WASHINGTON, March 8 (AP)--The spiritual leader of the world's nearly 11 million Mormons said Wednesday he was pleased Californians voted to bar gay marriages.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints generally does not involve itself in politics, but President Gordon B. Hinckley said banning same-sex marriages is a "moral issue of great importance" that warranted its opposition.

"I don't think it signals a more active political posture" for the church, Hinckley said at the National Press Club. "We are not anti-gay. We are pro-family. We want to emphasize that."

California's Proposition 22, which prohibits that state from recognizing any marriages other than those between a man and a woman, passed overwhelmingly Tuesday with 60 percent of the vote.

Hinckley said that while the church exhorts Mormons to vote and be involved politically, it does not endorse candidates and usually avoids taking a stand on legislation or ballot measures.

"We do very little politically. We look at Washington and smile," said Hinckley, 89, the leader and prophet of the church since 1995.

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