SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it regrets a federal judge’s ruling overturning a ban on gay marriage in California.Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights.In 2008, church leaders urged Mormons to give their time and money to support Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote.Church members were among the campaign’s most vigorous volunteers and by some estimates contributed tens of millions of dollars to the effort.That involvement frequently made the church a target for much of the anger gay rights supporters felt after California voters approved the ballot measure. Some people also decided to boycott Utah – home to church headquarters – as a result of its involvement, although the impact was minimal.The church said the decision reopens a vigorous debate over the right of the people to define marriage.”There is no doubt that today’s ruling will add to the marriage debate in this country and we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion,” church spokeswoman Kim Farah wrote in a statement.Like many faiths, Mormons believe traditional marriage is an institution established by God. The church has consistently fought gay marriage legislation across the U.S. since the 1990s.”California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman. We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society,” Farah wrote.The church has no official position on civil unions but has said it does not object to limited rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as long as those rights don’t infringe on religious liberties.
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