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 meeting indefinitely.

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 Affirmation's meeting.