(KUTV) Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have issued a declaration to church members in Mexico instructing them to oppose a new initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the country.
Similar to the Church's efforts in the United States, Mormon leaders said their opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in 'religious liberty' and 'free thought'.
"We encourage members of the Church to unite our voices with those of other citizens in exercising our rights, as they are listed in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which establish and honor religious liberty, expression of beliefs and thoughts, both in public and private," LDS Mexican area authority Elder Benjamin DeHoyos said.
DeHoyos was speaking before a church congregation in Puebla, Mexico, weeks after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced an initiative to change federal law that would expand same-sex marriage, which is already legal in some states and Mexico City.
Peña Nieto proposed amending federal law to ban marriage discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, disability, social condition, religion, gender, or sexual preference.
"The Mexican State should impede discrimination in any form and assure equal rights for everyone," Peña Nieto said at his announcement in mid-May.
LDS leaders join their counterparts in the Roman Catholic Church who criticized Peña Nieto's proposal. Rev. Hugo Valdemar of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City called the initiative a "distraction."
The LDS Church asked local bishops of the Church's more than 2,000 Mexican congregations to read DeHoyos' remarks in the form a statement before upcoming meetings.
"Due to the Federal Government's recent announcement of the initiative to legalize marriage between people of the same sex in the entire country, we emphasize the Church's position on this topic as it is described in 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World," the statement reads. "We reaffirm that 'The family is ordained of God', and 'marriage between a man and a woman is essential for [God's] eternal plan'."
The statement was posted in its entirety to the LDS Church's Mexican Newsroom website.
"With this declaration, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joins the different reactions that this proposed law has triggered in the religious community, among others," the posting on the newsroom site reads.
Much like the LDS Church's attempts to influence California's proposition 8 and federal same-sex marriage laws in the United States, DeHoyos encouraged members of the church to join family and religious advocacy groups who oppose same-sex marriage.
Last year, the Mexican Supreme Court urged states to legalize same-sex marriage, but many states did not adopt the court's recommendation. Currently, same-sex couples who live in states that do not recognize gay marriage must sue to obtain a marriage license.
Peña Nieto's proposal to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide will require a two-thirds majority vote from the Mexican congress.