Have you noticed something different about the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) recently?
In 1995, the Mormon Church made its marriage position official by issuing a proclamation carrying the weight of scripture that declared marriage between a man and a woman the bedrock of society.
In June, 2008, same-sex marriage was made legal in California due to a ruling by the Supreme Court of California based on an equal protection argument. The LDS immediately swung into action with their formidable organizing skills and networks, sending as many as 25,000 canvassers per weekend to go door to door in California.
In November, 2008, California’s Proposition 8 passed by 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent, and same-sex marriage was once more eliminated. That yes vote was largely propelled by the Mormon Church, whose members had contributed some $22 million in to this vicious campaign.
The Mormons have been credited with almost single-handedly getting Prop. 8 passed, despite a well-funded opposition with backing from Hollywood.
Where Were All The Mormons?
Jump forward to March, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Prop. 8. Huge numbers of faith-based activists, both for and against, were gathered for days in front of the Court, but the Mormons had no official presence.
What has happened within the Mormon Church to bring about this change?
First, a little background:
Mother Jones notes that it was Fred Karger, an LGBT activist, who first noticed how much Mormon money was being contributed to the Prop. 8 campaign and who subsequently exposed the LDS church’s major push behind Prop. 8.
Once he knew what to look for, Karger found Mormons everywhere in the Prop 8 campaign: as actors in the TV ads, as volunteers, organizers, and political consultants. Just as intriguing, he would discover eventually, the group that had done the lion’s share of the work to get Prop 8 on the ballot to begin with, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), also had deep ties to the Mormon Church—and the church itself had been engaged in a campaign to block gay marriage across the nation for more than a decade. What he was looking at, he realized, was a stealth campaign much like the ones he’d run during his long career as a Republican political operative.
Fred Karger eventually got sick of the homophobic stories that he kept reading, so he decided to launch his website, Californians Against Hate, which was entirely dedicated to publicizing the names of those Prop. 8 donors.
Mormon Church’s Hateful Homophobia Exposed
With the Mormon Church’s role in promoting hatred and homophobia disclosed, many LGBT activists took Karger’s information and publicized it as widely as possible.
That was the beginning of a huge shift for the Mormon Church: many Mormons publicly announced that they were leaving the church, and others took part in protests. The LDS apparently paid attention.
As a result, a new web site, MormonsAndGays.org, has been launched to encourage understanding and dialogue. Titled, “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” the site embraces the notion that gays and lesbians who are church members should stay, rather than exit the faith.
From the website:
The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
You Can Be Gay, But You Can’t Act On It
So it seems that the Mormon Church still defines homosexuality as a sin, if you act on it.
This reminds me of the ruling by bishops of the Church of England in 2011, stating that homosexual clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops, as long as they are celibate. Thankfully, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church, has announced that he supports the LGBT cause.
Change comes slowly, in baby steps, but we can hope that both the Mormon Church and the Church of England are at least moving forward in the right direction.
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