Question: Was “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” drafted by lawyers in Hawaii in response to legal concerns the Church had over the legalization of gay marriage?

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Question: Was “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” drafted by lawyers in Hawaii in response to legal concerns the Church had over the legalization of gay marriage?

The Proclamation was already being written by Elders Faust, Nelson, and Oaks when the Hawaii case came up

It is claimed by some that “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was drafted by lawyers in Hawaii in response to legal concerns the Church had over the legalization of gay marriage. This is clearly not the case:

During the fall of 1994, at the urging of its Acting President, Boyd K. Packer, the Quorum of the Twelve discussed the need for a scripture-based proclamation to set forth the Church’s doctrinal position on the family. A committee consisting of Elders Faust, Nelson, and Oaks was assigned to prepare a draft. Their work, for which Elder Nelson was the principal draftsman, was completed over the Christmas holidays. After being approved by the Quorum of the Twelve, the draft was submitted to the First Presidency on January 9, 1995, and warmly received.


Over the next several months, the First Presidency took the proposed proclamation under advisement and made needed amendments. Then on September 23, 1995, in the general Relief Society meeting held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and broadcast throughout the world, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” publicly for the first time.

During the period that the proclamation was being drafted, Church leaders grew concerned about efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Hawaii. As that movement gained momentum, a group of Church authorities and Latter-day Saint legal scholars, including Elder Oaks, recommended that the Church oppose the Hawaii efforts….[1]

Boyd K. Packer gives additional context

Boyd K. Packer gave further context to the Proclamation’s Origin:

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issued a proclamation on the family. I can tell you how that came about. They had a world conference on the family sponsored by the United Nations in Beijing, China. We sent representatives. It was not pleasant what they heard. They called another one in Cairo. Some of our people were there. I read the proceedings of that. The word marriage was not mentioned. It was at a conference on the family, but marriage was not even mentioned. It was then they announced that they were going to have such a conference here in Salt Lake City. Some of us made the recommendation: "They are coming here. We had better proclaim our position.”[2]

The doctrines have long been taught by the Church

The doctrines contained within the Proclamation are doctrines long taught by the Church. We address this elsewhere on the wiki.

Many of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants started out as similar documents

Some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants started out as (1) council minutes, (2) official statements of church policy written by lawyers like Oliver Cowdery, (3) letters written by Joseph Smith, (4) excerpts from peoples’ notes recording things that Joseph Smith taught. Examples include D&C 130 and 134. More may be found by reading the headings of the revelations. Those who are bothered by a revelation or doctrinal disquisition being first drafted by others may be comforted knowing that many revelations have been ratified in similar ways.

Notes

  1. Richard E. Turley Jr., In the Hands of the Lord: The Life of Dallin H. Oaks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2021), 215.
  2. Boyd K. Packer, "The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character," CES Fireside (2 February 2003).