A group of gay Mormons kept a historic
meeting with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in
Salt Lake City, Utah this morning. The meeting, however, was not
what they had planned because LDS officials who had agreed to the
meeting in February had already backed out.
The group, Affirmation: Gay &
Lesbian Mormons, had hoped to discuss issues of homosexuality with
church leaders. Instead they spoke with reporters.
At the news conference, Affirmation
officials released to the public what they had hoped to have
discussed with the LDS – a request for an affirming statement by
the LDS on homosexuality at their next general conference, to have a
prominent female leader tell mothers a child's homosexuality is not
their fault and does not require curing, a request for a meeting with
President Monson, extend an invitation for Monson to speak at the
next Affirmation conference, and the possibility of jointly
developing gay & lesbian training materials for LDS clergy.
“Although the [LDS] church has issued
a statement that being gay is not a sin in and of itself, this
message has not been widely distributed nor thoroughly absorbed by the
members. The issue is complicated by the fact that many church
members assume that being gay and being sexual – or even
promiscuous – are synonymous,” Affirmation Executive Director
Olin Thomas said.
“...families with LGBT people have
much to teach and share,” said Steve Ralls, Director of
Communications for the pro-family group Parents, Families and Friends
of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). “Affirmation has undertaken the
heroic task of challenging the church to live up to the principle of
'love thy neighbor as thyself', and church leaders should meet with
them and take steps towards makings everyone feel welcome.”
Affirmation officials had asked for and
been denied a meeting by the church for 31 years. This year, however,
after new president Thomas S. Monson replaced Gordon B. Hinkley, the
13-million member church agreed. But, on July 23rd, less
than twenty days before the meeting, LDS officials postponed the
Hopes that Monson's succession to the
Mormon presidency was the opening Affirmation had been praying for
further dissolved when the church took the unorthodox step of
supporting California's Proposition 8, which would amend the
California Constitution to ban gay marriage.
“We ask that you do all you can to
support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your
means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally
defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are
required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage,” the
church said in a statement signed on by Monson.
Such a stance runs contrary to
Hinkley's long-standing position of remaining neutral in politics.
“Unlike the religious right, the Mormon church does not have a
political agenda,” Hinkley told Mike Wallace in a rare 1996
interview. “We urge our people to exercise their franchise as
citizens of this nation, but we do not tell them how to vote and we
don't tell the government how it should be run.”
Prominent Mormons include possible John
McCain running mate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and
Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.
LDS officials had no comment on