the same-sex attracted who live in man-woman marriages," according to the brief.
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