(KCPW News) More than 27,000 letters from members of a national gay rights group were delivered to Temple Square this afternoon. The letters urge The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to publicly support a handful of gay rights bills the Utah Legislature will consider in the upcoming session.
"I think it's important that we emphasize that this is a respectful request. We want to share people's concerns and feelings directly with the Church and its leaders. It's not an attack; it's simply an invitation to be a little more clear with the language," says Jerry Rapier of the Human Rights Campaign.
It's unusual for the national group to get involved in state politics, but he says the campaign in support of Equality Utah's Common Ground Initiative is an opportunity to open a dialogue with the Church, whose members helped pass California's ban on gay marriage.
Following the passage of Prop 8, a church elder issued a statement saying the church is not opposed to civil unions or domestic partnerships. But since, the Church has not clarified whether it would support such legislation. At the press conference this afternoon, Rapier says he's hopeful the campaign will convince the Church to issue such a statement.
"Really, the first step is just asking for a direct statement from the Church: something clear, concise and to the point that leaves no, um, no room for misinterpretation," Rapier says.
The letters were hand-delivered, he says, because thousands of e-mails never made it through the Church's e-mail filter. The Church has deferred commenting on the content of the letters, but spokesman Scott Trotter says the Church did not try to block the e-mails. He says because of the sheer number of them, they were filtered as spam.