Some Mormons separate gay marriage rights from church rites

Jim Urquhart Reuters Practicing Mormon Chad Smith and his daughters Kathryn, 6, left, and Olivia, 4, attend a gay pride … Continued

Jim Urquhart


Practicing Mormon Chad Smith and his daughters Kathryn, 6, left, and Olivia, 4, attend a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City on June 3. More than 300 active Mormons and more than 5,000 members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and their supporters marched in the parade as part of the Utah Pride Festival.

This summer, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around the country will be marching in LGBT pride parades in nine cities, including in D.C.’s Capital Pride parade on June 9. Participants say they are motivated not in spite of Mormon teaching but because Jesus’s message requires them to.

“Jesus didn’t say, ‘Love the person that is really easy to love or that you feel comfortable with.’ He said, ‘Love everybody,’ ” says Erika Munson, founder of the newly formed Mormons Building Bridges, which drove hundreds of church members to turn out June 3 for Salt Lake City’s Utah Pride Parade.

Mormons are taught from childhood that their role in the world is to demonstrate Jesus’s love to others, Munson and other Mormon activists say.

“This is part of our DNA,” Munson says. “If there’s a group out there that we have not been able to show this love to, we’ve got to figure out a way to do it. That’s what Mormons Building Bridges is trying to do.”

Munson, a mother of five, describes herself as a “devout Mormon” who attends church weekly and tithes. Her organization is not taking a position on marriage rights but instead is focusing on “reaching out to gay people.”

“I felt like we needed to have a group here that had nothing to do with politics and had everything to do with love,” Munson adds, noting that when she notified her bishop in Sandy, Utah, about her activism, he responded in a way that surprised her: “He was terrific. He said, ‘This is wonderful, we need to do more of this.’ ”

The LDS church teaches that, for Mormons, marriage is an eternal relationship forged in this world, binding a husband and wife to their children in this life and the next. Like members of many other traditional religious denominations, gay Mormons are considered in good standing with the church “if they do not act upon these inclinations. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the church, then they are subject to the discipline of the church, just as others are,” reads one church explanation.

In recent years, the Mormon church has more closely been associated with opposition to gay rights, most notably through its advocacy for the 2008 California ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. A 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that “two-thirds of Mormons describe themselves as politically conservative,” and three in four lean Republican, making them “the most conservative group among America’s largest religions,” as Time magazine’s Swampland blog put it.

The church’s largely progressive outliers involved with gay outreach and activism point to the church’s teachings on marriage and see ample room to maneuver. Even among those who say they respect the church’s theological position on the nature of marriage, they say much more can be done to heal relationships with the gay community, including making gays feel more welcome in the church and, for some, advocating for the civil rights of gay Americans.

Sara Long, with Mormons for Marriage Equality, is a 34-year-old mother who is an active Mormon and holds a calling within the Relief Society. She describes herself as a “straight Mormon ally for Obama.”

Her organization, under whose banner Mormons will march during D.C.’s parade Saturday, goes further than Mormons Building Bridges in its political advocacy, and says in its mission statement that “we affirm an individual’s right to marry the consenting adult partner of their choice regardless of gender or orientation.”

Says Long: “One of the tenets on the Mormon faith is personal revelation, so you can pray for inspiration and guidance on an issue or any question you have before you, and there are many Mormons who arrived at the conclusion that equal rights for all people is the right thing.”

Still, Long and Mormons for Marriage Equality separate the civil right to marriage from church definitions of marriage: “Any given religion’s [definition of] marriage is completely separate from the civil right of marriage,” she says.

Does that mean that Mormons should feel free to advocate for a definition of marriage in the public policy realm that is at odds with their church?

“The church is not directive to its members in relation to public policy or how they vote, but would obviously hope that church members would advocate for policies consistent with its moral position,” says Michael Otterson, spokesman for the LDS Church.

Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons is a third organization that represents gay and allied active Mormon church members, former members and non-members. Its supporters will also be participating in this summer’s pride marches. In a statement on its Web site, Affirmation moves the activism from the political to the theological: “We believe that our lives and relationships can be compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, and that LGBT individuals are a special part of God’s creation.”

The group also believes that “same-sex relationships are entitled to the same recognition and blessings as heterosexual relationships.”

Randall Thacker of the District serves as Affirmation’s senior vice president and has helped publicize Mormon involvement in pride marches. Thacker, who served a as Spanish-language missionary in North Carolina, had been away from the church after coming out a decade ago when, in the fall of 2011, he introduced himself to a local bishop.

“I was really missing that part of my life and I was going to go in authentically as myself. I told my bishop, ‘I’m gay, I’m in a relationship but I want to come here.’ ” Thacker says the bishop replied, “I’m not a gatekeeper for the Lord. I’m supposed to invite people to Christ and not push them away.”

Thacker said that although he feels free to attend church, being at odds with LDS teaching on homosexuality means he can’t hold a priesthood role or distribute the sacrament. “For now,” he says, “it’s more than enough.”

“My spirituality is that I totally believe in a God that is much bigger than Mormonism and that there is goodness in most faiths out there. I visited many faiths. … I spent time during the last 10 years doing that, but in the heart of me, I’m Mormon. I just could never get rid of that. It called me all the time. I felt like, ‘These are my people.’ ”

Elizabeth Tenety
Written by

  • David L Sadler

    A very small ‘rebellious’ minority of Mormons are marching at Gay Pride Marches in the US. No doubt actively encouraged by Mormon PR Inc. whose sole purpose at the moment is to get Mitt Romney elected.

    Meanwhile… The Mormon leaders were busily giving speeches at the ‘World Congress of Families’ in Madrid – an organisation very thinly veiled as ‘Pro-Family’ whose main priority appears to be fighting against GLBT equality globally. Mormon PR Inc. have managed to keep this out of the press. Why?

    This is not a conspiracy theory, it’s common sense. I’ve no doubt that post election November will see the Mormon Church proudly flying it’s true colours of Homophobic Bigotry toward the GLBT community. This small minority will be put back in its place by the living Mormon to God speaking prophet.

  • ktcjohn

    There are many good and well-intentioned Mormons who want to show Christ-like love to the sinner. That is the best method for recovering them. But that does not mean that these good Mormons love or approve of the sin. Christ loved those who were taken in sin, but he never modified his behavioural standards to match their sinful practices. The LDS Church is not about to abandon or forsake revealed truth, ancient and modern, which declares that the effeminate shall not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9) or that inordinate affection brings the wrath of God (Col 3:5-6) or that man lying with man and woman lying with woman is an abomination (Lev. 18:22).

  • ktcjohn

    That IS a conspiracy theory, and you are phobic.

  • susanbsbi1

    I know this will hurt Romney

  • OnMormons

    As a mormon I would like to say that people are still children of God, whether they are gay or straight. These souls need our love and understanding not our judgment, There are no priesthood keys which gives us the rights to make judgments against another person for their views. We were each put upon the earth to learn from our experances, whatever they are. (Read the Churches, Articles of Faith No 11). Yes, before you ask, I am happly married man, to a lovley wife and have some lovley children, we were sealed or married in the London Temple. – Stephen, onmormons

  • CultEnthusiast

    Quotes from Missionaries serving in Germany 1930s – 1940s:

    Missionaries’ Positive Views of Hitler:

    “Elmer Stettler, the son of Swiss immigrants to Logan, Utah, who served a mission in Germany during the 1930s, summarized some of the positive views that missionaries had of Hitler.

    “He recalled: ‘When we came home [from our missions], we loved the German people. We didn’t see anything wrong with what they were doing. We liked Hitler. We would just eat up articles where some of his news people were showing how the pioneers were organized into groups. They were tying our LDS history into kicking the Germans out of their colonies in Africa. We used it for material to disseminate the gospel.’ . . .

    “Other LDS Americans were impressed by Hitler and his ability to speak and motivate people. Wendell C. Irvine wrote in an article in the [official Mormon Church magazine] ‘Improvement Era’ that despite all of Hitler’s weaknesses, ‘the greatest thing that could be said of him, however, might well be inscribed on his tombstone, ‘Adolf Hitler Orator.’“[. . .

    “Sanford Bingham, a missionary at the same time as my father, felt the same way. After listening to one of Hitler’s speeches after Germany took over Austria, Bingham concluded, ‘I’m afraid if I stayed here a few more years I would become completely Nazified myself.’ . . .

    “John M. Russon, who was also on a mission in Germany, recalled the positive press that the Church received during the Hitler regime. He explained, ‘So we missionaries didn’t have all that harsh a feeling toward Hitler except, of course, for the dictatorship, which was opposed to our basic principie of free agency.’ . . .

    “Roy Welker and his wife, Elizabeth, were especially persuaded by Hitler because he seemed to like the Church. Roy Welker recalled in an oral history interview, ‘My personal opinion was that Hitler was very much impressed with the LDS faith and Church and its practices.’ . . . He recalled that when he went to Germany in 1934 Hitler was just coming

  • CultEnthusiast

    Are Mormons Christian? Not According To Joseph Smith and Other Mormon Leaders

    Daniel H. Wells (Mormon Apostle)
    “The whole system of Christianity is a failure so far as stemming the tide of wickedness and corruption is concerned, or turning men from their evil ways to living lives of righteousness before God our Heavenly Father. I would rather preach the Gospel to a people who have not got any religion than I would to a people who have got a great deal of religion. You take the Catholic world. What impression can the truths of the Gospel make upon them as a people? Scarcely any impression at all.

    Why? Because they are satisfied with what they have got, which we know is an error, and which is not calculated to stem the tide of wickedness and corruption which floods the world. It never will convert the world to God or His Kingdom, or convey a knowledge of God unto the children of men, and it is life eternal to know Him, the living and true God. The Christianity of the period will never make the people acquainted with God in the world. It will never bring them to eternal life as spoken of in the Scriptures.

    It is an utter impossibility. In the first place they do not know anything about God, and in the second place, they apparently don’t want to know anything about Him. They have reared a superstructure in the earth which is false. It is and has been a tremendous imposture to the children of men. Some have come out of it, to a certain extent, seeing its incongruity, and yet they have floundered in the dark, not knowing what was right; not having that knowledge of God which is necessary to obtain eternal life, they have been tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, without being able to find the truth. Many who have thus been foundering are honest people; but the so-called system of Christianity is not only an error and a snare, but is a monstrous iniquity fastened upon the children of men throughout the earth. No wonder that people become i

  • ktcjohn

    The email you posted is not from “Church leaders” as you erroneously assert. It is from FAIR which is unaffiliated with the Church. But I find nothing wrong with a private organization wanting to inform fellow Mormons of the articles that are being written about them and their Church. Our responsive comments about the truthfulness or untruthfulness of assertions about our beliefs and practices will provide readers with a more reliable source of information. In other words, I know what I believe better than someone else not of my faith believes that I believe. “Drowning out the critics with numbers” is your spin. What you are really saying is that you prefer not to be contradicted with the truth.

  • LoyalReader

    I’m throwing the BS flag on your post. You stated : “… mormons have been instructed to make these comments by their leaders.”

    I went to the web page of Mormon Voices and found the following statement prominently displayed:

    “Mormon Voices is an independent organization that is supportive of, but not controlled by or affiliated with, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    If you going to make inflammatory accusations, you ought to at least do your homework.

  • fakedude2

    One can hope.

  • Catken1

    You may believe what you like. Your religion may choose to sanctify or not sanctify any particular marriage, at its discretion.
    But you are not entitled to use the civil law to punish those you deem “sinners”, or to enforce your religious dogma concerning what constitutes a marriage on the legal, civil institution of marriage. In return, no one will take your civil rights, including the right to a civil, legal marriage, from you because they find your particular beliefs or actions to be “sinful” according to their religion.
    Is that not fair?

  • TLUnrine1

    Just more damage control orchestrated by the Mormons in the wake of the Prop 8 Hate the Gay campaign, the current Maryland campaign to overturn the same-sex marriage laws.

    Romney and the Mormons – trying to appear gay-friendly. Like having a BBQ outside the ovens at Auschwitz with the Germans saying “come on in, the showers are warm.”

    Let us not forget that Romney and his Mormons have pushed for a Mormon approved Constitutional Amendment to overturn and outlaw same-sex marriages and civil unions in the entire United States.

    Mormonization of America. If this wasn’t a White Horse Prophecy election year, we wouldn’t be seeing gay-friendly Mormons out on parade.

    You will still be chased off of Temple Square if you are a same sex couple and you hold hands or kiss. Gay friendly, sure, with jack-booted security guards with trespass notices – sure inclusive and tolerant – not in the Mormon dictionary.

  • TLUnrine1

    Mormon Propaganda, learning from Goebbels.

  • TLUnrine1

    So Mormons treat the children of God by kicking them out of their families by excommunication and disfellowship, often times leading to suicide attempts.

    So family the Mormons have, us Americans would call that disfunctional.

  • TLUnrine1

    Standard Mormon reply – love the sinner hate the sin.

    Explains disfellowship of gays, excommunication of gays, which leads to many gay suicides.

    Some loving the sinner there.

    Hate to see what Mormon HATE really is – opps – Mountain Meadows, how stupid of me to forget.

  • TLUnrine1

    These marchers aren’t gay-friendly, it’s a Mormon election year, and this is damage control orchestrated by Mormons in Salt Lake and the Mormon Romney campaign.

    All Mormons, 100 percent of them, sustained their homophobe leaders and their anti-gay agenda; not one stood up to Boyd K Packer at the last general conference – the Supreme Leaders can do no wrong.

    That makes Mormons gullible and dangerous – signs of a cult. Just remember how dangerous Charles Manson was, Jim Jones, and David Koresh. Their flock slavishly follow the leader like Simon Says.

  • TLUnrine1

    Disclaimers – not an official publication, doesn’t speak for the church. Seems like no one, not even the prophet speaks officially for the Mormons, if you believe Mormons.

    The government uses plausible deniability all the time. Mormons use it also in their cult. That doesn’t mean all these websites aren’t orchestrated by Salt Lake leaders of the cult.

    The louder one cries “I didn’t fart” the stronger the smell is around them.

  • jsmith4

    There sure is some paranoia about Mormons here. I am an ex-Mormon with lots of criticisms of the church, but “Mormons are people too,” they are not Nazis or zombies.
    It surely makes sense for Mormons to participate in public forums where they are being described and defined.

  • joevans3

    Really? Your “answer” to that question is based on some non-canonical quotes from the 1950s?

    Read, listen or watch LDS leaders for yourself at Simple as that.

  • joevans3

    Oh brother. It’s 11 am on a Sunday morning. I’m sure there is a sacrament meeting somewhere you could be at instead of at your computer.

  • dhrogers1

    Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders did not say that Mormons are not Christian. They are saying that popular Christianity of today and Original Christianity are not the same thing and that Original Christianity has been restored.

    Reverand Jeffress said. “And I still maintain there are vast differences in theology between Mormons and Christians.”

    This seems to be a common view among many Christians and actually they are right to say that there are some major differences, although there are more similarities than differences. . However, there are also vast differences between current Christianity and Early Christianity.

    If Christianity means “historic orthodox mainstream Christianity” of today then I would agree that Mormonism is not historic Christianity; at least not in every doctrine. Although Mormons have much in common with other Christians Mormons also believe differently than historic Christians in some key areas. But the real questions to ask are 1) What is original Christianity? 2) Is mainstream Christianity of today the same as original Christianity? It turns out that Joseph Smith was right. Mormonism is a restoration of Original Christianity. It is not my intent to criticize Christians of today. However, with all the criticism of Mormonism it is important to notice that in many areas of belief Mormons are closer to original Christianity than are most Christians of today.

  • dhrogers1

    Mormons believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. Our first Article of Faith states: We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. However “Trinity’ is a word that is not found in the Bible. Nor are the definitions and wording formulations in the extra-Biblical creeds found in the Bible. In 325 AD a council of about 300 (out of 1800 serving) bishops gathered in Nicea at the request of the pagan Emperor Constantine and formulated a creed that tried to reconcile the Biblical statements that there three persons called “God” and yet there was “one” God. They then forced all Christians to accept their solution as “gospel”, with varying results. Theological debates and other councils continued to tweak the concept for centuries which produced additional creeds.

    Mormons are not supposed to be Christian because we have some doctrinal differences with other Christian groups of today. The foundation for the beliefs of these other groups is the creeds of the 4th. 5th, and 6th centuries and so on.

    For example; in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is a non-Biblical creed, we read that “there is but one God, a most holy spirit, without body, parts or passions,” thus denying the resurrected Christ, for if Christ is not risen and we do not believe him when he tells us that he has an immortal body, we can then have no hope of a resurrection (Phil 3:21.) Contrary to the creed Jesus taught: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and ones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39)

    From this passage we know that Jesus had his physical body after the resurrection. We also know that when Christ comes again, he will still have his physical body. (Zech. 14:4; 12:10; 13:6; John 20:24-28, Acts 1:9-11; Rev 1:7; 1 Cor. 15:3-8, 12-20, 35-42; D&C 93:33).

    It is claimed that Mormons are wrong because they believe in extra-Biblical revelation and scripture. Yet much of Christianity believ

  • dhrogers1

    The founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, once gave his valuable horse to a black man, so the man could buy his son out of slavery. The Church sent tons of food and clothing to the earthquake victims in Haiti, a predominantly black country. They have missionaries all over the world teaching people of all races and colors. This does’t sound racist to me.

    In 1844, Joseph Smith ran for president with a plan to free all slaves by 1850. He was murdered 4 months into his campaign.

    In Missouri, where the predominant attitude was pro-slavery, the LDS church underwent severe persecution. One of the underlying reasons was that Mormons supported freedom for black slaves.

    Note what the Book of Mormon teaches:

    2 Nephi 26:33
    33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

    Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) gave this teaching in priesthood session of General Conference:

    “Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.
    Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Chu

  • BillKilpatrick

    This is a legitimate article. There are Mormons who, for example, note that all forms of marriage – including civil marriages and marriages performed in churches and synagogues – are un-Mormon.

    The only kind of marriage that is sanctioned as “Mormon” is temple marriage, where the couple are sealed together for time and all eternity.

    To Mormons, everything else is a cheap knock-off. Why, then, should “gay marriage” be any different? Or, to put it another way, why should gay marriage be targeted above all others?

    These same Mormons would also point out that the Church’s stance on church/state religions, which is canonized scripture as section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church, specifically says:

    “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”

    Church sponsorship of one side of a political question seem to conflict with that idea of avoiding “religious influence with civil government.” As there are various churches that recognize gay marriage, and anti-gay marriage laws such as Prop 8 would affect the rights of gay Unitarians, gay Jews and other gay believers and skeptics across a variety of traditions, one can easily see a conflict between the recent embrace of Prop 8 and long-standing Mormon traditions.

    This is not a PR stunt, on the part of the Mormon Church. It’s the earnest view – albeit the minority of view – of actual Mormons.


    They’ll go back to being gay-hatin mormons once Romney is defeated.

    Just a front to make the mormons look “tolerant”.

  • LexiPMagnus

    You are wrong, sir. Most of the people who I walked with in the Capital Pride Parade with Mormons for Marriage Equality wore “Obama 2012” stickers as well. This has nothing to do with Mitt Romney.

  • LexiPMagnus

    UGHGHHGGHHHH! This frustrates me that ANYONE would see this as The Church’s way of “softening” it’s appeal with the LGBT community in order to get Mitt into the presidency. As I stated above, I walked with Mormons For Marriage in the Capital Pride Parade. Most of the people who walked with us are OBAMA supporters. Above that, I have been rediculed over and over and over again by members of the church for taking this stance. It’s been hell. This movement does not have the blessing of the LDS Church, believe me. If you don’t, visit my blog and see what people have to say about how I feel about this.

  • LexiPMagnus

    Man, we sure named our church wrong if we’re not Christians.


    Just a coincidence, huh?

  • joeyjr

    Oh please. To say that FAIR is not affiliated with the church is just down-right deceitful. But that’s okay, we’re all getting used to the word “deceit” when it comes to any claims by the LDS. Just tell the truth, please.

  • albertinamel

    As a practicing Mormon who is totally in favor of gay marriage and full marriage equality, I have to say that this article, and some similar to it in recent weeks, seems disingenuous to me. There isn’t some groundswell of pro-gay activism in the Mormon church. Those of us who favor gay marriage are reminded every week in sermons and lessons that we are in the vast minority. The recent LDS, pro-gay-marriage demonstration in DC netted a whopping 50 people in attendance, after all. (And believe me. There are a ton of Mormons living in the DC suburbs who could have turned out, if they had wanted to.)

    I wish I could say the opposite. However, my church has historically been on the wrong side of civil rights, be it the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, the women’s movement of the 70s, or the gay rights movement today. We’re batting 0 for 3, in my book. Most of my friends who feel similar to me have already left the faith, and those of us who remain never expect the Church to really change. Eventually, when the US finally adopts gay marriage, the Church will just hum along like it does in Canada, where gay marriage is legal but the Church itself is under no obligation to perform gay marriages.