In a speech this week about the boundaries between church and state, Dallin Oaks, a high-ranking apostle in the church, said that public officials like Ms. Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Ky., had a duty to follow the law, despite their religious convictions.
“Office holders remain free to draw upon their personal beliefs and motivations and advocate their positions in the public square,” Elder Oaks said. “But when acting as public officials, they are not free to apply personal convictions, religious or other, in place of the defined responsibilities of their public offices. All government officers should exercise their civil authority according to the principles and within the limits of civil government.”
The Mormon Church once stood at the forefront of the fight against same-sex marriage with its support of a 2008 California ballot measure, known as Proposition 8, that limited marriage to a man and a woman. But that advocacy brought a backlash from outside the church as well as from its own members, and since then, the church has modulated its tone and positions on some gay rights issues.