Reactions to ‘The Policy’: November 2015

On the 2nd anniversary of what has become known simply as the “Policy,” or sometimes the “Exclusion Policy,” I wanted to post stories of how people were affected by it. Shortly after news of the policy began circulating, I began collecting reactions as they were posted to social media, blogposts, news stories or shared with me.

The Policy, in short, defines gay couples (married or not) as apostates, and suggest church disciplinary action. It also bars the children of gay couples from being baptized, or if already church members, further advancement with their peers. Upon age 18, baptism or advancement (such as going on missions, or to the temple) requires children of gay couples to disavow gay marriage.

I am including only stories from the month of November, 2015, although I collected many more.

I believe that everyone should keep in mind the results of the Policy at ground level — the human element — regardless of one’s opinion of the merit of the policy.


“I have a friend who’s daughter was scheduled to be baptized tomorrow. She shares joint custody with her gay former husband. Because of this new policy, the daughter’s baptism has been cancelled.”

· November 8, 2015


“I have a friend at a BYU university, she has 2 Moms who raised her in the church. One Mom is active in the church. She lives away at school. Tonight she got a call from the Stake president at the university wanting to discuss her relationship with her family. She didn’t know about the announcement at the time and had to ask some questions. She has an appointment already where she understands/expects that she will be expected to disavow her family AND not return home to live with them between terms. She is 20. If she doesn’t agree to kick herself out of her family she will be kicked out of BYU. That is the reality. There is no rosey rationalization for this. Its just wrong.”

· November 8, 2015


I am the mother of two gay son’s , and the daughter of a gay father- So I was thinking on what levels this whole thing is disturbing to me…. Level one : Is of course my two sons- they do not matter to the organization in any way shape or form -they are expendable -just remove them from ever being given the chance of love from the Savior!

Level two : Our oldest son has been with his partner for 11 years and his partner has a son from a very brief marriage-they co-parent this son with his mother! His mother’s family are very active LDS , she lives in a ward who have been incredibly supportive of them since the death of her husband last spring of a brain tumor! The ward has reached out to their son, invited him to activities (he is 15) and on scout trips! So now this young man, were he to decide that he might like to join the church would be told no- unless he never visited his dad and my son again, and denounced their lifestyle – an impossible position for a child who loves his father??

Level three: me- so I am the daughter of a gay man that lived with his partner for 20 years before he died in his partner’s arms! Forty four years ago I was baptized a member of the church, were this the policy back then, I would have been told that I could not get baptized, could not serve a mission, could not work at the MTC , could not be hired as a CES teacher, could not get married in the temple (even if my mother was left standing outside by herself) could not attend the temple for 39 years weekly , could not pay tithing for 44 years, not send my three sons on honorable missions , could not serve 22 years in young women’s , serve in a primary presidency, serve as a Young Woman’s President, as a Relief Society President, serve in a Stake Relief Society presidency- All of this would have been denied me if I were to choose the love that I had for my father over an institution ‘s insistence that I completely reject that person who gave me life !!!

· November 8, 2015


(photo of happy family)

Up until last night this has been my story.

But the reported and confirmed changes to the Church Handbook of Instruction in regards to the children of gay parents has thrown me into a bizarro, Sliding Doors world and now it is impossible for me not to write my “what-if” story.

What if this policy had been in place in 1991, the same year I turned 8 years old? What if my parents’ marriage had disintegrated, as most mixed-orientation marriages do? And what if my father had done the entirely human thing and pursued a new relationship with a man he loved and was attracted to?

The policy is clear…I could not have been baptized.

Then what? I know I would have been devastated. In my existing story, church was one of the few places of comfort for me as a child–I can only imagine it would be more so if I was dealing with the break up of my family. Don’t, for one second, think you would have been protecting me from anything–not being allowed to be baptized would have been a source of deep sorrow and shame for me. Not to mention what this would have done to my mother, who was and is a committed member of the church. This would have absolutely broken her heart. To add that burden on her after all that she carried…there are no words for that cruelty. …

What is most tragic to me is that we don’t have to play a hypothetical, if/then game with my life. There are children today who are suffering because of this incomprehensible and thoroughly unjustifiable policy. I know of two children whose baptisms were scheduled for tomorrow but have had their saving ordinances cancelled because their fathers are in gay relationships. Think of what we have just done to their lives. We should be so ashamed.

One more thing, the church has just thrown a bomb into our midst without one word of explanation or clarification. There are very real people who no longer know what their status is in the church and in the eternities. Our stories changed last night. I, myself, have to wonder when I will have to start paying for the proverbial sins of my father? My mother is several years older than my father and has a chronic illness; it is within the realm of possibilities that my father could have a male partner at some point. And what then? Do I have to disavow him to keep my temple recommend? Is it possible that I could lose my membership and saving ordinances? If I refuse to condemn my father–which I absolutely do–why should I be able to keep my covenants when another child of a gay parent who does the same thing isn’t allowed to make them? This policy is so cruel and ill-conceived that I cannot even begin to articulate the depth of my anger and contempt. …

This is not of God.

· November 8, 2015


A close friend is in her Primary Presidency. A little boy in her Primary has been attending with friends, and he’s excited to be baptized next month when he turns 8.

But he lives with two moms, so that plan is going to have change.

And my friend is distraught that she’ll have to be the one to tell him.

· November 8, 2015


I’ve hesitated to post this because I don’t want to turn my family into a political statement. However, the LDS Church with its recent policy change regarding children of same-sex couples has turned my family into something political, and I cannot remain silent about this.

… we [former wife and this gay man] have come to the conclusion that our kids will be raised in the church, and I honor that decision because I value my relationship with them and their mother. On weekends that they stay with me and XXXX, I’ll take them to church. When my sons speak in primary or in the primary program, XXXX and I are there to support them and their involvement in the church. …

Now, because my boys live with me part time, they are excluded from membership in the church unless they receive approval from the First Presidency. Children of felons and rapists don’t even have such a harsh punishment. I’m really hurting. Just when I thought that I had found a way to live with tolerance toward the church they’ve come out and attacked my family in a very personal way.

· November 8, 2015


I have watched both sides of this debate regarding the changes to the LDS handbook of instructions as it pertains to children of a parent involved in a same gender relationship, rage on for the last 24 hours. I can’t remain silent because this affects me on a deeply personal level. My three beautiful children are the product of my former marriage to a gay man. My ex-husband is an incredible human being with a very generous and compassionate heart. I loved him when we were married and I still love him to this day …

When my ex-husband and I divorced we agreed that our children would continue to be raised LDS. While I know my ex-husband has a number of issues with the LDS church to his credit he has been incredibly supportive of raising our children LDS. He has attended baptisms, we have always worked out our custody schedule so that the kids can attend church… Likewise I don’t disparage my ex-husband and his partner to my children. I NEVER want my children to have to choose between their religion and their father. My ex-husband is the father of my kids and they LOVE him. …

… MY CHILD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS/HER FATHER BEING IN A SAME GENDER RELATIONSHIP. Not to mention that my ex-husband has been nothing but supportive of my children and their relationship with the church. Finally God forbid that something happens to me, my children would be living full time with their dad and his partner. Then what??? Then there would be no question and that my children’s ability to continue to advance in the church will come to a complete stop until they turn 18, and even then they can only continue if discontinue living with their father …

So as you read the raging debate on this new policy please keep in mind that my beautiful children who have deep testimonies of the gospel along with their mother bear the weight of this change much more heavily than most.

· November 8, 2015


I just had a heartbreaking conversation with a woman who is simply beside herself with grief. She and her wife have two children (7 and 4) who they have raised in the church. Her son has literally been marking the days off of a calendar that he made–which says, “8 is great” next to a picture of the temple.

For the last year, all this little boy has talked about is getting baptized. He even told his parents that he wants to go to a “grown up” restaurant afterward, because he’s certain he’ll be much more mature after becoming an official member of the church.

Now his parents are burdened with the task of trying to explain why he’ll have to wait 10 years to follow the example of Christ, and only if he renounces the love shared between his parents. The same two people who sacrificed everything to raise him. He will also be compelled to move out of his parents home.

I just don’t understand it. I get that the church isn’t down with the gays. But why punish children for it? What kind of message is this sending to impressionable, developing minds?

-Children with parents who are complete assholes can be baptized.

-Children with parents who are arrested for starting ponzi-schemes–screwing people out of their retirement–can be baptized.

-Children with parents who are rapists and murderers can be baptized.

But if your parents happen to be gay, you’re gonna have to find a different pond. …

Punishing innocent children this way is a very particular kind of twisted. And I refuse to stand by it.

· November 8, 2015


From a Plain Putter: “I AM THAT KID”

Name: Audrey O’Brien Age: 35 My Story: “I am that kid.”

From a Plain Putter: “I AM THAT KID”

· November 8, 2015


I Am The Daughter of Lesbians, And I Am A Mormon

Today my heart is breaking. Not because my church has decided to make children of homosexual couples wait until they’re eighteen to be baptized, but because so many of my brothers and sisters are struggling with the decision, some even going so far as to say that the decision has destroyed their testimony in the truthfulness of the church.

I was raised in a homosexual household from the time I was three until I was eighteen. I was fortunate enough to have a mother that allowed me to attend church and would take me to practically any one I desired to go to. In some ways she set up my eventual discovery and acceptance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because she always encouraged me to ask questions, and not believe something just become someone else told me it was true. She also told me to be skeptical of people, and in a way, this paved the way for me to learn how to receive personal revelation and understand its importance.

When I learned last night of the Church’s decision toward the children of gays I was initially in disbelief. …

And so when I read the Church’s decision I immediately began wondering why. So far this has never failed me as I believe that Heavenly Father wants us to understand why things are the way they are so far as we are able to comprehend them. I never doubted that the decision was not of divine origin and the more I pondered, the more thoughts and impression began to come to me.

… feeling like we have to choose between our families and something else is excruciating. There were many times in my childhood that I felt torn between my beliefs and my mothers’ choices. I have personally spoken out disagreeing with the way I was raised and homosexual marriage and it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I cannot imagine what it would be like for a child to sit in a bishop’s office and disavow the marriage or relationship of his or her parents. Having children wait until they are eighteen takes this huge burden off of the children’s shoulders and ensures that the children are at a point in their lives where they can make eternal decisions with greater understanding. …

Mormon family leaves faith following controversial announcement

http://www.kivitv.com/

· November 8, 2015


Tom Christofferson (gay brother of apostle Todd Christofferson):

“At the same time of walking this path in faith and hope it is also incumbent on me and all of us who have had our hearts broken over this to reach out much more in love and acceptance to those who are affected by this and whatever they think the best path is for themselves at this moment. That they know we love them, we know they are hurting, and that we know the Savior loves them as well.”

· November 8, 2015


I called my son last night and told him that I would never put conditions on my love for him. I told him there would always be a place for him in our family equal to everyone else! And unlike our church, I believe that Christ would treat all of God’s children equally with love and respect.

· November 8, 2015


When our child’s bio mom learned more about Mormonism (after she had already placed her child with us), she was very scared of how we would treat our child if they ever decided to “live a different lifestyle”. She had heard horrible stories of gay and lesbian individuals being disowned by their Mormon family. We assured her that our parenting style is to help our child be the best version of themselves, that it was our job to provide appropriate love and support regardless of differing opinions (ours or the churches). “Family is the most important thing” we said. Our child’s bio mom identifies as bi-sexual and I am sick about how to make sense of this new policy to her. How to explain that we raise her child in a church that would require 18 year olds to verbally disavow their parents in order to be baptized. How will I handle my child’s questions when they ask why their bio mom’s same sex marriage is akin to murder and rape? … my heart aches for those of you whose will have to explain this policy to your children who can not be members till they are adults.

· November 14, 2015


… Our daughters have two grandparents they deeply love, uncles and aunts and cousins who they cherish. All who are Mormon. And, in spite of the fact that I was excommunicated and we’ve left active membership in the faith, and in spite of the fact that the church spent millions and hours to take away our legal rights of marriage for our family in 2008, we have always taught our children to respect the faith of their family. … She has a healthy respect, even an admiration, for the faith of her family.

But now, she and our younger daughter will see this and see that not only does the church disagree with us, but they despise us so much that they also despise our children. That they are tainted so much that they can’t become members of the church without renouncing the parents they love deeply, who raised them and comforted them.

I fear this will have a very detrimental effect on our daughters’ view of their family and of their selves. It’s so deeply sad, and brings up my protective anger.

It is the last straw for me. Excommunication and the Prop 8 battle to take away my rights I can handle, even forgive. Tell my children they are ‘less than’ and hurt them and well… I’m done with you. I will never defend the church or faith again, or anyone’s complicit acceptance or defense of it’s egregious view.

· November 14, 2015


I have two beautiful children. Their father, who I married in the temple, is gay. We are no longer married. I have remained faithful. Fulfilled callings, attend regularly, we read scriptures and have fhe…they have both been baptized already, but this, this right here will be the breaking point. I cannot, will not ask them to choose between the church and their father. I will not ask them to “disavow” him in order to stay in a church that doesn’t want them. My heart is broken for the church I wanted to remain in, so I that I could affect positive change from within. I won’t now. I can’t. I can’t raise my kids in a church that divides families. This is the breaking point. I am not leaving the church. It left me.

· November 14, 2015


I am a convert who was baptized in my mid-20s. I met an inactive Mormon man and was introduced to the church through him. Not long after, I was baptized and he became active again. Eventually, we got married in the temple. I have served for several years in an auxiliary presidency, which I love. I am very engaged in our ward and the Gospel.

However, if this policy had been in place before I was baptized, I would never have become a member. Never been baptized. Never married in the temple. Never served in my callings. Never endowed. My husband would likely still be inactive.

My parents were married once upon a time and then divorced after having me and my siblings. Both of my parents are in committed same sex relationships (cohabitation/civil union). My parents taught me love, faith, charity, service, and tolerance. They taught me that family comes first and in this, when I expressed interest in the LDS church, they supported me. When I wanted to get baptized, they supported that decision, too. When I got married in the temple, without a single member of my family there, they gulped back tears and anger and made the decision to be tolerant, supportive, and loving and to put family first.

They would not ever specifically disavow me or my marriage. They love my husband dearly and see how happy he makes me. And I love their partners just as deeply, especially because they make my parents happy but not only because of that.

For me to have been qualified for baptism, I would meet some of the criteria. Surely I was over 18 and not living with them. But my church would have asked me to disavow their relationships. To deny the beauty, peace, happiness, and love therein and to say it is a sin. I could never in a million years.

So here I am. Stuck. Taking shallow breaths to avoid sobs. I am lost at what to say or do. How to process that my church doesn’t want me. That it would have nothing to do with me.

I’ve always justified being a member because of my testimony and because I felt I could do more to change hearts from within than without. Those reasons may stand but the fact of the matter remains…

My church does not want me.

· November 14, 2015


Axxxx was baptized in February. Axxxx and Sxxxx will continue to go to the LDS church every other week as they spend court ordered parent time with their mother.

There is no way for that to change. In other words these kids (and literally thousands just like them) will still be going to the Mormon church regardless of the fact that they have two dads (or two moms).

You see, a large majority of LDS kids with gay parents also have a straight parent. Remember how that was set up by the church–I have personally sat in bishops, stake presidents, and even an apostles office and been told of the importance for me to marry a woman. All reassured me that I could and that it would be the best choice for me.

My children attending the LDS church is something that happens. … twice a month our two kids spend 3 hours in an LDS church– and with the first new change they will now be taught that their Dad and XXXX are not only the “improper definition of family” but so many other and in many ways worse things. Disciplinary council MAY be necessary for attempted murder, rape, sexual abuse, deliberate abandonment of family. Disciplinary council is mandatory for legally getting married.

Placing our family makeup on worse grounds then those above is sick, disturbing, and has a skewed priority list on life.

However that’s the least of the trouble.

[Our kids] won’t only be attending church on Sunday, they will have that LDS influence, understanding, language, and talk around them while at their mothers house, and while at their grandparents houses, at their aunts and uncles houses, when talking with cousins, and for the majority of their friends.

Unless we move out of the state they will be involved with the church and its teachings in more ways than not. (It’s important to note that we can’t move out of the state or we lose more custody of the kids). And now these teachings include one that has a consequence for both of them for the choice that their parent has made. The choice was to be happy and healthy and marry the person he loves. Even the church recognizes that that is the choice…which is a very different policy/doctrine then it used to teach about gay people. It is great to acknowledge that people are gay, and that part isn’t a choice.

Back to the kids, xxxx chose to get baptized. We had many talks about it and it was something he wanted to do. His gay dads supported that choice, we were at the baptism, so was his gay uncle. Two of his LDS aunts spoke at the baptism, and two of his LDS grandpas performed the baptism and confirmation. The only part that looked any different from any other baptism is that the stake saw two dads standing and supporting their kid and having a happy, healthy, loving, family.

Now if Sxxxx chooses to be baptized she will be told no. How is that to make sense to her? And who is she going to ‘blame’? “Sxxxx you can’t be baptized because you have gay dads” 1. So did Axxxx and he was baptized. 2 the church by having that be “the reason” and in reality the only reason they have given is moving the responsibility of the why from them and onto the parent. In order for the policy to make sense it would seem that my not even 9 year old will have to be excommunicated in order to “protect him”.

· November 8, 2015


Shared by a gay Mormon father. I think it says it all: “I am sitting in regional conference with my kids. Our opening hymn was ‘For the Beauty of the Earth.’ When we got to this verse I began to tear up”:

“For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth, and friends above,

For all gentle thoughts and mild.”

I was struck that in light of this new policy change I was still in church with my children singing about HUMAN love. Singing about parental love. I then realized that policy is not doctrine.

Human love is beautiful because love is beautiful. And love is beautiful because God is love.

Penalties on human love, be it with another person or with one’s children, cannot endure. Today I am filled with hope because I believe that in the end all things will yield to LOVE.

And at this moment it is not yet the end.

· November 14, 2015


I am a lesbian. I’ve been out to my family for about five years, and they have just started to accept the fact that I want to have my own family. It’s been a long road–we went from not speaking to awkward conversations to real conversations to a tentative acceptance. My mom finally met my girlfriend. She finally said to me, I hope and believe the church will change. Other family members haven’t been willing to meet my girlfriend, but they have acknowledged that she exists and they at least invite me to things even if they don’t invite her.

After five years, that’s where we are. It was a long, hard road but I was feeling good with even these small steps forward.

Now? Now the church says that if I get married I’ll be an apostate. My family will now feel pressure to refuse to attend my wedding or acknowledge my marriage. They will mourn my marriage instead of celebrating it. They will discourage me from having children, knowing that those children wouldn’t be able to attend church or get baptized.

Now, we start over. This change will scare my family again. Even though I don’t have children, this change is hurting my family. Terribly. I am devastated.”

· November 8, 2015


My son has a gay father because in 1985 a beautiful, young, returned missionary was trying his best to live up to every standard and teaching ever taught to him by the LDS church. He tried with his whole heart for over 20 years and finally could not do it any more, the struggle was destroying him. He now lives in a committed, monogamous, same-sex marriage and is happier than I’ve ever known him to be. He is gay. He did not choose it, he can’t change it, and it’s not his fault. He is a whole and happy (as anyone can be in mortality), human being. He is gay and he is my son’s father. No one is to blame for my son having a gay father, especially my son!

For many years I’ve thought that perhaps my son would eventually embrace his mother’s church, his father’s former church. Now it would seem unwise for him to do so. …

I wonder what will happen to my son’s “Born in the Covenant” status. Is it possible to be “Born in the Covenant” when one parent is now considered an apostate? …

Today I do not feel any more sad or disenfranchised than I ever did. Mine has been a long and painful journey and in many respects continues to be so. However, today I know that my son would not have have been welcomed to church membership as a minor and that is horrifying. It was my bishop, my home teacher, my ward community that sustained us through the years that our eternal family came apart. How could that community have done its soul-saving work had my son not been welcome?”

· November 8, 2015


This new policy guarantees that if my partner and I marry, she will be excommunicated. The only reason she hasn’t resigned from the church is because her parents and younger siblings believe strongly in the church, and she literally doesn’t want to break their hearts by removing her name from the records. This has made it impossible for her to avoid excommunication if the church finds her and decides to pursue discipline for our loving and wholesome relationship, which is going to cause a huge rift and uncomfortable dynamic between her and her family. They will continually be reminded that she is not protected by covenants, and neither will her family. It is a huge potentially stressful situation, and all caused because we are unable to change the fact that we are gay and the church refuses to believe we are valid feeling human beings and not unpardonable sinners.

Furthermore, my son is now considered to be like a son of perdition and lower in status than all other children because he can never be baptized in the church unless he renounces his mothers identity and relationship. Frankly, after the damage the church has done to me over the years through its bigotry and hate speech, I’m glad he can’t join the church. But shouldn’t the church at least WANT him to be cleansed from his sins through baptism? It makes no sense that they would deny him that opportunity based on my perceived sinfulness.

We are not wanted, our children are not wanted, and we hear the message loud and clear.”

· November 8, 2015


My brother-in-law was a faithful member who did not want to admit that he was gay, because he felt that was shameful and sinful and he was sure that he could “overcome it” if he was righteous enough. He married in the temple after his mission and had four children. He and his wife struggled for 11 years to make it work but he finally came out, left the church, and they divorced. He and his ex share custody. He left the church, she did not. Their youngest two are still pre-baptism age. They cannot be baptized. Has the church not put both of these good people through enough in their attempts to love the gospel? Teaching them that marriage was the better choice in order to “cure” his gayness? Teaching him self hatred and shame? And now excluding their resulting children from the church? I cannot imagine how my sister in law is feeling today. She tried to do what she had been taught was right. This is the result and this is what the church does to support her. It is shameful.

· November 8, 2015


Gay Mormon church members say new rules are devastating

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) —

NEWS.YAHOO.COM

· November 8, 2015


I am an infertile, bisexual woman married to an adult convert straight male. That means, for those not familiar, that I’m in a mixed-orientation marriage. This makes me look straight at church and affords me insane amounts of privilege as I walk through the world. What is doesn’t afford me is any peace when I’m erased. This policy manages something amazing – it erases me and harms me all in the same effort. …

We’ve recently really struggled to decide if we’d spend several tens of thousands of dollars to achieve our dream of biological children. We were about ready to start, again, making appointments. Then Thursday happened, this policy happened, and any quiet reservations about raising children in the Church rose to the level of ear-drum splitting screams. We won’t do it. I absolutely refuse.

Know that article where people say Satan was stealing their motherhood? The Church did that to me. They took it. They said to me, damn near literally, that my desire to raise my children with both a full knowledge of who their Mom is & songs of popcorn popping on trees isn’t valid. It isn’t sanctioned. They don’t want me or those innocent children.

My husband has been a member for less than a decade and loves the Gospel deeply as do I. Today we laid in each others arms and sobbed as he said, “I didn’t know how this felt. Is this how you feel when people say things? These children are innocent. This isn’t their decision. How can anyone do this and how can I stay?” All I had to offer him were my own sobs of solidarity. I have no idea how I’ll stay. It’s never, ever been more clear that I’m not wanted.

“They don’t want me.” I just keep repeating this in my head in this amazed tone. After a life of service, being a Temple worker, countless hours in Primary & Relief Society, tons of time at the organ, Visit Teaching, helping with meals and believing in spite of pain and trying to reconcile I finally get it — they don’t want me. But this is my spiritual home. This is where I can walk into any building and feel the spirit of my people, get their jokes, know what is coming next in a meeting, hear the music of my life & it’s my platform for accessing (I thought, think, something) salvation and my eternal family. But they don’t want me.

How do you even recover from that? 15 guys in Salt Lake said I’m not the kind of Mormon they want. And they’re so sure of that, they don’t want my kids either — unless I pretend to be straight. Erasure & harm.

There is no way to feel but gutted, disoriented & sad. I have no idea where I’ll go from here.

· November 14, 2015


A friend just mentioned to me how this inadvertently *could affect her family. She’s married to a man with four young children. She has two gay sisters who are in committed relationships-neither have children but both are very close with their nieces and nephews. If something were to happen to them, they have designated that one of her gay sisters would raise her children. The sister would raise them in the church, as requested, and other than the “I hate gays” part of the gospel, would have no problem doing this….but now those children would be denied ordinances because of their aunts loving care after the loss of two parents. It is unlikely this is will ever play out, but it demonstrates how ill thought out this entire policy is.

· November 8, 2015


Today I finally sat down with my two active, Mormon children to explain the new policy to them. My son is 12 and is supposed to be ordained next week. My daughter is 14 and last week I received a call to give my permission for her to receive a calling. She was previously a Beehive President. I am gay and inactive but still have a strong testimony of many of the Church’s teachings. I fully support all five of my children’s faith choices–those who joined the Church and those who chose not to. My son’s first question was “will I still be ordained?” My daughter’s first question was “do I have to move out?” Neither feels like they can sit in the Bishop’s office and agree that homosexuality is a sin. My daughter just cried and cried. I feel lost and unequipped to help them. Both shook their heads and said, “it’s not fair. We didn’t do anything wrong”. I feel like the policy is aimed at making me feel like so horrible of a mother that I will leave my partner and live a straight life just so my kids won’t suffer.

· November 8, 2015


I have learned of a student at BYU-Idaho with a gay parent (and I am sure there are others) whose attendance at the university is now under question based upon whether they continue to live with this parent when they are home from classes.”

· November 8, 2015


I heard a story today from a man who had been married for 20 years in a traditional mormon marriage. He had been advised by his bishop to marry a woman, even though he had same-sex attraction. After 20 years, the marriage ended, with 8 kids. He is now in a same-sex relationship, and fully supports his ex-wife’s desire to keep the kids in the church.

Two of his kids want to go on missions. However, with the new policy, they would not be able to live in his home, and the kids would have to denounce their father’s marriage.

This was told with tears in his eyes.

· November 14, 2015


My mother and father divorced when I was 12 and some of my younger brothers and sister weren’t baptized yet. We lived with my mom and she came out as a lesbian. Since the policy says if you’ve ever lived with a gay parent you are denied full membership how does that affect my family? All of us kids were married in the temple, some served missions. I’m the only disaffected child and that is only because of church history. My mother raised us Mormons through and through. This policy is a slap in the face to my family. It’s not of God it’s from bigoted old men.

· November 8, 2015


On Friday, apparently 13 Mormons were talked out of committing suicide. I have no context of this information.

Fox 13 reported that a suicide hotline in Utah saw a marked increase in call volume since news of the policy came out. It has been reported that the Fox-13 story has been removed from its site.

· November 14, 2015


I just read a story of someone whose ex-wife is already seeking to have a divorce decree amended to get sole custody of her children rather than joint custody with her gay ex-husband. As of now, it’s not even clear that would actually do anything to prevent the policy from applying to their kids because it says nothing about custody. But if they amend the policy to make custody a determining factor (or just enforce that way) . . . ouch, they are going to make fights over custody in divorce (which are already bad enough) that much worse because the believing straight spouse will pull out all the stops to get sole custody. This policy is evil, and that is not a word I use lightly.

· November 9, 2015


I struggle to decide if appropriate to share, but I feel I must show my support. I learned today with broken heart, the news of avery good friends and their missionary daughter. She had been planning to enter the Missionary Training Center next week, and was thrilled to answer her call toserve. Because her father and his husband, legally married, are gay, the Church has rescended her call and she will not be allowed to serve. She may not wear the little black badge on her shoulder for 18 months, but know her whole life will be a mission. Not the kind she envisioned, but a mission just the same. Lesses are learned painfully. I throw my arms around them all in support of their sacrifice and their desire to serve

· November 9, 2015


My ex has decided to take me to court to take my kids away. This all came about yesterday. I’m gay and we divorced March 2012 and we were, up until yesterday, getting along well. In fact, just last week I had talked to my Ex about coming to work in my new practice as a nutritional therapist.

I agreed in the divorce to allow her to raise the kids in the church. Apparently she now feels she will not be able to do that unless she has full custody. Because under the new policy children cannot progress in the church if they have a parent in a same sex relationship.

I had a 10-15 minute discussion with the kids on Saturday about the new policy. I basically told them about it and that I don’t know what it means. I told my 11 year old that it may mean he can’t become a deacon. But, the one thing that it clearly states is that they needed to disavow me if they were ever wanting to go on a mission. And this is what has been extremely painful to me.

I believe in free agency and would have honored and respected their choice to go on a mission. If and when the time came. Now given the fact that they MUST disavow me and get special permission is just crazy. So my Ex is mad that I had this short discussion with them.

I recognize that she has a terrible fear; perhaps none of our children will stay in the church based on this policy. I respect that my kids will make the right choice. I just so angry that the church has created a situation that a child needs to disavow a parent in order to achieve the love of God.

I have been having terrible night terrors again since this policy came out. I experienced the night terrors (PTSD) for 2 years after a brutal excommunication (6/24/12). I thought they would never come back.

My night terrors were awful last night, I’ve been crying since I got out of bed. The night terrors rob you of REM sleep and drive you crazy. After the excommunication they became so bad that I had contemplated ending things. I just don’t want to go back to that place ever.

· November 9, 2015


I divorced my husband because he was not a good match for me and I was miserable. I knew that I was at least bisexual. He said that if I wanted a divorce, I’d have to give him the house and the kids. … A year later, I left the church for reasons unrelated. It was very hard to leave for all the reasons you know well and I tried so hard to stay in it. I moved away from my kids, intending it to be for a year. He told me I could see them every month in his home and that I could have them all Christmas and all summer. I thought I’d give it a year to see how I could handle it.

I found my partner three years ago. My kids love her. I’ve reconciled myself (easily and happily) to being pretty damn gay. Two summers ago, my kids all wanted to move to live with me. …

Now, the new church policy. I am very worried that he and the church members will use this as leverage to keep her from wanting to talk to me. Here, now, is validation for his view that I am evil. Even the church says so! By default! All the evils! And that if she ever wants to go on a mission, of course, she’ll have to disavow blah blah blah.

My youngest is not baptized. I wouldn’t let her get baptized until she was older and knew more. Now, she can’t until she’s 18 and I’m worried it will be played as MY fault. …

My daughter said tonight that people at church treat her differently. …

· November 14, 2015


I’m at work today, and barely able to concentrate. This is the first day our 12yo son is *finally* back at our home, after his usual week at his (gay) mom’s home. He made it halfway through school before he said he was “sick” and had my husband pick him up. Usually he is so positive and easy going, but ever since these policies hit and we learned he would not be ordained, he has been depressed and anxious. He is afraid he will be “unbaptized” and “kicked out”. We are looking into therapy for him to help him process and keep him from spiraling into depression. I’m sick for him, for us. The damage this will do to him … already dealing with middle school and two homes, and a separation at his other home. Now he has to lose his church, too. Not only him, but our whole family – me, a 35 year member, my adult convert husband, my 8 year old who was supposed to be baptized (next week!), my younger sons who may never know our religion… I can’t even bear to think of life without our church yet.

I told our bishop that we didn’t quit the church, the church quit us. Everyone says well, maybe they will make an exception. But what kind of parents would we be if we raised our teenage son to “disavow” his mom? Even the fact that I have to categorize her as his “gay mom” makes me upset. The cruelty of this whole situation has me questioning the entirety of my faith, and honestly I feel like I’m going through the stages of grief. I think I’m somewhere between denial and anger right now. I so desperately want to have the church announce a fix for this, but even if they did, this cannot be undone for me.

· November 14, 2015


I was baptized in the Mormon church. I was young but determined to be a good Mormon. I went to BYU and found a wife. Before marrying her I spoke to my bishop and told him my dilemma. He assured me that if I married, God would make everything right. 20 years later and divorce proceeding and broken hearts. Twenty-five years after becoming a member of the church and the very church that was the center of life, penned new policies, and I find that I am an enemy of God and Church. I cannot tell you the sense of sadness I feel for the loss of my church. I cannot tell you the hurt I feel for my kids. Today my son was telling me things that he wanted for his baptism. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he could not be baptized.

· November 14, 2015


I have watched both sides of this debate regarding the changes to the LDS handbook of instructions as it pertains to children of a parent involved in a same gender relationship, rage on for the last 24 hours. I can’t remain silent because this affects me on a deeply personal level. My three beautiful children are the product of my former marriage to a gay man. My ex-husband is an incredible human being with a very generous and compassionate heart. I loved him when we were married and I still love him to this day. I still tell my children I love their “daddy.” (NOTE: I am happily remarried to a wonderful man whom I also love with all my heart and my love for my ex-husband does not taint or diminish my love for my new husband, its apples and oranges folks.)

When my ex-husband and I divorced we agreed that our children would continue to be raised LDS. While I know my ex-husband has a number of issues with the LDS church to his credit he has been incredibly supportive of raising our children LDS. He has attended baptisms, we have always worked out our custody schedule so that the kids can attend church, he does not disparage the church to the children, and is supportive of the children as they advance in the church. This only contributes to the continued feelings of love I have for him because he has chosen not to let his personal feelings toward the LDS church impact his relationship with the children or with me. Likewise I don’t disparage my ex-husband and his partner to my children. I NEVER want my children to have to choose between their religion and their father. My ex-husband is the father of my kids and they LOVE him.

As part of our divorce decree we both have joint legal and physical custody of our children. He has the same legal rights as me regarding the children. We work jointly for visitation. Currently the kids spend more actual time with me, but that is simply a matter of logistics. If the logistics were different the time would be more equal. When the kids are with him they are also with his partner, just as when the kids are with me they are with my new husband.

The new instructions provides that if a child has a parent in a same gender relationship that child can be denied advancement in the church until they turn 18. While some have implied that this only applies to children who live with that parent, an actual reading of that policy is silent on that issue. It simply states if a child has a parent who is in a same gender relationship certain conditions apply. Under what I lovingly reference as the “leadership” lottery it is entirely conceivable that my child could have a bishop who denies my child the opportunity to advance in the church simply because my child’s father is in a same gender relationship. MY CHILD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS/HER FATHER BEING IN A SAME GENDER RELATIONSHIP. Not to mention that my ex-husband has been nothing but supportive of my children and their relationship with the church. Finally God forbid that something happens to me, my children would be living full time with their dad and his partner. Then what??? Then there would be no question and that my children’s ability to continue to advance in the church will come to a complete stop until they turn 18, and even then they can only continue if discontinue living with their father. That seems a pretty unfair burden to place on an 18 year old, especially if that 18 year old has also lost a mother. Again MY CHILD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS/HER FATHER BEING IN A SAME GENDER RELATIONSHIP. I am sorry it feels like a punishment for my kids who simply were born to me and my ex-husband through no fault of their own.

So as you read the raging debate on this new policy please keep in mind that my beautiful children who have deep testimonies of the gospel along with their mother bear the weight of this change much more heavily than most.

· November 10, 2015


Here is another account from my circles. It is from a man who is in a same sex marriage:

“I just returned from speaking with the three most AMAZING children in the world, and one damned incredible ex-wife, on this LDS Church debacle. We spoke about the new policy, what it could mean for them, and the drivers behind the decision. We also talked about how my kids would have to disavow gay marriage in order for them to go on missions…to which, my oldest son responded, “I guess I’m not going on a mission then, because I’m NOT going to lie.”

There was much crying, weeping, shouting and swearing. In the end, we rallied and “circled the wagons”, as a FAMILY. Ultimately, without my prompting, they all concluded that if their sister couldn’t be baptized, and the boys couldn’t receive the priesthood, then they would collectively leave the church.

Elder Christoferson, you just estranged some of the most amazing people to ever enter your church doors. To quote my oldest son “To Hell with ’em….PEACE OUT!””

I really wonder if this was the effect the LDS leaders were going for?

· November 10, 2015


I have two moms. I love them. After this new policy was announced, my bishop contacted me to say that if they want to visit me and their grandchildren, they have to stay in separate bedrooms. Or I will face mandatory discipline.”

· November 10, 2015


I am a returned missionary, grew up and spent my whole life in the church. I deeply love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was a very active member with 2 callings up until 3 months ago.

“Despite my loving ward, messages started to come out of salt lake that were less and less loving, my ward became a hostile environment for me, and I no longer felt safe there, so I decided to take a break until things calmed down and I could come and worship in peace without anxiety.

“This week I was planning to go with a friend to her ward, because I desperately wanted to return to sacrament meeting. Thursday night when I heard about the policy, I knew that my years of trying to stay in the church as a queer mormon were over. I got the message loud and clear, you will never be safe here, we don’t want your kind, you are not welcome.

“I am grateful that I have a close personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, and with Jesus. I have felt peace reading Alma 31-32, that when cast out of my church, I can still worship my God, that I know loves me, just as I am.

“Things are rough with my family relationship. My parents love me very much, but because of the mixed and often hostile message the church has given them about gay folks over the years, they do not know how to be close to me without betraying their beliefs since I came out, even as I stayed active in the gospel. My father told me once that I should hide this part of me, and never talk about it, that I should isolate myself, or I would become an apostate.

“I chose to speak and be open, because I wanted to live, and if I didn’t it would have killed me. I guess the church has done a lot to make my dad’s words true. If I hadn’t been pushed out this weekend, and with every jab before that, it may not have been the case.

“But as heart broken as I am to be losing my religion, I am not losing the gospel, and as heart broken and betrayed as I feel, I am confident God is putting me on the path to thrive in life, to find love and to become all he expects of me. My family and my friends are having a hard time. And I know there will be many more hard days to come. I don’t know if we will survive this, our relationship. But I hope we can.

· November 10, 2015


When I heard the news I grieved, knowing that my daughter could not choose to be a part of the church of her ancestors. I also experienced fear that she would cut me off when she turns 18.”

· November 10, 2015


Growing up Mormon and gay is a death sentence. I knew from a very young age that I had two options: kill myself knowing that at least I’d never break the law of chastity; or leave the church and have my blessings and priesthood stripped from me (spiritual death).

“The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 14 years old. The second time I was 15. The third I was 20 and on my mission.

“I … came out … and officially resigned from the church…

“My mother and sister haven’t spoken to me since then. My dad and youngest sister text me every month or two. Now that I’m officially an apostate, I can’t help but wonder if that communication will now stop, too.

“The silence I get from my family was expected. I knew I would face rejection from my faith and my family when I came out. It’s what the prophets and apostles taught for decades.

“But it’s not the silence that hurts the most. It’s the haunting memories of what was said that stay with you.

“One of the last things my mother told me was that she prayed that God would let her die on an operating table during an upcoming procedure if it would fix me.

“Three years ago my mother told me she would rather die than have a gay son. I can only imagine how she feels now, with another church-sanctioned reason to hate me.

“My heart hurts for the loving gay couples whose children are now placed in the unimaginable situation of choosing between the church and their parents. But it goes deeper than that, too. My heart breaks for those of us who are now pushed even further from our families because of a policy that can only be seen as retaliatory and mean-spirited. There is no love here.

“I love my family and I long to know their love again. I don’t know if that will ever happen. I’m hopeful, though, that I can one day be my Momma’s Boy again.”

· November 14, 2015


I started noticing how I didn’t fit ‘the mold’ when I turned 12yrs old. I was constantly asked by my leaders to be more excited about the activities, to bear my testimony more, to make more of an effort to fit in. I knew back then that I was less than. That somehow, who I was, who I was born, was less than because I didn’t fit ‘the mold.’

“When I was 17yrs old, it hit me, I was gay and just so happened to be in a leadership position for the youth my age. The shame and guilt that came from finally realizing what was ‘wrong’ with me overtook me. I withdrew from church, no one could know this secret, no one could really know how much I didn’t fit ‘the mold.’ But again, I was asked to fit in, to be a better example to the younger girls, to fit ‘the mold’.

“My 20s were full of substance abuse and self-hatred for what I was. Countless hours on my knees, praying, pleading, begging to be fixed, begging to finally fit ‘the mold’ and be ‘normal’ and to just be accepted the way I was. During that time I was asked to leave BYU because of my sexuality, regardless of the fact that I was not acting on any feelings. Again, I was made to feel less than, to feel unwanted.

“… I still struggle, I still cry, I still feel shame and guilt for not fitting ‘the mold’ of a church that supposedly speaks of love and acceptance. Unless you’ve gone through it, you’ll never fully understand how deep those cuts go.

“Though, I finally accept who I am, who I was born to be and I love that person, this new policy has ripped back open so many years of heartache and sadness. This policy is now allowing children that do fit ‘the mold’ to take on the heavy load of what their parent(s) have been dealing with their whole lives. This policy is adding to the number of LDS youth that are already struggling with a variety of issues. This policy doesn’t protect those youth. This policy adds to the complications of an already difficult time in a person’s life. This policy have officially taken away any hope I had that ‘the mold’ may change and that I could one day fit that

· November 14, 2015


I was born into an LDS family and my family continues to practice. I am not out to my family, out of fear. Mostly for them, I don’t want them to be embarrassed or looked at, as I have been. I can’t say that anyone in my immediate circle even cares, because I have tried to distance myself from most LDS people. When people have found out I haven’t been going to church, whatever the reason, they have instantly distanced themselves, like I have some contagious disease. The policy impacts me because it’s thrown me back into that world. Even if one day I decide to ‘repent for my sins’ and come back to the church, it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter because of the years I’ve lived in a same-sex relationship. It solidifies that I can never come back. I can never have my children learn the wonderful primary lessons. I cannot out of fear and out of shame.”

· November 10, 2015


From a former LDS Bishop:

“I don’t know why these policies were put in place, but I do know how they will affect the children. It will be just like India. They will be made to feel as if something about them is contagious, something reeks, and the only way to rid themselves of the stench will be to move out of their homes and disavow their parents’ disease.

I want the history books to include this detail: When this policy was leaked to the public, my Facebook feed was filled with good people, mostly Mormons, letting the gay community know their phones would be on all night, that they could call, could reach out, in case any of them were thinking of taking their own lives. I want the history books to show that the policies of our leaders did not reflect the highest values of the people they have been asked to lead. They issued policies and we posted suicide hotlines.”

· November 10, 2015


This time last week, Alyssa Paquette’s twelve-year-old stepson was preparing to be ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church.

Now that has all changed. On November 5, the Church confirmed a new policy that forbids baby blessings, baptisms, and priesthood ordinations for minor children who reside at least part of the time in a home where a parent is in a same-sex marriage.

The sadness has been palpable. After a crushing weekend spent trying to understand what the Church’s new policy means for him, the boy* is crestfallen.

“Usually he is so positive and easygoing, but ever since these policies hit and we learned he would not be ordained, he has been depressed and anxious,” says Paquette, 35, a Mormon mother living in Oregon.

He’s not the only one. Their whole blended family has been suffering since the news hit last Thursday. Their family configuration is complicated but loving: The twelve-year-old is Paquette’s husband’s son from a prior relationship. The boy’s mother subsequently began cohabiting with a woman. The father joined the LDS Church, married Paquette, and had three more children with her, now ages 8, 6, and 2.

The boy’s two families share equal custody and his biological mother has been accepting of the decision to raise him as a Mormon, despite her reservations about its teachings on LGBT issues. “All of his parents were there” at his baptism four years ago, says Paquette. “It was a great experience because we all came together to support our son during an important time.”

Now Paquette expresses shock and grief that on the eve of their son’s ordination, he’s being rejected. “It feels like a mourning process, like someone has actually died. The church is such a huge part of our lives, and to have that suddenly taken away from him is really challenging,” she says.

Paquette notes that her family has been deluged with “an outpouring of love and support” from their local ward, and that the bishop reached out to them immediately. “He was very sympathetic and full of love, and struggling to find the right words for us.”

But, she says, “He was also at a loss for how the new policies would apply in our situation. It sounds like he hasn’t been given much guidance other than what’s in the handbook.” At first, the family hoped that an exception might be made because their son is already a baptized member of the church, and so close in age to his planned ordination.

However, that was impossible since he is legally required to live part-time in his biological mother’s home according to the terms of their joint custody agreement. Under the new policy, this makes him ineligible for most of the church’s rites until he becomes an adult—and even then only if he disavows his mother’s same-sex marriage.

“That is just not an option for us,” Paquette says. “My husband and I feel that it would be wrong to have him disavow half of his family.”

The shock wave of this policy change doesn’t just affect her son, though.

Her eight-year-old daughter was scheduled to be baptized next week, and now that will not be happening.

“Even though our three other children aren’t precluded from being baptized, we feel like we can’t continue to participate in church with the policy as it stands,” she says. “We have a strong conviction that it’s wrong.”

The Paquettes have decided that they will either attend church together as a family, with all of their children treated equally, or they will find somewhere that is a “safe place” for the six of them.

Paquette breaks down in tears at the thought of not being Mormon, which is “a huge part” of her identity. She does not want to have the family’s names removed from the rolls—“that would be really drastic, and would close a door”—but she won’t choose the church over keeping her family whole.

“When you’re raised in the church, you’re raised to sustain your leaders. You’re taught that anything that comes from the church is from God, and to not sustain them is to not sustain God,” she says.

“But I don’t know how we’re supposed to sustain something that tears our family apart.”

JANARIESS.RELIGIONNEWS.COM

· November 10, 2015


… This policy clearly communicates to my daughter — and many other children with a gay parent — that the Church finds our family abnormal, unhealthy, unholy, and simply not as good or worthy as families headed by opposite-sex parents. It should go without saying that this is the wrong message to send to families — gay or otherwise.

My daughter has extended family members who are devout and active in the LDS Church. I do not want her to feel unworthy, ashamed, or marginalized because her cousins have a mother and a father, which their faith declares makes them somehow superior to her and her two dads. When it comes to family and raising children, what matters is love, not gender.

This new Church policy will also further embolden those members who oppose LGBT people and our equal rights — like the pious Mormon blogger who launched a vicious, personal attack against my family earlier this year. A person who I have never met, who knows nothing of me and my family, blatantly and openly insulted us in the name of his beliefs. So it’s not hard to see how policies like this one can be interpreted as justification for such antigay onslaughts. …”

Dear Mormon Church: These Are the Faces of Apostasy | Advocate.com

· November 10, 2015


It hurts to see my friends wake up one morning to see that they are now automatically considered apostates. It hurts to see friends whose children now have to wait an extra 10 years to get baptized or fully participate in the Church, despite their parents’ approval and encouragement. It hurts to see the secondary pain this has brought to my straight friends—friends who believe in the Church and sustain the Prophet and Apostles and who this won’t affect personally, but friends who realize the pain this is inflicting on their queer friends. And who are confused and saddened and hurt that something they love so dearly might cut so deeply against people they love and care for. It hurts to feel like all that hope I had for the door of openness and goodwill and increased understanding and empathy has been suddenly slammed shut.

All of those things actually happened to me. They are not hypothetical. It hurt to wake up to an early morning message telling me our mutual friend was suicidal and I needed to go check on him. The minutes ticked by as he didn’t answer his phone, I found out no one had seen him in hours, and I had the gut wrenching task of knocking on his locked bedroom door. Thankfully he was alive, and relatively ok. But it’s not an experience I wish on anyone.

A different friend of mine has been so disquieted, she could barely make it through one of her classes in the past few days. And the other stories are beginning to poor in: college students who’ve been told they can no longer live with their parents between semesters, children who were about to be baptized or go on missions who will no longer be able to. These are the real and human consequences of this policy change.

And lest you think the heartbreak was only among my friends who had chosen to pursue same-sex relationships, consider the hurt I felt as I watched dozens and dozens of my most faithful, believing, rock-solid testimony fellow LGBTQ/SSA Mormons recoil in fear and pain at the policy change. While nothing in the policy would seemingly apply to them, they felt that at its core the message was “you are not welcome here.” They wanted nothing more than to feel welcome and belong. …”

Dear Straight Mormons
BYUUSGA.WORDPRESS.COM

· November 10, 2015


An LDS judge is apparently implementing the new policy from the bench:

“April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce of Carbon County said the baby they’ve loved and raised for the last three months will be removed from their home and sent to heterosexual foster parents because a judge said the baby would be better-off.”

Foster parents say child removed from their home because they are gay
KUTV.COM

· November 11, 2015


“Even if I am inactive the LDS Church is still very much active and present in my life through those around me. Even before this newest announcement I have family and friends who won’t talk to me or be associated with me. This announcements makes the likelihood of more of my family and friends disavowing me eminent. According to the Church, I am an apostate. I was married … to my beautiful wife. We plan to have children as soon as possible. Since I have now been termed apostate does this mean my dad, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma and friends now must disavow me in order to not be also considered apostate? If a child of same-sex parents is considered apostate then it would follow my logic is sound. How long until everyone is disavowing each other in families in order to follow the “word of God” spoken by our Prophets here on earth? Destroying families and lives does not sound very Godlike. ”

· November 14, 2015


“I already have trouble being known as a member by the friends of my gay son and his partner, (whom we wholeheartedly accept). There is gentle pressure all of the time as to why we don’t leave this bigoted church behind. There are astonished stares when my son introduces us to his gay and supportive friends, because they all know his parents are LDS. Now I feel like crawling under a rock. I am so ashamed. Yet how can I leave when I still have other active children? i also wish the leadership would just leave everything alone…”

· November 11, 2015


I’m a millennial gay Mormon, out relatively recently. Last night I got the question for the first time from a guy I’ve been seeing for a few weeks: Why do you stay? Why do you want to associate with them?

He’s a good guy, and he meant it sincerely, not capriciously. He was raised in a conservative Christian home and felt, when he came out, that cutting himself almost completely off from religion was the healthiest thing for him to do. Because of that background, he views my continued attendance at church with intrigue. We’ve had a couple of really good conversations about faith and religion, but he brought it up again last night after seeing some of the Facebook posts going around.

How do you explain to someone that this is your home? How do you explain that it is part of your identity? I wouldn’t be who I am without the church; I wouldn’t have the relationship with God that I have without the church. It’s natural for me to want that for my children someday. But on a certain level, he’s right: It just makes so little sense to be in a place that doesn’t want you. I tell myself that starting a family is far off in the future for me. Maybe things will change by then. Or maybe I’ll have changed sufficiently to no longer crave a home within Mormonism. Whatever happens in the future, I have certainly been very reflective these last few days.

I did want to add, however, that for those who are interested in staying, I have felt love in the church. However rare it may be, it exists. The night the policy was made public, I had a friend text me just to say “I’m not doing anything tonight. If you want to come over and rant about how stupid this is, you can.” That meant the world to me.

Or for those who are in leadership positions within the church, I want you to know there are ways to handle this correctly. I have the most phenomenal bishop in the world. When I came out to him, he simply said, “I assume you’ve put a lot of time and thought and prayers into your decisions, so I’m not going to disrespect you by telling you not to move forward.” Then he encouraged me to keep coming and that I would always be welcome.

And yesterday, he sent an email to our ward in which he said that he viewed those who disagreed with the new policy as individuals overflowing with love for their brothers and sisters, and that he would never view them as lacking in faith. Then he said all were welcome to come talk with him about how this made them feel–or, if we were simply looking for a church authority to express our displeasure, he would be happy to sit silently and nonjudgmentally while we yell at him and the church.

I live in a relatively liberal city; my bishop is quite young, and I attend a singles ward, so everyone else is similarly young and at least somewhat more likely to be liberal. My experience is unlikely to be replicated in most Mormon wards. But I want people to know there is still at least one corner of the church where I feel at peace

· November 14, 2015


“I was baptized in the Mormon church. I was young but determined to be a good Mormon. I went to BYU and found a wife. Before marrying her I spoke to my bishop and told him my dilemma. He assured me that if I married, God would make everything right. 20 years later and divorce proceeding and broken hearts. Twenty-five years after becoming a member of the church and the very church that was the center of life, penned new policies, and I find that I am an enemy of God and Church. I cannot tell you the sense of sadness I feel for the loss of my church. I cannot tell you the hurt I feel for my kids. Today my son was telling me things that he wanted for his baptism. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he could not be baptized.”

· November 14, 2015


Like many others around me, I was left dismayed and hurt by the policy changes made by the LDS church this past weekend. I can’t claim to have been shocked, though I sincerely wish that I could.

I was raised in the LDS church in Utah, though shortly after my confirmation my family became inactive. Knowing that I was part of the LGBTQIA community and feeling largely unwelcome and unwanted by the church, I stayed away for over two decades.

Then almost five years ago, I decided to try again. The church had stopped being quite so vehemently and almost violently anti-LGBTQIA, and I thought that perhaps I could find a place for myself within the church once more. …

My ward surprised me in all the best of ways. They showed me kindness and acceptance; not just to me, but also to my partner, though she isn’t Christian. …

After the policy changes were confirmed by church leadership on Saturday morning, I spent most of the day and evening listening and watching as pain unfolded among friends and loved ones all around me.

I spent hours throughout Saturday and Sunday, and even today, comforting many. First, it was trying to convince a young friend not to take her own life amidst her overwhelming pain and fear, who is now terrified someone will find out she identifies as LGBTQIA, and wonders what will happen to her when they do. So far, I’m very thankful to say, she hasn’t taken her life. Then, I read about a friend who was kicked out of her home by her parents because of the policy changes, even though she might be losing her job in a few days.

My heterosexual family, friends, and loved ones are struggling through what I can only describe as a crisis of faith. They have said, “This can’t be right…,” or “This has to be a bad joke. Surely something will be done to reverse this…,” and even “It makes no sense… it goes against all the progress that has been made…” as they wrestle with what their conscience tells them is right versus what the policy changes say. While they pray, they are trying to figure out where their place is now, feeling torn between their church and their loved ones who are LGBTQIA.

I thought very long and hard about what the changes meant for me and my future within the church, and I grieved the loss that I knew was inevitable. …

Turning in my letter of resignation was my decision to save us all the trouble, hassle and stress of a now mandatory disciplinary council. You see, my partner of 12 years and I finally got legally married … For wanting the safety and recognition of legal marriage, I have been branded apostate by my church.

To his credit, the Bishop was very kind about the whole matter. He accepted my letter without argument and with tears in his eyes …

For my own part, I could shrug it off, as I’m sadly accustomed to this type of treatment from growing up in Utah. But, my heart is grieving for the lives that have been and will be lost over this policy change, and for the families that are and will be torn apart. That is what has me gutted; what I find to be not only cruel but unconscionable actions against innocent minors, families of LGBTQIA Mormons, and LGBTQIA members. …

· November 14, 2015


Hillary Clinton – @HillaryClinton

“Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation—thousands of families prove that.” http://hrc.io/1GXdJQY

· November 14, 2015


“We actually have been aware of a couple of suicides that have happened,”

· November 11, 2015


…Mama Dragons, a group for church mothers with gay children.

When the group was founded four years ago it had six members. It now has more than 500. She worked to create groups like Sit With Me Sunday, a program that helps LGBT people who want to come to church but are afraid to connect with someone to take them. The volunteer running it shut it down last week after news broke of the new policy, Montgomery said. “She said, ‘It’s no longer safe to invite them. It’s better if we tell them to run.’”

· November 12, 2015


Thousands of Mormons Set to Leave the Church Over Anti-Gay “Apostate” Decree

SLATE.COM

· November 12, 2015


“I told him [her bishop] I spent 30 minutes on the phone with my gay brother-in-law last night apologizing to him as I listened to his sobbing and tears and questions asking, “Why? Why would they do that?” One night he went to bed, and the next morning he is labeled an apostate. ”

· November 12, 2015


I have played the organ every week for 30 years. I have led the choir for 3 different periods. I have taught Priesthood, Sunday School, given talks; played for baptisms, weddings, and funerals; composed over 30 vocal pieces for Sacrament Meeting; run the Stake Christmas Concert, and conducted a concert of LDS forces at Carnegie Hall. I have played the organ for church functions at Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden. Though there has been some discord, I have never been away from the Church for more than a short burst.

It’s different, this time”

· November 12, 2015


From Tom Christofferson (brother of apostle D. Todd Christofferson):

“The church’s new ground rules will make it more difficult than ever for people of same-sex orientation to exist within the church.

“I think my biggest reaction to it is that my experience both with my family and my ward family as I was coming back to church … seemingly would be more difficult to pull off under the setting that’s coming out here, I fear. My concern would be that this puts more pressure on families, too, and the ability to deal with dissonance and ambiguity may be even more of a challenge than it has been before.”

… “Will they have the same opportunity? Will they be able to go to church even though they are in a committed monogamous same-sex relationship and feel welcome? To make both of them feel welcome and to make a place in the congregation for both of them? Or are we sort of now saying that the Scarlet Letter has been attached, and we can’t do that, let alone how it affects the children?”

“It seems to me that if the concern is that if we feel that there is sexual sin there in an ongoing basis, then I think the policy should be that in ANY family where sexual sin in there in an ongoing basis there may be an extra interview or process required for ordination of children. That’s great, and by the way if that were the case the bishop would be dealing with a lot more straight families than gay ones.”

“I worry about the families who are involved in this in the meantime. At the same time of walking this path in faith and hope it is also incumbent on me and all of us who have had our hearts broken over this to reach out much more in love and acceptance to those who are affected by this and whatever they think the best path is for themselves at this moment. That they know we love them.

· November 12, 2015


Dear Elder Oaks,

This new policy has left me and my family sad and confused. I am struggling to see the love in the new rule, and I can’t understand why Church leaders have deemed it necessary. The Church claims its condemnation of gay relationships is about protecting families. But its position and especially its new policy are dividing families — including my own. My dad, a bishop during Proposition 8 and advocate for gay Mormons for the past decade, is discouraged and distraught. My mom is sad and frustrated. My sister, a full-time missionary in San Diego, now has to represent an organization she loves, but that has all but disavowed her brother.

In 2013, Elder Uchtdorf said “…regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.” I wish I still felt this were true.

My experience growing up in the Church was overwhelmingly positive, and friends and leaders in my local congregation have been nothing but loving and supportive. But I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of a church where my official welcome is conditional on rejecting a core part of my identity. I do not want to belong to an organization where children are excluded because of who their parents love. I cannot support teachings that too often drive teens questioning their sexuality to suicide instead of to support.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have to be this kind of place. I hope that it will not be for much longer. As long as it is, though, I choose to withdraw my membership.

Please confirm when the attached membership record has been removed.

More importantly, though, please fix this.

http://zws.me/blog/2015/11/11/letter-to-dallin-h-oaks.html

· November 14, 2015


“I’m hearing some very reliable second hand information that there have been some shake ups and tensions at BYU Law School. Resignations. Canceling by visiting speakers. Threats of transferring. All due to the policy change. …”

· November 12, 2015


A seminary instructor announced he could not support the policy. The next day, because of his courage declaration, his closeted daughter came out to him. He announced how proud he was to have a gay daughter!

· November 14, 2015


Just an anecdote from a bishop friend. He said his two counselors let him know they wouldn’t participate in any disciplinary activities under this new policy. He expressed confusion on exactly how the church is expecting him to carry out the policy with all of its vagueness. He also said he had no intention of pursuing any discipline of same sex couples in his SLC ward. Mentioned that his stake president told him they are not a justice system and have no calling to go find people to discipline, which begs some questions, but also appears that at least that stake is taking what might be called a “no-action” response. Still leadership roulette…

· November 12, 2015


So, by way of confession… After the anguish of this last week, I have finally stopped suddenly and unexpectedly bursting into tears followed by uncontrolled and convulsive sobbing. It happened around the last part of today. I may finally be able to go back to work tomorrow.

I’ve been discovered by my wife in the bath, in the back room, in the restroom trying to suppress sudden tidal waves of overwhelming grief. We share furtive discussions and tears before the kids come home, or after they sleep. This evening however, this has grief has given away to unbelievable amounts of anger. I had no idea I could be so angry. I am now sitting in my work place, glad I could remove the sight of my enraged self from my children. (“Daddy has been busy at work all week.”)

Eight generations of complete devotion! I have martyrs in my blood… home burned down by mobs twice… Mormon Battalion, Winters Quarters…Presidents, general authorities or their assistants in almost every generation. We have all gone on missions… some leaving starving families behind, multiple times. Some have donated all they had to the common welfare. The first convert was born in 1769. Another, Joseph Smith’s secretary, was commanded to practice polygamy in 1841. (The final general authority commanded polygamist died in 1967…this is 126 years of blind obedience!)

This anger comes from hundreds of years and hundreds of lives of pure unquestioning sacrifice and devotion to the gospel that has now been coopted by our present day leadership. I cannot see Jesus’ light in their eyes, and no compassion that I would make me want to follow them. I don’t know how to get it back. I have a son on a mission for crying out loud, trying to convert people to this stuff. Why should I listen to anything these abusive, exploitative leaders say?! I wish I could still see that kickass experiment that was the idealistic early Kirtland era church as something more than a scam. I look to the scriptures for comfort, and they all come out twisted and manipulative… like power gambits with calculated risks. All those journals of devoted ancestors and their unquestioning and noble work now looks like the legacy of rubes.

I am SO ANGRY!! They have literally destroyed everything I have ever valued. I was taught to value. They have no idea what happens when they cross a true believing mormon.

· November 14, 2015


My 25 yr old daughter is being told “hold tight” this can’t possibly mean you..”but the way we read this right now, you can’t get a limited temple recommend renewed, because you have a gay father who has co-habbed”..I don’t even know how they knew such a thing cause 1. hes not a member, 2. his rights were terminated and she was adopted (they are saying its unclear because they have not stated “legal, Bio or adopted which one applies or do they all apply, because in baptize and ordain permission applies only if the parent is legal, but for geneology both must be done adoptive and bio. 3. we have had no contact with him since she was 2. 4.we are unsure completely if he has just “slept around” or co-habbed since we don’t communicate. They refuse to act until they get “clarity”..So she gets to sit in a holding pattern..They also are unsure if the disavow must be done in person or writing.

· November 12, 2015


Last night I wrote my bishop explaining that my family would be taking a break from church due to the new policy.

I then began to sob. I couldn’t push send, I made my husband do it. This hurts more and more every day.

I wish I could live in denial and pretend this change never happened. All I want is to sit in those familiar pews, sing the hymns of my ancestors, and pretend everything is fine.

First and foremost I’m a mom to 4 amazing daughters. I’m also a morally upstanding person, a successful attorney, a loving individual, a person who actively strives to see the good in people and in this world, and I’m also gay. I teach my children moral values. I support them in their LDS church attendance. I drive them to their weekly YW activities. I watched conference with them from my home. The notion that just because you’re gay in some way makes you hostile to Mormonism or the good that comes out of Mormonism is a fallacy and one that should be debunked. I didn’t just “allow” my girls to go to the LDS church, I actively supported their attendance. I did this because there is another side to me. The side that loved Mormonism, loved being raised Mormon, and fought for 30 years against my sexual orientation just so I could be Mormon. Why would I deprive my children of the good that comes out of Mormonism just because some conversations with them will be difficult? Part member homes with children have to have these same difficult conversations. Unfortunately, the church has now put me in a position where actively supporting my children in attendance has the very real effect of teaching them that Mormonism is more important to me than a lasting, ongoing relationship with my children. I won’t send that mixed message to my children. I ALWAYS want to have a close loving relationship with each of my girls!

· November 14, 2015


My grandson is 13, he’s never said what sexuality he identifies with and we’ve never asked …. Today he told his teacher at school he wants to kill himself. He won’t say why. He has always had an amazing testimony …..he was so upset about the policy change, but he won’t say why he wants to die. We’re happy he told someone. …. while being torn apart inside. He’s being evaluated now to see if he needs to be admitted or not. His doctor tried to understand this policy so he could help my grandson understand, but the doctor can’t understand it either.

We had two families walk out of church on Sunday after the bishop read the new policy over the pulpit in our ward. This is hurting way too many of us.

· November 14, 2015


My friend, who lives back East, received two copies of this note — one on her car this morning, and one on her front door this afternoon (her 10 year old daughter found it, but didn’t open it):

“I admire that you and your wife love your children enough to come to church with them, but in light of a new policy announced by the church last week, you are apostates. When you attend church, you are forcing the entire congregation to be exposed to apostate behavior during our most holy of meetings. We are there to worship and feel of the spirit and renew our covenants, but apostates in our midst drive the spirit away. I do not say this to offend you, but I need to stand up for the values of this church.

Since your kids can no longer be active members per the same policy, maybe this would be an excellent opportunity for you to take them and join a church where the interpretation of God’s laws is more lax.

Sincerely,

A Disciple of Christ’s Only TRUE Church on Earth.”

· November 14, 2015


Someone I admire greatly in my extended family is divorced because she married a man who knew he was gay but was counseled to “pray away the gay” and marry a woman and have kids. 5 kids later, they finally divorced.

Her and her ex husband, who is an apostate for accepting who he is, have joint legal and physical custody of the children. She was pulled in and told that they would have to cancel one of her children’s baptisms, which had already been scheduled.

With the “seek further guidance” instructions being announced, her bishop is now seeking that guidance while her child is scared and devastated over the whole thing.

This makes me sick to my stomach. I am grateful the new handbook info was leaked to the media. That is the only blessing in this ugly hurtful situation.

Hmmm… Wonder if the powers that be will need to clarify what happens when joint physical & legal custody comes into play, though they equally live in both residences in the eyes of the law via child support determinations. Ridiculous! The other brothers and sisters are able to keep their memberships of course.

If this turns badly, I hope it gives them cause for serious reconsideration as to the religion they have been so loyal to.

· November 14, 2015


So remember how I posted about a family member who’s stake president told his bishopics and branch presidencies that they would not enforce the new policy? Well, someone of course blew the whistle on that, and a member of the area presidency came to their meeting on Wednesday night. The SP was forced to recant to all the leaders. He tearfully said that they must abide by the policy. There was more said by the area authority, but I’m waiting for family to verify what else was said to make sure there was no misunderstanding. :/

This is the Frederick, Maryland stake that you might have heard about.

· November 14, 2015


I Am a homosexual. I have 3 children that I adopted. …. This letter you posted [church clarification of policy] is a pathetic excuse to justify your churches incredibly harmful and bad behavior. Rarely do Mormons see the immense damage they create in their wake. This latest Mormon move has shifted my position. I am tired. I am tired of being nice to Mormon friends who are clearly not wiling to do the same. Keep safe in your little world …. It would be incredibly painful to wake up and realize you are a part of a collective inflicting immense hurt on people who have done nothing to you or your religion.

· November 14, 2015


Janice Unsicker slurps hot chocolate out of a spoon at an IHOP in North Salt Lake City, utterly unaware of the controversy that surrounds her. When asked what she’s been learning at her Mormon church, the 6-year-old smiles, simply saying, “About Heavenly Father and Jesus.”

Her father, however, has to figure out how to explain that things have changed.

“Her grandparents have been preparing her to get baptized, and she’s been excited about it,” Todd Unsicker-Montoya says. “I still haven’t even told her that now she can’t. I don’t know how.”

Under a new policy from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, children of same-sex couples are barred from being baptized. That includes Janice and her 3-year-old brother, Trevor, because they live with two dads who are married to each other. After they turn 18 years old, Janice and Trevor will have the chance to be baptized — but only if they disavow the practice of same-sex relationships and marriage.

Barred From Baptism, Mormon Kids Of Same-Sex Couples Face A Frought Choice
NPR.ORG

· November 14, 2015


So last night a member of the stake presidency and a high councilman from the Mormon Church came to my house to visit me.

[…]

I asked him out of curiosity if as a gay member of the church that decided to stay and go to church on a weekly basis what would I have to do?

They told me that I could not support or go to any activities that support the LGBTQ community including gay pride events ,any social activities including going to wedding of same-sex couples, or parties or anything such as that. I could not belong to any support groups and I would have to remove the rainbow flag from my apartment.

If I supported any of these things, I would be considered an apostate and could get excommunicated.

· November 14, 2015


Is it sad to say that this doesn’t bother me [the mass resignation] in the least. It has been foretold that people would fall away from the church because they couldn’t abide by the doctrine. If you have a child who is gay, be very careful which son you follow. Yours or the son of God’s.”

· November 14, 2015


Regarding the Mormon Bishop BYU grad Judge:

“Under fire from critics including gay rights activists and the state’s Republican governor, a judge in Utah on Friday reversed, at least temporarily, his order that a foster child be taken away from a lesbian couple because it was “not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.”

He implemented the order just after the churches policy became news.

Utah Judge Drops Order on Lesbians’ Foster Child
NYTIMES.COM

· November 15, 2015


CNN Opinion

Benjamin R. Hertzberg, Ph.D. Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at BYU from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Member of local bishopric:

“For me, however, the choice is clear: I must loudly and publicly dissent. The new policy must go. When I read Mormon scripture, I see no justification for the authoritarian subservience so prominent in contemporary Mormon culture. Instead, I see stories that, again and again, teach me the value of acting on my moral convictions. I read Joseph Smith’s own stirring words about the proper use of priesthood authority: ‘When we exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves…’.”

 

Mormons unChristian policy on LGBTQ (Opinion) – CNN.com
CNN.COM

· November 15, 2015


“After much deliberation (and deep sobs), I wrote my Bishop today and asked to be released from all of my callings in the church. I have two at a ward level, and one at a Stake level. Shaking off the accompanying guilt and acting according to the dictates of my conscience. I simply cannot invest my energy into moving the mission forward of an organization whose executives have drawn lines in the sand that I believe make God weep.”

· November 15, 2015


“When I found out [about the policy] I felt like I got punched in the gut,” Celeste said. Choosing between her faith and sealing her love with marriage is like considering whether to cut off her left or right hand.”

Caught between apostasy and heartbreak: a Mormon lesbian love story
THEGUARDIAN.COM

· November 15, 2015


[From lesbian LDS woman]
Today i was at church where i felt very warmly welcomed and embraced.

I live in Holland …

The bisshop had chosen not to read the new policy off the stand, but to let a good friend of mine share his feelings about it.

That was such a loving way of goin about it.

The president of the High Priests visited me this week right after the ward council, because people there were concerned what it might do to me if they would read the new policy off the stand this sunday. That was very loving and considerate.

Also he told me the whole ward council exploded after the news of the new policy spread and people were shocked.

One of the bishops councelors said: “Why is this of their bussiness?”

I hugged him later that night as i met him by accident and thanked him for saying that.

There was an email sent around by the President of the High Priests to all people in the ward who were concerned because of the new policy and that was also heart warmingEsp to read the names opf those he had sent it to.

A few people have asked to bereleased because of the policy:

a counselor of the Stake Coucil (he was also my former bisshop) and his wife the Primary President (although she is hesitant).

I spoke with the primary president today

The reason the primary president is hesitant, is because on the one hand she doesnt feel she could do it to a child: preparing him for baptism for 7 years and then say: “Sorry…. you are the exception to the rule….” Although there is no such child in our ward today, she still says she couldnt do that in case.

One person said she hesitated to ask to be released as a YW counselor.

She said she felt ashamed for the church

and had spoken with her teenage children about it last week and was about to not go to such a church anymore with her children.

Yet she came and is still hesitant because she knows the JW need her\but that she could never teach what the church teaches now with the new policy.


whereas gay marriage has been legal in Holland for 15 years now and where was the church all those 15 years?

But now that its all happening in Utah and in the States, suddenly there has to be a new policy.

And that made her feel like we in Europe are not part of the church


It was great to feel such love

(also during the sacrament i felt my saviors love about this so strongly)

I would not have wanted to miss all that, so i was glad to go to church today!

· November 15, 2015


Friends in the Gospel – Suffer the Little Children

“Really struggling with this policy. I’m 72 and just can’t grasp this, not in the church I grew up in and the lessons I was taught. Heartbreaking!” “Mom, I heard about the new church policy. I was wondering if I can switch to a non-LDS scout troop”

· November 16, 2015


I got a phone call from my dad today…2nd in 14 years. He’s a former Bishop, RM, current temple worker TBM to the core…and yet……….today he called to tell me to tell me he loved me, that he was NOT going to shun me, that he wants to have a relationship with me, that he thinks what the church is doing with this “dis avowing” crap is crap and that perhaps working at the temple isn’t as stimulating as working a job and making money. He told me twice he loved me and frankly, for the first time since I was 3 I heard MY dad….not zombie church dad, but MY dad. You see, my brother is also gay and he has a daughter that is just about to turn 18…and this topic has hit so close to the heart that for a TBM like my dad it has woken him.

I’m still in shock. Baby steps, but I never EVER thought I’d get that phone call.

· November 17, 2015


(Taken from a letter I wrote to my bishop and stake president.)

I am a mental health therapist, and I currently work as a Suicide Prevention Coordinator in the federal government system. As such, I have immersed myself in the research regarding why people die by suicide and I have provided therapy to men and women who have attempted to end their lives and are struggling daily with thoughts of killing themselves. Several of my clients have identified as gay, lesbian, or transgender. As a part of my duties, I also perform mental health “suicide autopsies” following suicide deaths. I have shed tears alongside family members who are grieving the suicide of a loved one, trying somehow to put the pieces of their lives back together, knowing that no one ever heals completely from this kind of tragedy. It is from this perspective that I am sharing my thoughts.

The current changes to the church policies regarding LGTB members represent the most violent specific policy actions toward our gay brothers and sisters in the history of the church and will almost certainly contribute to suicides. Among the most serious suicide risk factors per current research is a sense of “thwarted belongingness.” Belongingness is a fundamental human need and the lack thereof is correlated with increased suicide risk. Many LGTB members of the church, including those in same-sex relationship have found ways to belong to their ward families despite church teachings about homosexuality. There are many LGTB members who attend weekly and participate in their wards. There are many with strong testimonies of the restoration who are raising their children in the gospel. This policy change will remove the ability of local leaders to view each situation in unique manner or to create ward environments that are welcoming to gay members. This measure will strip whatever sense of belongingness remains with respect to gay members and the church they love if they choose to be in a relationship. Worse, it strips belongingness from their children. They will effectively be “second class saints.” These children can never fully belong, through no fault of their own, and the mental health consequences will be very real and in some cases deadly.

Gay youth in our families will face even more dissonance and pain regarding their sexual identity knowing that if they ever marry it will mean immediate triggered expulsion from their tribe and faith community and that their children will also be stigmatized. It would be reasonable to predict an increase in suicides among gay youth in the church. In addition, many gay members with children will be faced with a deadly catch 22 where if they choose to be celibate, the loneliness and isolation resulting from thwarted emotional needs will place them at an increased risk for suicide, and on the other hand, if they choose to be in a relationship, their children will be punished and removed from the ability to participate in the church they love. This is a recipe for suicide.

As a mental health professional and a faithful Latter Day Saint, I cannot in good conscience be silent about this. I sustain the leaders of the church and do not question their intent, but I am deeply concerned about the consequences. I have a testimony of the gospel and I intend to continue participating in the church but I will not support these changes and I wish to state my objections loud and clear. This will lead to suicides. We are Latter-Day Saints and we can do better.

· November 17, 2015


In the past week and a half I have listened to friends cry so hard I can’t understand what they are saying, heard friends grapple with letting go of family entirely because their family won’t even talk to them about what it is like to be categorized as worse than a murderer or child molester, heard of people hospitalized for being suicidal and even the suicide of a gay father. I don’t have enough hands or wisdom or anything else to begin to make a dent in this. I am wrestling with what to say and what not to say. I really want to yell. …

· November 17, 2015


Just had a bishop in AZ tell me that last night his stake held a bishops training with their stake president re: the new practice. The question was asked if children who visit their LGBT parent during the summer would still be allowed to participate in priesthood ordinances. The SP said no. The bishop pressed, pointing out the clarification’s “primary residence” requirement, but the SP reiterated his stance and said it was his Spirit-borne interpretation. He admitted he’d not received any additional guidance beyond Friday’s clarification.

· November 17, 2015


The damage continues. She did everything expected of her including a mission and a temple marriage. But in the end she was living a lie and had to move on. The new policy affects her children.

A Mormon Lesbian on How the Church’s New Policies Will Affect Her Family
SLATE.COM

· November 18, 2015


I don’t know what this is going to bring about, aside from wanting people to know that life as a gay Mormon sucks. And it keeps sucking every moment of every day. I don’t see that ending any time soon so long as I stay in the church that I used to love. There is nothing for me here. If there is, tell me. Let me know. Your condolences can only go so far.”

My Life At BYU-I As A Gay Mormon
ZELPHONTHESHELF.COM

· November 18, 2015


Tonight i am so thankful for a loving and caring bishop and stake president. We went in for a meeting to discuss the SSA issue and the new policy, despite a week’s worth of anguish, stress, mild depression, and losing 7lbs, fearing the worst…We were met with love, kindness, gentleness, empathy and understanding. Trust and faith were restored. When I came home I dropped to my knees in a flood of tears. Im so grateful to the Lord for blessing us with a bishop and SP who lead with their hearts and let the Spirit guide. #grateful #thankful #tendermercies

· November 18, 2015


“Several faithful members, including a former bishop and his wife, decided to resign from office, and to refuse any callings in the future, considering the ward now a their home, more than the church. Others consider to redefine their tithing as budget, to have it stay inside the ward. Yes, we are economically minded, as Dutch. The primary president still is struggling how she can guide kids towards baptism, when some of them might be excluded from that covenant. One returned missionary testified of his struggle to comprehend, touched by the hurt of several gay people very close to him.”

A sad Sunday

A sad Sunday
TIMESANDSEASONS.ORG

· November 18, 2015


Why you should feel great about the Mormon Church’s gay policy
YOUTUBE.COM

· November 18, 2015


A Stake President said over the pulpit Sunday that the new policy will not change anything in how his wards operate, and that if members of his stake were unhappy with the policy, they should write letters — which he would forward to Salt Lake.

· November 19, 2015


Dear Bishop ________, After praying about the calling extended to me , the answer I was given was that it was my choice to accept or refuse. I chose to accept the calling.

I regret having to inform you that I am now making a different choice. The new Handbook 1 policy that was exposed on November 5th created a dilemma I hoped I would never have to face. Since the shock wore off (mostly), I’ve spent hours and hours consulting the scriptures, pondering, talking with the Lord about it, and trying to comprehend.

The conclusion I have reached is that this policy contradicts the Doctrine of Christ regarding baptism as contained in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine & Covenants, and directions regarding treatment of innocent children given by Christ, the Savior of the world. I’m very familiar with all the explanations and justifications of “protecting children”, and I don’t accept them. I’ve witnessed how this policy is dividing families, and destroying tender, growing testimonies. This policy only serves to cleanse the church of gays by making their children latter-day untouchables. Not only do I NOT sustain the brethren, but I am OPPOSED to them on this policy, and I cannot pretend otherwise. The choice before me is to either follow prophets or follow Christ. I choose to follow Christ, as I understand Him.

At this time I will not be accepting callings or attending meetings; I will be taking a “sabbatical” for a year for communion with the Lord. I will also not be paying tithes or offerings to the church, but will instead donate that money to various causes related to LGBTQ youth in our State, and in the church, who are already in even greater need and at greater risk in the aftermath of this policy.

While I know that I am worthy in the Lord’s eyes, I will relinquish my Temple Recommend to you, as I can no longer answer at least 3 of the questions to the satisfaction of the policymakers of this church.

Please understand that I do not take this step lightly, or without great pain and disappointment in the church that I have loved and served for almost half a century. I love my Savior and His Gospel, and I will do all I can to follow and serve Him. Should He direct me to return at the end of a year, I will do so. But after 5 years of constant wrestling since my child came out, I am emotionally exhausted; and this last blow has left me spiritually wounded in a way that you cannot imagine. So, now I will take the time I need to heal.

I respect and appreciate you, Bishop ________, and hope we can continue to be friends. However, I do not want to be anybody’s “special project”. I do not need to be saved from myself, or proselyted. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement, Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon; but the chasm between the Gospel and the institution is too far for me to bridge at this time.

Thank you.”

· November 19, 2015


How different might the church be if those who espouse such a policy could be witness to the tender love shared between faithful mothers and their beloved sons on that happy occasion, and the devotion between two young men pledging to spend their lives in the pursuit of happiness for the other.

If only they could see into my husband’s heart, and be touched by the love that permeated every cell, changing him from a man who loves God, to a man who loves.”

I am serious… And don’t call me Shirley!: Soulmates
SURELYYOURENOTSERIOUS.BLOGSPOT.COM

· November 19, 2015


This new policy has knocked the wind out me. As the mother of a gay son, I weep for what this means for my beautiful child, for his future children, for my future grandchildren.

I sat in church two weeks ago and sobbed as I listened to primary children sing about Jesus and his love for the little children, heard their sweet talks about how when they turned eight, they would be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and how excited they were about it. It broke my heart! All I could think about is why not for my son? Why not for his kids? ”

· November 19, 2015


[From a lawyer who has offered to help with resignations from the church]

“I just dropped 1,830 letters in the mail today,” he says. “Prior to that, I processed 679. And I still have plenty more in my inbox to work on.”

· November 19, 2015


I was moved by a conversation I had with dear friend I’ve know since High school. It has been decades since he attended the LDS church. And my friend who is now labeled an apostate is filled with sorrow. He lives with with his partner of 15 years in a small conservative Idaho town. The following are snippets of our conversation:

Me: I am interested…. for myself in knowing just where your pain comes from J.xxx? Is it from knowing that this is the church you gave your life to… and yet they have given you one more blow?…..This morning you said you were sobbing……What hurt ? And why?

Jxxx : “So hard to describe….I love the hymns…the Choir…the beautiful temples…..the plan of salvation…everything!!! It feels like something that I have always loved has died…and it kills me to realize that what I have always loved never loved me and never will!!!”

“I feel like I’ve been in hell for the last two weeks. My 28 year old son shared his opinion on facebook. He was pretty upset where he lived with me and Rxxx since he was 14. He wants to resign his membership and it’s got some of my family and and people I work with all worked up over us “choosing to be offended.” Can’t get rid of the knot in my stomach. L”

“…..My son texted me before I saw his post on facebook….his words….”My latest facebook post may light up some family arguments….Just know that I love you both”……F##k the LDS Church. I no longer consider myself a member and will be joining a new Christian church here in XXXX.” I was shocked by his comments….about the church…..but more shocked by him saying…” but know that I love you both!” I’ve always assumed that he was ashamed of me and Rxxx , and didn’t want any of his friends to to know. It was like…..my son loves me!!! …And my partner!!!,,,,and he’s shouting it to the world!!!

“…..He made me feel like I need to stand up and be proud of who I am!!…..rather than trying to be someone else running around shushing everyone and trying to be someone that I am not!”

“…… On November 11th Rxxx and l celebrated 15 years of living in apostasy! It’s such an ugly word….. when I use that word at work that’s when I get the comments that I need to calm down and quit choosing to be offended this is just how it is nothing new here…”

· November 20, 2015


Rachel Rueckert writes for the Nashville Scene, “even when we don’t see eye to eye.” Ruckert describes herself as “a Mormon and a feminist. I am a Mormon and a fierce LGBTQIA+ and social justice advocate. I am a Mormon and a free thinker.” Rueckert writes “If my grandma could sacrifice so much for her faith, surely I can summon the moral courage to stand up to my own church instead of simply leaving. Many people like me abandon religion, and I don’t blame them. Staying isn’t for everyone. But despite my doubts, something keeps tugging me back. Mormonism is my path, my dharma. For me, the prospect of leaving my community has been more agonizing than the daily reality of struggling with its painful contradictions. Besides, if I stay, maybe I can do some good by speaking out against those contradictions. In my heart, I know that this new church policy is wrong, a warped misreading of the loving gospel found in the Mormon scripture canon. I realize that it’s grounded in fear, which leaves me wondering whether Mormonism’s history of persecution has us interpreting threats where there are none. I worry that our misinformed distress is perpetuating the very bigotries my ancestors fled.”

· November 20, 2015


The Guardian (UK) on the mass resignation. Attorney Mark Naugle, who is assisting individuals wishing to resign their membership in the LDS Church free of charge. “When he graduated from law school in 2009, Naugle decided he would help Mormons wishing to formally leave the church by filing their paperwork free of charge – hoping to make their experience easier than his had been. He estimates he filed around 375 resignations between 2009 and October 2015. But in the past two weeks, he’s filed thousands. “I’ve just now got four emails in my inbox,” Naugle said approximately 10 minutes into an interview over the phone. “They were coming in about one a minute for the first week or so.””

· November 20, 2015


For all of the reasons children exclude each other — race, gender, socio-economic status, religion — the new LDS policy of excluding children from church practices and rituals because they have gay parents adds one more painful, damaging layer and reason to be left out at school.

“This type of passive-aggressive behavior comes from a deep sense of anger and resentment and is an attempt to control the child and the situation is a classic push-pull relationship. We love you but reject you will now be seen as acceptable behavior and rationale by the children, in the classrooms in our schools, toward their classmates.

“As experienced educators, we are asking the church to realize the harm their latest policy toward gays invokes on their innocent children who might want acceptance into your church and still be allowed to love their parents. We ask the leaders of the Mormon church to recognize this policy doesn’t only affect what is taught and learned within the walls of your wards and temples but spills over to the lunchrooms, playgrounds and classrooms of our schools. It places burden on educators to insure every child is supported in a safe environment and their social, emotional, psychological and academic needs are met.

“We would hope the church leaders recognize this is an unnecessary burden on these children and respectfully request they “renounce” this policy that victimizes children in so many ways.”

Op-ed: What happens in church doesn’t stay in church
SLTRIB.COM

· November 20, 2015


From the Atlantic:

“Now, gay and lesbian Mormons, married or not, are upset; extended families of LGBT Latter-day Saints are upset; some devout members are upset at policies they perceived as draconian or doctrinally problematic; and conservative Mormons are upset with fellow congregants who questioned the wisdom of the changes or the inspiration of leaders. That’s a lot of unhappiness over a few lines in a handbook.”

The Challenge of Being Gay, Married, and Mormon
THEATLANTIC.COM

· November 20, 2015


… Then in 2002, a few years after returning from his church mission in the Philippines, my oldest brother announced that he was gay. My parents knew he had struggled with “same-sex attraction” as a teenager and had tried to keep it a secret from the rest of us. After his mission, he went to reparative therapy and Mormon Bishops counseled him to marry a woman. He considered it, but after two years, he felt he couldn’t “fix” himself, and decided to say as much to our family. He was alreading living in California and called us to deliver the news. I remember my sister running downstairs, screaming as if someone had died, “He’s gay!” She was sobbing. I went upstairs to find my mom. She was shouting into the phone with the scriptures open in her lap. Then she paused as she broke down in tears. “It would be easier if you were dead,” she screamed.

The whole family was heartbroken, not just because my brother was a sinner, but because he shattered our idea of the perfect eternal family. We were on the phone for hours, quoting scripture, begging him to reconsider. After we hung up, my mom said a family prayer where she asked Heavenly Father to give him AIDS so that he would repent, return to church and restore our eternal family. “Destroy him,” she prayed, “so that you can save him.”

I loved my brother but at the time I saw being gay as a choice; I was angry with him for throwing away his covenants. I wanted to stay close to him, but I didn’t ever try to see things from his perspective. I lectured. I testified. I didn’t ask questions or offer to listen. I chose the church over my brother.

After everyone knew he was gay, my aunt and uncle were afraid to have him in their home. My brother didn’t think we loved him any more, and I can’t blame him. We never spoke to him without trying to change him. He tried any drugs that people offered him, without asking what they were, just trying to dull the pain. He got hooked on crystal meth and became HIV-positive.

Eventually, he hit rock bottom and, without any help from our family, was able to get clean. He met a man who loved him for exactly who he was, no exceptions, and that turned things around for him. Finally feeling unconditional love gave him a way to heal from the conditional love that had nearly destroyed him. They were married in 2008, in the narrow window when it was legal in California. My parents met his husband and to everyone’s surprise, they liked him. “I can’t deny that he seems to be good for our son,” my mom said. I too adored him. He was gentle, attentive, artistic and brought out the best in my brother. For a brief moment, there was a ceasefire in the family. Then, the Mormon prophet asked all the members in California to canvass for the passage of Prop 8, something that would nullify their son’s happy and stabilizing marriage. My parents didn’t pause for reflection, they did what most faithful Mormons do when the prophet speaks: they obeyed.

I didn’t have to face the same decision as my parents because I lived in New York, but that was a turning point for me. I knew my brother’s marriage was beautiful and good and I could see how it had saved him. I finally realized I could love my brother, or I could support Prop 8 and boycott his “choices.” I chose my family over the church. …”

 

I left my church for my family
SALON.COM

· November 21, 2015


…if there is one thing a Mormon doesn’t like, it’s a polygamist Mormon. The bullying and constant feeling of being “less than” among my classmates was brutal. This happened because I was paying the price for the choices and actions of my ancestors. I was being punished for my father’s sins, and not my own: a direct conflict of the Second Article of Faith.

I was a pawn in the church’s grown-up version of bullying and intimidation, and now the children of gay people are, too…”

Allred: I was a pawn in LDS bullying and intimidation
SLTRIB.COM

· November 22, 2015


“Two more suicides yesterday. All is not well in Zion.”

· November 22, 2015


LDS Therapist: “when a religion takes a normal part of someone’s life – in this case, who they fall in love with and consequently become attached to, committed to and sexual with – and declares it a sin (playing the God trump card); there are going to be dire consequences. Because now a person has to either reject or repress a natural part of themselves, or reject the religion: leading to a no-win situation and lose-lose for all involved. … I have advocated for a long time that LGBTQ individuals be held to the same standard as heterosexuals when it comes to the Law of Chastity. ”

When What is Normal is Declared Sin
PATHEOS.COM

· November 22, 2015


To Mormon leaders:

As a child, I attended weekly Sunday school bearing a secret, knowing that it was unsafe to tell anyone. I heard only negativity about gay people. Such lessons sank deep: being gay is a “perversion,” so I was a perversion.

No visible LGBTQ people existed in my world. Being discovered could mean death — like Matthew Shepard, who a Mormon-raised boy crucified, hanging him to bleed to death on a desolate Wyoming fence one bitter night.

My teenage body became emaciated through fasting and prayer upon dark Pacific seas while an airman fighting what you said was my dragon to slay. For years, I pled for fortitude to overcome what you taught was a temptation. Later, I served two years as a missionary managing to hide my homosexuality for fear of being sent home in disgrace.

At Brigham Young University, I tried conversion therapy in the counseling center modeled from Joseph Nicolosi. His theories deceived many: homosexuality is a developmental disorder surmountable through “therapy” to reach one’s “full heterosexual potential.” Earlier aversion therapy at BYU hooked boys’ penises to heinous contraptions while inducing vomiting when aroused to cure a disease that does not exist.

One night, a brother from the conversion-therapy group planned to leap off a cliff in Provo Canyon to release the pain of your false teachings. We saved him. Yet untold others are lost — including Stuart, whose blood stains the steps of a Mormon chapel, his final plea, a senseless sacrifice, for greater understanding.

Members embraced me when I came out during testimony meeting asking whether there is a place for us. But leadership swiftly convened a court. That stormy night in a room without air-conditioning, 17 men held an appalling trial with false witnesses. By 2 a.m., the stake president pronounced excommunication for “apostasy”— a severing from the church of my pioneer ancestors and eternal damnation — because I showed up at church as a self-affirming gay person.

My story is not unique. More than 500,000 Mormons are LGBTQ.

My parents named me after a Book of Mormon prophet, Samuel, a Lamanite. Lamanites were outsiders to the church that had become corrupted. He famously stood upon the city walls saying what the Lord put into his heart. You teach to liken scriptures to ourselves. Following Samuel’s example, the Lord has put this into my heart:

General and local leaders of this church must repent for failing to follow the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and the First and Second Great Commandments. Samuel asked then as now: “How long will you suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? How long will ye choose darkness rather than light?” Justice cries out:

Wo unto you for professing to lead Christ’s church while failing to love LGBTQ people as yourselves!

Wo until you whose hands are stained with the blood of LGBTQ souls!

Wo unto you for spiritual violence against LGBTQ people and our children, while waving banners of “religious freedom” and “family values”— blind to the worth of our families and denying our religious freedom to remain a part of our faith!

Wo unto you for purposeful ignorance to light and knowledge available in plain sight!

I am filled with the Spirit of indignation out of love for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, whom to know is to love, as Jesus has loved you.

Such a love would reveal to you an understanding now proven by social scientists: supportive environments toward LGBTQ people correspond with positive mental and physical health outcomes. Hostile, unaccepting environments yield the opposite result.

Such a love would reveal to you what virtually every reputable organization of mental health professionals globally confirm: Homosexuality is a natural variation of human sexuality. The implications are profound. Our church is ours as well as yours; we are due a dignified place.

You claim the “truth.” Truth requires acknowledgment that you were beguiled by the lie that we are inferior to heterosexuals — as you were with respect to African-Americans. We are children of God the same as you. Truth requires acknowledgment of the grave harm you have inflicted. That is needed to begin healing our communities.

Samuel Wolfe is an attorney living in Alabama.

Op-ed: Dear Mormon leaders: Know the truth about homosexuality
SLTRIB.COM

· November 22, 2015


“Those signing this petition wish to send a strong message to our government that promoting the punishment of children for the sexual orientation of a parent, by denying them the same opportunities and treatment as their peers, and by requiring them to disavow their family and leave the family home at 18, is extremely harmful and cannot be considered supportive, charitable, tolerant, or in any way beneficial to the public.”

Senator Penny Wong: Remove “advancement of religion” from…
CHANGE.ORG

· November 23, 2015


And yet they are my brother, my uncle, my friend, my neighbor. They are me, in every way that matters. How can we possibly square this with the command “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”? (Matthew 22:29, RSV)

So I am angry.

Then there’s the children.

Christian Kimball: Anger [1], Marriage [2] , and the Mormon Church [3]
BLOG.SUPPLYSIDELIBERAL.COM

· November 23, 2015


“…I feel that those who remain within the church can respectfully protest this policy and in doing so, can help LGBT members who are still in the pews, some of them out and some of them not. In particular, I am concerned about LGBT teens who are terrified to tell the truth about themselves to parents who do not realize yet that their own children are suffering because of this policy. Those are the ones who are at greatest risk of suicide and it is to them I feel I am speaking when I protest in the ways listed above.”

13 Ways to Protest the New Policy for Active Mormons
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

· November 23, 2015


It is hard for me to resign because so much of my personality is inextricably linked with Mormonism. Growing up when and where I did, with the local leaders I was lucky to have, I was able to learn many profound life lessons through the lens of Mormonism. I learned altruism. I learned how to listen. I have seen more selfless acts of service, of charity, of kindness in my church than I have anywhere else.

. . .

And hard hearts can be softened. I have seen it happen. After the policy change became public, my old roommate (who rejected her sister’s lifestyle choice) sent me a private Facebook message to let me know she was thinking of me, and that she was reading everything she could about the experiences of gay Mormons to better understand what we were feeling. My mother, who once covered a magazine picture of Rosie O’Donnell kissing a woman so it wouldn’t taint my young eyes, marches as an ally in pride parades and has driven my congregation to donate regularly to a local homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. To me, these are perfect demonstrations of charity — what we call the pure love of Christ.

People need to see the faces of those they are hurting; they need to see this policy affects more than those who already had one foot out the door. They need to understand that this is my church, too, and how dare they turn me away from the faith I have given so much for. I am often left weary and emotionally drained from struggling to be understood in those pews. But I’m young and new to the fight and not ready to stop.”

I’m Queer, The Mormon Church Doesn’t Want Me, But I’m Staying
BUZZFEED.COM

· November 23, 2015


… Former Stake President and bishop… told me doesn’t have any gay members in his family (that he knows about) but that the latest church policy very felt wrong to him.

His voice was emotional and shaky but he said, “I am going to protest this.”

This man who has never questioned his faith, but had nowhere else to turn is standing against this policy by putting his tithing elsewhere. …”

· November 23, 2015


Like many Mormons, I disagree with the church’s position on gay marriage, but I recognize that there is a plausible theological case to be made in its defense. By contrast, this policy could not oppose our foundational doctrine more directly. At the center of Mormonism is Christ. He said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me.” George Q. Cannon, a latter-day apostle, interpreted this verse: “We have no hint that [Jesus] asked whose children they were, or the standing or faith of their parents … All little children, no matter what their parentage may be, are innocent in the sight of heaven, and they should be received as such and blessed as such.” Are we willing to trade that doctrine for this policy?

If not, we have within our tradition resources for sustaining our leaders while disagreeing with some of their decisions. In the early church, Brigham Young worried that Mormons would settle into “blind self-security” that would “weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way.”

Op-ed: Dissent while remaining loyal to LDS Church
SLTRIB.COM

· November 24, 2015


As I have borne witness of my story to ecclesiastical and political leaders, some receiving it with antagonism and others with an open heart, and now as my beloved faith tradition has labeled our family counterfeit and my wife and I apostates, enemies of the faith we know and love -I have this to bear me up: I know God loves me. I know LGBT souls are a beautiful iteration of the great diversity of his creation, each a revelation and a promise -and this propels me forward. Where intractable uncertainty lay I have found my footing and feel finally that the foundation beneath my feet is sound

My faith has become something more inclusive than the tribal exceptionalism that we so readily embrace in Mormonism. After all, I have had many experiences with God’s affirming love for me and my wife individually and as a married couple. I witness the fruits of the spirit in our little family even when the ecclesiastical leaders of my faith tradition assert that this could not possibly be so. I know what is like to be a fourteen year old boy with an unconventional experience with God to share, and to have people, even religious and political leaders of the highest repute say that it could not possibly be so. But here I am feeling profoundly loved and affirmed by the divine as an LGBT daughter of God and I cannot deny it. Now more than ever we can feel God’s hand gently guiding and lighting the way for our little family.”

A Polyphony of Three – Affirmation

A Polyphony of Three

· November 24, 2015


“My family celebrated Thanksgiving early this year, and I want to share how the tough conversations went, in case you might be anxious about your own family discussions over the holiday. My mothers are gay, [most of our large family were there]… I found myself the lone Mormon at the table. One of my brothers looked at me a couple of times like he wanted to say something, but then stopped. There was some tension throughout the meal, and then as we were clearing the table my sister burst into tears and asked if I was going to disavow her. I pulled her close and sobbed as I assured her I would never disavow her, and then I went to each of my siblings and parents and promised them the same thing. I told them how hurt I was by the recent policy changes and that I am struggling to figure out what, if any, my continued activity in the church might look like. … In the end, although we cried plenty, we loved more. And that is the best anyone can ask for. I hope and pray all of you find more love than fear and more joy than pain in the coming days.”

· November 24, 2015


“My initial reaction to the new LDS Church Handbook of Instructions’ directives regarding the children of gay couples was something akin to horror. Excommunicating individuals in same-sex marriages was one thing, but why exclude the kids? Wasn’t that directly contradictory to the Savior’s own teaching regarding children, that his disciples should suffer them to come unto him?”

Young Stranger: Truth, Lord, Yet the Dogs Eat of the Crumbs…
YOUNGSTRANGER.BLOGSPOT.COM

· November 24, 2015

Pair is alive because of compassion; now they render it
HERALDEXTRA.COM

· November 24, 2015


“…I’m personally done meeting with people at church headquarters and believing that somehow our stories matter – at least in the upper echelons of the institutional church. But I continue to love Mormons profoundly with my whole soul. I love members of the church. They’re my people. They’re the ones that formed me in my youth. And that’s the one thing that doesn’t change and won’t ever change for me.”

Mormon Woman Grapples With New Church Guidelines On Same-Sex…
NPR.ORG

· November 24, 2015


BREAKING: Fifteen (15) of the SCOTUS’ Obergefell same-sex marriage plaintiffs issue statements speaking out against the Mormon Church’s recent policy against gay people and children of gays.

Today, Obergefell plaintiffs issued the following statements condemning the Mormon Church’s Nov 3, 2015 policy:

“The Mormon Church has chosen to discriminate against same-sex couples and their children in what I can only describe as a cold and cruel response to the SCOTUS ruling making same-sex marriage legal across the nation. As a Christian clergyman and SCOTUS plaintiff, I find this decision by the church to be highly abusive to the LGBT community and their children. I urge folk of good will and moral consciousness, to boycott Mormon Church sponsored events and pressure leadership to reconsider this destructive decision. Resist in love and never comply with religiously motivated bigotry and discrimination.” Rev. Maurice Blanchard

“We encourage everyone to sign the petition at http://change. org/mormontabernaclechoir, asking the guest performers to cancel their appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, because with two small children of our own this policy disheartens us because it tears families apart. This feels like a direct attack of the family recognition that we fought for this summer as plaintiffs in the case that brought marriage equality to our country. “ Pamela & Nicole Yorksmith

“What the Mormon Church is doing is a perfect example of EVIL – especially when you have spiritual leaders condoning hate in the name of God. From the beginning of time people have used God to justify what is unjustifiable. Furthermore, Science is MUCH older than Religion – therefore the Talmas-Vitale family has a hard time believing anything that comes from modern religion – especially one that was founded in 1830!” Joseph Vitale, Rob Talmas, Cooper Talmas-Vitale

“As named plaintiffs in the Kentucky Bourke vs. Beshear case that was joined with Obergefell vs. Hodges at SCOTUS we reiterate our support for the http://change. org/mormontabernaclechoir petition and what it seeks to achieve. Real people and real families are being torn apart by the LDS Church’s new and hateful policy that punishes innocent children. Please sign and help us spread the word asking the guest performers to cancel.” Greg Bourke, Michael De Leon, Isaiah Bourke De Leon, Isabella Bourke De Leon

“We have had the great privilege to have several devout Mormon friends and close family supporting us in our long struggle for marriage equality. Therefore we have much respect for the church and its devout people of faith. As such, we ask the Elders to please reconsider their recent exclusion of the children of whose parents may be in a same gender relationship. Please do not separate the children from the love of Christ because of the perceived sins of their parents. Remember the words of Christ in Matthew 19:14 ” Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Timothy Love & Lawrence Ysunza-Love

“I’ve always fought for basic fairness for families to include my own. As a plaintiff in the recent Obergefell v. Hodges case that helped advance equality for all families, I am proud to support the http://change. org/mormontabernaclechoir petition, and I call on the guest performers to cancel their Christmas concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This latest action of the Mormon Church directly attacks families by forcing children to choose between their Faith or their own family. To place this burden on children is fundamentally unfair.” Ijpe DeKoe

“We have children along with some of our co-plaintiffs and just thinking how horrible that would be. We do NOT support the church that sees this to be a bad thing having gay parents. Just having parents for so many wonderful kids who need families. We are great parents and it’s not just “gay” parents. We LOVE like all great parents, and to try and verso that up is unthinkable to us. We are equal and we LOVE equally, as though should ALL !!” Tammy Boyd & Kim Franklin

MormonPetition@gmail.com

· November 24, 2015


“Tonight I met with my sp and bp. They called me in because I had publicly disavowed the policy. To them if you are publicly against this policy it is the same as being against the prophet. They asked me if I would essentially keep my views to myself. No. They were bothered that I said I didn’t think this came from God and that I said this policy is an attack on the family. I stood by those statements. Released from my calling … on the spot. Temple recommend taken. But this I know. God loves all his children, as they are. And celebrates all families. This is a dark time in our history, but a bright opportunity to claim our holy duty to stand with those who are personally affected. And stand with God, which is not the same as standing with policy. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And His precious children and the families that love them.”

· November 25, 2015


…I am not an apostate. I am someone who has grown up truly loving my experiences in the church and everything it has given me, and people in my congregation know that….

People need to see the faces of those they are hurting; they need to see this policy affects more than those who already had one foot out the door. They need to understand that this is my church, too, and how dare they turn me away from the faith I have given so much for. I am often left weary and emotionally drained from struggling to be understood in those pews. But I’m young and new to the fight and not ready to stop….

I’m Queer, The Mormon Church Doesn’t Want Me, But I’m Staying
BUZZFEED.COM

· November 26, 2015


Todd Richardson, 31, an out gay man who belongs to a ward in New York City, said the policy, “broke my heart,” adding, “this hit me harder than any other one thing.” Richardson said his community is accepting, but that “the church has never been affirming by any means.” The current situation has proven difficult for him: He plans to get married and start a family, and the church’s decision has made it clear how hard that will be. He told me that this is the first time he’s ever really questioned leaving the church.

But Richardson is choosing to see the church’s decision as a hurdle, rather than an exit point. He prayed on what to do, he told me, and said he “got this profound feeling that this is a hard thing, and for whatever reason that it’s happened it’s been allowed to happen. And the savior is asking me if I’m going to walk way… and I decided that I’m not going to.

· November 27, 2015


Christian Harrison, who lives in Salt Lake City, also described a deep connection with his faith. Harrison told me that he grew up within the church, and that it’s been far from easy. “I was called an abomination growing up,” he told me over the phone. “I’m used to having people that I revere as men of God hurt my feelings.” But these interactions with clergy didn’t prevent him from having “a lifetime worth of spiritual experiences that are too sacred to share.” These experiences, he said, have “knit my soul to this church.”

For Harrison, the misguided opinions of LDS leaders aren’t reason enough to stop doing the spiritual—and charitable—work of the Mormon church. That work includes fighting for change from within the LDS. He’s concerned that if people abandon the church in protest at this time, only its most callous members will remain. “When the tender hearted all leave, where does that leave us? Where are we as a faith if we scare off everyone that is sensitive to the needs of our minority groups and those that are vulnerable?

Meet the gay Mormons standing by their church
FUSION.NET

· November 27, 2015


“American Baptist here: I’m intrigued by other theology’s and love to learn all I can about them. I spend a fair amount of time on-line and read various religion web sites. The main problem other believers have with the most recent doctrine (not sure that’s an accurate description) about homosexuality. Is the abhorent policy about the children of gay families. Calling their parents apostates, well okay, progressive Christians may not agree with you but they may hold out hope, that with time may come more acceptance. What really upsets people is denying these children the rites of baptism etc.. And the real sacrilege is demanding that they also turn their backs on their parents when they turn 18 in order to complete their ordinances. That is just completely appalling to other believers eyes, just mindblowingly cruel.”

· November 28, 2015


I have something to say. We are not your enemies. Our spouses are not your enemies. And our children are not your enemies. We are your sons and daughters. We have loved this church, been devoted to it, and we honor the rich heritage it brings to our lives and our cultural and spiritual identities.

There are real enemies out there. Poverty, abuse, famine, war, genocide, human trafficking, climate change, pollution, cancer, Alzheimer’s, gun violence, addiction, teen suicide, mental illness, homelessness, global terrorism, and on and on. You are in such a unique position of power to effect dramatic, needed change in the world as we face these formidable foes. You have done so much already to address many of these plaguing issues through remarkably generous humanitarian aid and relief efforts and volunteerism and community organizing and education.

The astounding capacity you possess to organize and create a direct positive impact in the lives of so many is one of the things I love most about my Mormonism. It makes me feel proud. I’m honored to have come from this tradition and prize my deep and abiding Mormon roots. I see in you a community that abounds with more grace and beauty in its home to home and heart to heart expression of true religion and unrestrained Christlike love for family and neighbor than I’ve witnessed anywhere else. I see that exemplified in my faithful LDS mother and father, and in my dearest friends, and former mission companions, and BYU classmates, and ward members, and co-workers.

Today I saw something different than that. Today I saw fear and discrimination as you rolled out decisions and policy that hurt and exclude and oppress. They don’t just hurt me and my fellow LGBTQ members; they hurt the family and friends of whom I spoke who love and support me just as I am, who embrace and welcome me without limits or conditions, who extend to me the gifts of love personified by Christ, in whose name they go about their daily work of living and loving as saints in these latter days.

What they know, because they have stayed with me even as my path has diverged from orthodoxy, is that I am the same person they have always known and loved and accepted into the warm embrace of their fellowship. It is the first call of the Gospel: to love God and each other with fearlessness, with fierceness, and with fidelity. They see me. And I see them, in all the intricate beauty and wonder embodied within their lives of faith.

And so I extend to you an invitation: to see us, to know us, to sit across from us and break bread with us. Because it is only in so doing that any of us can ever come to understand that those we once viewed as our enemies — as the strange and suspicious other to be feared and kept at bay or constrained and punished — are actually part of the same human family to which all of us belong as vital and indispensable pieces of a beautiful whole. I learned that from you. It may be the most valuable lesson I carry from my religious upbringing. It is written upon my heart. It’s what allows me to write this letter to you now, in sincere love and with considerable emotion. Because despite our at times despair inducing differences, I still see you. Please see me too.

Love, John

John Bonner is a licensed clinical social worker in Salt Lake City and a lifelong Mormon

· November 29, 2015


Bob Rees … served as a bishop, stake high councilor, Institute teacher and a member of the Baltic States Mission Presidencyber of the Baltic States Mission Presidency, currently teaches Mormon Studies at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. …

…That policy, which labels such parents as “apostates” and places strict limits on their children in relation to baby blessings, baptism, confirmation, ordination to the priesthood and mission calls—in other words most of the cardinal rights and rituals of membership in the Church–has caused what scientists refer to as “a disturbance in the field.” Although this term has specific meaning within both physics and psychotherapy,[2] I am using it here to describe a significant disruption in the social and emotional fabric of the LDS church, a disturbance of the normal healthy functioning of the organization. While such disturbances are predictable, they are none-the-less challenging and can be wrenching both to the organization/system and to its constituent parts—individual members– as is clearly the case with regard to LGBT members and their families and friends affected by the new policy change.

… here is only one question for us to ask at this critical time: What is the most loving thing we can do?—the most loving toward our fellow saints (including those who don’t agree with us), the most loving toward our leaders (even when we may have been hurt by their decisions) and, especially at this time, the most loving toward our gay brothers and lesbian sisters and their families. Such love will help restore order to the field of faith which constitutes Mormonism as well as the larger and wider field of Christ’s kingdom. …

Today there is immense pain in the Church. Addressing that pain depends on our individual acts of courage, of sacrifice, and especially of love. It is in that realm where much of the most important work of repairing, healing and transforming is to be done. …

I am Mitch Mayne. I am an openly gay, active Latter-day Saint.: The LDS…
MITCHMAYNE.BLOGSPOT.COM

· November 29, 2015


… Your Salt Lake Tribune, you’ve no doubt noticed, has been inundated with letters and op-ed columns from people who are about as conflicted about their church, its stand on the role of women and of the children of families headed by same-sex couples, as Huckleberry Finn was about how his whole culture treated black people. Everything he’d been taught said one thing. His heart said another. …

But when it’s a choice to be a bigot or a terrorist it’s wrong to let people get away with it by saying their surroundings, their religion, made them do it. Especially when a billion other people who nominally follow the same religion made very different choices.

As Twain also wrote, “Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

Sometimes, you have to tear the letter up.

Pyle: Sometimes, you have to tear the letter up
SLTRIB.COM

· November 29, 2015


“My bishop asked me to get him a rainbow pin. I gave it to him today. My bishop, the ally!”

· November 29, 2015


I came out as a LGBTQ ally in my ward today. We had our 5th Sunday combined meeting. The youth and adults were there. The gym was full. Our bishop spoke about various topics : visiting, home teaching, pornography and the policy change.

I raised my hand and testified of God’s love I felt when our home teachers came over and cried with me, mourned with me about the policy change. I shared about the countless hours I spent praying and crying over this. I introduced myself as an ally and regardless of any policy my love for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters will remain. I shared that we need each other.

My bishop was in tears and said thank you. He knew of my tournament. When I was done making my statement, I turned to my left and saw our gay youth cry. That youth isn’t out to the majority of the people he knows. A sister in the ward took me aside to talk to me and thank me. She has a friend who is hurting about it and she didn’t know how to comfort her and she wants her friend to know she’s no abandoning her friendship because she doesn’t feel that hurt herself.

I’m glad I had the courage to share and be whole. I feel at peace with the experience. It is not over and more love and healing is needed.”

· November 29, 2015


“Today in 5th Sunday one of the members of the bishopric spoke about suicide signs and prevention. (One of the youth in our stake recently committed suicide) He did an excellent job and was able to talk about his experiences as a social worker … I spoke about the high rates of suicide and homelessness among our LGBTQ youth. I talked about how we need to banish the idea that “virtue” is more precious than life and that our children need to know we will walk with them even when we don’t understand. I felt like there was so much vulnerability and openness in the room and some measurable progress toward Zion.”

· November 29, 2015

Mormon Parents of Gay Children Speak Out

YOUTUBE.COM

· November 29, 2015


“My husband sent in a letter on his company letterhead writing in his professional role as psychologist explaining that there had been ramifications at his office in rural xxxxxx. A non-member client had experience such conflict wth her LDS in-laws over the policy that she had a really bad episode of self-harming. He was so disturbed that he felt compelled to write. ”

· November 30, 2015


… Sustained by the kindness of ward members and reminders that we are all children of God, going to church does not cause conflict for my children, but gives them a safe place to acknowledge conflicts they already know exist. Participation in church blessings and ordinances, such as baptism, confirms for them the fact that even children from non-traditional families, like ours, are known, cherished and watched-over by God.

Recently, the LDS Church announced policy that prohibits children of married, same-sex parents from being named, blessed and baptized until they are of “legal age” and have disavowed the “practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.” As rationale, Elder Todd Christofferson cites desire to protect children from conflict “in very tender years.” While I appreciate his good intentions, my own experience suggests that even more than protection, children in nontraditional families need support and unconditional love. They benefit most when they find themselves secure, in the center of families and organizations that accept them as exactly who they are.

So when I consider the new LDS Church policy, I will leave church doctrine to Mormon leaders, and family law to the Supreme Court. I will not, however, leave children of LGBT parents — the vulnerable, fledgling, humans at the center of this conflict — without an advocate. I hope Mormon congregations will continue to make these children feel welcome, that we will cherish them based on their own merits, and that they can soon have the same blessings and ordinances other children do. If they want to join their children, I hope we will keep our doors and hearts open to their parents, too.

I express my hope not just because it’s the right thing to do, or even because taking care of children is something upon which most thoughtful people can agree. I express this hope because there is something magical and sacred about being a member of a loving, church community. An ordinary Mormon ward can save a family. They saved mine.

Marion Bishop, M.D., Ph.D., lives in Logan.

Op-ed: All God’s children deserve love and community
SLTRIB.COM

· November 30, 2015


I know of specific gay individuals who have contemplated suicide over this. Is that not the 1 that we go after, leaving the 99 to their contented way. …

My frustration with: the new policy and all it symbolizes + the doubling down of the devout to defend it has me increasingly feeling that it is over for me. I am in deep, deep mourning. …

Please, please, if you are opposed to the policy, let church leaders know! I understand that we are all conditioned to only talk to local leaders, but they can’t do a darn thing about this. We have to talk to the top and let them know that this isn’t going to blow over. I think they are just waiting for it all to go away, as have so many other issues. …

· November 30, 2015


… The leaders of the LDS Church and the principal pundits of the conservative movement share a common characteristic, namely, a kind of practical infallibility. In the eyes of their followers, they simply do not make mistakes; they cannot be wrong. Thus, the discrepancies between what leaders espouse and what followers feel must be explained in some other way.

This is why the strange events of this strange season suggest that the right is confronting something more than an election-year tussle. The crisis on the right is not about Lynne Cheney or Ronald Reagan or gay marriage. It is not a political crisis at all: It is a crisis of faith. It is a crisis that lies at the intersection of apostasy and orthodoxy, of blasphemy and belief. It is a litmus test for litmus testers, and is therefore less a separation of the sheep and the goats and more a division among the sheep themselves.

D. Kurt Graham is the director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, MO

Op-ed: LDS policy change is part of conservatism closing its ranks
SLTRIB.COM

· November 30, 2015


In response to the continuing polarizations regarding same-sex attractions and a non-traditional gender, including the continued debates surrounding banning or offering “conversion” therapies, we propose an alternative approach. We call upon families, mental health professionals, lawmakers, professional organizations, religious communities and individuals to move beyond the familiar adversarial strategies and to focus instead on collaborative efforts that foster respectful dialogue and a shared commitment of two core principles of ethical mental health services: 1) facilitate individual self-determination and 2) do no harm. …

To reduce the risk of harm, it is essential to understand that a person is not mentally ill or developmentally delayed simply because they experience same-sex attractions or a non-traditional gender …

In response to the continuing polarizations regarding same-sex attractions and a non-traditional gender, including the continued debates surrounding banning or offering “conversion” therapies, we propose an alternative approach. We call upon families, mental health professionals, lawmakers, professional organizations, religious communities and individuals to move beyond the familiar adversarial strategies and to focus instead on collaborative efforts that foster respectful dialogue and a shared commitment of two core principles of ethical mental health services: 1) facilitate individual self-determination and 2) do no harm.

The ethical principle of self-determination requires that each individual is seen as a whole person and supported in their right to explore, define, articulate and live out their own identity. For that reason, it is essential to acknowledge the broad spectrum of sexual and gender identities and expressions. In order to do so, it is necessary to have an equal understanding of and respect for sexual and gender minorities as well as the religious, spiritual and other ideological values of individuals and communities.

To reduce the risk of harm, it is essential to understand that a person is not mentally ill or developmentally delayed simply because they experience same-sex attractions or a non-traditional gender. While acknowledging that shifts in sexuality and gender identity can and do occur for some people, we believe it is unethical to focus treatment upon an assumption that a change in sexual orientation or gender identity will or must occur. It is also unethical to devalue the religious and other ideological values of others.

We believe the focus of treatment should be on exploring with individuals the source(s) of their distress, their beliefs and values about sexuality/gender, the nuances of their experience with sexuality/gender and realistic outcomes that might occur based on their unique experience. Therapies to help those in distress with their sexual orientation or gender expression are only ethical if each individual is guaranteed a safe environment in which to discover and express their whole authentic self.

Our call to action is for all interested parties in this debate to move beyond the battle lines of exclusion, legislation and litigation. We challenge all parties to create bridges for collaborative engagement with those who are perceived as the “other.” We believe that this respectful process will provide more hope and be a more effective route to resolve the distress associated with same-sex attractions or a non-traditional gender.

Lee Beckstead, Ph.D., Aspen Grove Counseling; Jerry Buie, LCSW, Pride Counseling; Shirley Cox, DSW, PhD., BYU School of Social Work; Ty Mansfield, Ph.D. candidate and president, North Star; David Matheson, CMHC; Candice Metzler, Ph.D. candidate and president, Transgender Education Association of Utah; David Pruden, M.A., executive director, Alliance for Therapeutic Choice & Scientific Integrity; Marybeth Raynes, LCSW, Crossroads Psychotherapy; Jim Struve, LCSW, coordinator, LGBTQ-Affirmative Psychotherapy Guild of Utah.

· November 30, 2015


“I have been mostly numb since the policy came out. I have a gay son who is now labeled an apostate. Today during the sacrament my emotions were triggered as I stepped into a new stage of grief: sorrow. Sitting in the crowded chapel surrounded by Mormon families who had come to honor a returned missionary, I pondered “ Is my son really so awful that he isn’t welcome or wanted? Why is it that even though he has loved the religion of his childhood and is doing the best he possibly can he is labeled an apostate?”

Tears flowed freely.

“ Why at the same time my son is pushed away is it is so crucial to baptize new members? Why are missionaries honored for their work and hundreds have gathered here to rejoice over missionary work? Why is my son not included? How can my son be so terrible that he isn’t wanted? Is he cursed? What am I not seeing that makes him so abhorrent? Am I blind?” I sobbed through the sacrament and had to leave because I could not compose myself.”

· November 30, 2015


Sooooooo, a friend of mine is wondering something and asked me if I could ask around. So here’s her deal.

She is 17. She is straight. She has lesbian parents and lives with them. When she was 16, she got pregnant, and had a child. She found the Mormon Church at 17 and wants to be baptized. She can’t because her parents are Lesbian. She instead wants her baby to be blessed then. The Bishop says, “I won’t do it because the babies grandparents are Lesbians”. She said she thinks this is ludicrous and I told her I agree. I guess the sins of the parents and grandparents are now a thing? Anyway, she was just wondering if this is commonplace all over the church now or if it’s just her bishop.

· November 30, 2015

Ken Jennings (LDS Jeopardy champ):

On today’s Savage Lovecast (hosted by Dan Savage), Jeopardy champion and active LDS Church member Ken Jennings publicly denounced the recent LDS Church policy changes regarding same-gender relationships and children. He also explained why he remains LDS in spite of disagreements he has with church doctrine, policy, and leadership.

Excerpt:

Jennings: Obviously, God is not speaking with them [church leaders] as directly as many Mormons like to think. He’s letting people make mistakes . . . He lets us make mistakes for reasons of his own.

Savage: So you think this is a mistake.

Jennings: I think this [policy] is not going to be around. I mean, this is a generational change that’s happening and you just can’t stop a tidal wave. . . . Jesus is on the record about how he treats children, and that’s not usually it. He suffers them to come unto him. He says if anybody is mean to a child you might as well put a millstone around his neck and dump him in the sea. Jesus takes a pretty hard line on mistreating kids. And I think even for Mormons who are normally culturally conservative, this kind of policy really makes you take a long look.

KenJenningsDanSavageSSR
EC.LIBSYN.COM

· December 1, 2015


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