LDS Church takes a starring role in new movie about gay rights

Park City, UT – Cache Valley Daily / Jennifer Dobbs (AP) – The Mormon Church plays a starring role in a new movie titled “8: The Mormon Proposition”. It’s a new Sundance documentary about the 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California. The film contends that the church built on decades of anti-gay teachings to justify its political activism and drove the coalition that helped pass Proposition 8. The film premiered at the festival on Sunday, and despite rumored anti-gay protests, the film’s debut played to a friendly audience on Sunday in Park City. Only about two dozen gay marriage activists chanted – “Separate, church from 8” – in a parking lot outside the premiere of “8: The Mormon Proposition.” The film by Reed Cowan, a former Utah Mormon, contends that the locally based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the driving force behind Proposition 8. The ballot initiative reversed an earlier court decision that legalized gay marriage. Before the screening, festival director John Cooper had said he expected a small, but loud, group of “haters,” might picket the film, but doubted that Mormon church members would be among them. “It’s not really the Mormon style,” said Cooper, who is gay and married his partner of 20 years last year during the window between the court ruling and election day. A Utah-based anti-gay equality group, America Forever, sent out 80,000 faxes on Friday denouncing the movie, its makers and the festival on Friday. Internet chatter among other anti-gay groups had also hinted they might come to Sundance, activist Eric Ethington said. “They must be in church today,” said Emily Pearson, one of the movie’s producers. Mormon church officials have consistently called for a polite, respectful dialogue on the issue. The church has actively fought marriage equality legislation across the U.S. since the early 1990s. Mormon leaders, however do not oppose civil unions or other limited rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as long as those rights don’t infringe on religious liberties. In the fall, the church backed a Salt Lake City ordinance that made it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in housing and employment matters.

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