(KCPW News) LDS parents, friends and supporters of gays and lesbians will gather Sunday at Library Square in Salt Lake City for a candlelight vigil, just two days before California voters decide whether to ban same-sex marriage. Gary Watts says the event began when a group of LDS mothers decided they wanted to do something to show their support for the gay community.
"We feel that our gay kids deserve everything that our straight kids do. And that's the right to associate with people that they're attracted to, and to fall in love and to be involved in relations, committed relationships, similar to the straight people," Watts says. "And as a parent of, actually, two gay children, I want nothing more from my kids than someone to share their life with just like my straight kids do."
Watts says it's been painful to watch the campaigning in support of California's Proposition 8, which would overturn the state's legalization of same sex unions. He believes gays have a fundamental right to marry. And as a fifth-generation Mormon, he says the Church's support of the Proposition 8 campaign has also been difficult.
Watts says the Church's policies on homosexuality have caused many to leave the church, and caused others to question their faith.
"They don't recognize the enormity of the loss of the gay population from the Church," Watts says. "The gay people have so much they can contribute, but they don't feel welcomed. And so they end up leaving. And in addition to them from leaving the Church, their families have a significant decrease in their loyalty and affiliation with the Church."
Watts believes the Church also suffers when members use its policies to justify what he feels is discrimination against gays. However, Watts says the vigil on Sunday is not intended to be a protest against the Church. Rather, he says it's a peaceful demonstration to support the gay community.