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The LDS (Mormon) Church & homosexuality

Church statements: Year 2010 to now

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Previous church statements are described in a separate essay

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Events:

2010: Responses to Elder Boyd Packer's sermon:

The Human Rights Campaign® (HRC) prepared an open letter to Elder Packer commenting on his sermon. They asked him to "make it right" It reads:

"Dear Elder Packer,

I'm appalled that you chose this moment to deliver a sermon saying same-sex attraction is unnatural and same-sex unions are immoral. You have risked further alienating LGBT youth and potentially contributing to suicides of even more vulnerable young people. You've told them that their very identities are "impure and unnatural" and you've incited the violence and bullying that often drives them to suicide by repeating lies disproven by both science and the experience of millions of Americans who know their LGBT neighbors and care about them.

I hope you will cease putting young people in real peril and acknowledge the scientific truth: sexual orientation cannot be changed, nor should it be." 1

The HRC claims that 100,000 people have signed the above petition. Joe Solmonese, president of the HRC is planning to take the signatures to Utah on OCT-12, where he will hold a joint press conference with Affirmation and the Utah Pride Center. He hoped to hand-deliver the petitions to Elder Packer. It is unclear whether he was successful.

The following You Tube video shows speeches by pro-equality individuals at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City on OCT-12:

The Church issued a statement on Elder Packer's talk:

"The Church’s doctrine on the importance of marriage and family and its implications for same-gender marriage are very clear and are based on principles of truth, respect, and love for all of God’s children. We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone."

"The recent general conference addresses of church leaders can be viewed in their entirety at www.lds.org. Additional important material can be found at www.newsroom.lds.org."

"This material will help anyone looking for more information on these important issues." 2

The HRC also issued a statement. It said, in part:

"... 'Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide,' said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. 'When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous'."

"As a church leader immersed in these issues, Packer should know better. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that 'reparative' therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church -- is unhealthy and harmful. This is not the first instance in which the church has spewed lies related to same-sex orientation. Last summer, another senior member of the church’s hierarchy, promised that same-sex attraction could be cured. 'If you are faithful, on resurrection morning – and maybe even before then – you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex,' Mormon Church leader Bruce Haffen told a conference. ..." 2

The ABC TV station KTVX in Salt Lake City, UT conducted an online survey of their web site visitors. They asked: "Do you agree with President Packer's statement on homosexuality and same-sex marriage?" Results were 65.8% No and 34.2% Yes -- almost a 2:1 ratio repudiating President Packer's beliefs. If these numbers are an accurate representation of the beliefs of citizens of Utah, then the Church's teaching is clearly being ignored by a strong majority of adults, and perhaps even a majority of adult Mormons.

A meta-study conducted by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips of Columbia University indicated that in 2009, support for same-sex marriage (SSM) in Utah was at 14%, while the other 49 states and the District of Columbia ranged from 21 to 55%. Utah was also unique in that their support for SSM actually dropped between 2003-4 and 2008-9. Support for SSM in all of the other states increased over that five-year interval by up to 10 percentage points.

As of 2013, support for SSM across the U.S. is on the order of 55%. It is worth noting that public support for SSM is particularly high in those political jurisdictions that have already legalized SSM like the state of Massachusetts and the 10 provinces and 3 territories of Canada.

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2012-APR: Group at Brigham Young University issues an "It Gets Better" video:

The It Gets Better Project was founded in 2005-FEB:

"... to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positively their lives will reach -- if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better."

Their web site:

"... is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It's a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. It's a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support, and seek help. 3

As of 2012-APR-10, their web site has had about 44,000 subscribers and 3.4 million views of their videos!

A student group -- "Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA)" -- at BYU 4 produced its own "It Gets Better"  video:

 5

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2012-OCT-11: Apostle Dallin H. Oaks delivers speech opposing same-sex marriage:

 6

This video is a 4 minute excerpt from a longer speech delivered at a Mormon conference and viewed by 14 million people worldwide in 150 languages.

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2013-DEC-20: Federal District court legalizes same-sex marriage in Utah. LDS Church responds:

On election day back in 2004-NOV, voters in 11 states passed an amendment to their state Constitution that restricted marriage only to the union of one woman and one man. Some went further and banned civil unions as well. Utah was one of the latter. Utah's Amendment 3 reads:

  1. "Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman."

  2. "No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect."

The first clause banned same-sex marriage. The second clause banned civil unions in the state.

In 2013, three same-sex couples from Utah launched a lawsuit "Kitchen et al v. Herbert et al." in Utah federal District Court. Two of the couples wanted to marry. The third couple had earlier been married legally in another state and wanted Utah to recognize their marriage. On 2013-DEC-20, federal judge Robert J. Shelby of the U.S. District Court for Utah issued a 53 page ruling declaring Amendment 3 to be unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Almost instantly, loving, committed same-sex couples who had previously been recognized by the state as mere roommates converged on country offices by the hundreds to purchase marriage licenses.

On the same day, Cody Craynor, spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement saying:

"The church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be [only] between a man and a woman, and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court." 7

Among religious conservatives, the term "support of traditional marriage" means more than it appear to say. The term actually means to support opposite-sex marriage and simultaneously opposing marriage by same-sex couples. Religious liberals, secularists, etc. generally support traditional marriage between opposite-sex couples and also support marriages between same-sex couples.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Mormon leader gives anti-gay sermon after suicides – Sign the open letter!," Human Rights Campaign, at: https://secure3.convio.net/
  2. Chris Vanocur, "Gay rights organization calls on Elder Packer to 'correct' statements," ABC4.com, 2010-OCT-04, at: http://www.abc4.com/
  3. "It Gets Better Project," has a web site at: http://www.youtube.com/
  4. "USGA - Understanding Same-Gender Attraction" has a Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/
  5. The USGA video is available at: http://youtu.be/
  6. Apostle Oaks' video is available at: http://youtu.be/
  7. Mori Kessler, "Federal judge strikes down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban," St George, Utah, 2013-DEC-20 at: http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/

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Copyright 2010 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-JAN-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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