First Presidency letter: "Where couples living together as man and wife have observed the requirement of their people, tribe or nation, their union should be respected by our brethren," even if it is not a legally performed marriage. Since the 1950s, church policy has reversed that Presidency's ruling in two ways: first by sanctioning and performing temple sealings for the long-term relationships of Latin American couples who are living without legal marriage (due to restrictions on divorce) even though these reltionships are defined as adulterous by the laws of their nation; second by refusing to "respect" the legitimacy of black African polygamous marriages which are legal by the laws of their tribe and nation.
[The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database ( http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase )]]
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