Rescinding Mormon Gay Policy Without Apology is Bad Leadership

April 4, 2019 leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walked back much of the November 5, 2015 policy that called for excommunication of same-sex married couples and the exclusion of their children from the saving ordinance of baptism and full inclusion in the church. D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Quorum of the Twelve, claimed the policy was meant to be “loving” and to help avoid situations where children were taught differing messages at home and at church., Following the policy rollout, the current church president, then apostle Russell M. Nelson, declared the policy to be direct revelation from God.

In the time since the policy was released, youth suicides in Utah have reached an all-time high that some residents believe is directly related to this policy, and many, many members have resigned in protest over what appeared to be a deliberate move to punish parents through their children, marking these families as different from others in the church. In particular, to those LGBTQ Mormons who had tried desperately to follow church counsel in previous years, to enter into mixed-orientation marriages that produced children but ultimately ended in divorce, the policy seemed designed to further hurt those who were trying to build healthy relationships based on their true sexuality and gender identity. It also caused enormous collateral damage that could be expounded on in depth if we had time to tell individual stories.

We are all pleased that this policy has been changed. We are also pleased that there are many allies working from within the church who are trying to explain to church leaders why more needs to be done. We need to help reduce youth and adult suicides in Utah. We need to be more inclusive and Christlike in our teachings and culture. We need to think of heaven and God more inclusively, and to show this in our iconography, our temples, and our songs and stories.

We hope that church leaders will start acting more inclusively with regard to transgender, intersex, non-binary, and asexual individuals. But we must call out the rescinding of this policy out as the hypocrisy that it is. To say only three and a half years ago that President Nelson and the other church leaders were inspired by God to institute this policy, and now to take it away without a hint of admission that it was wrong, is bad doctrine and bad policy. To rescind this policy without acknowledging that it caused terrible harm and hopelessness, to point the finger at God rather than at themselves as the people who made this decision and got this wrong, is poor leadership.

We call on the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to admit past mistakes and to stop hiding behind the idea that God wanted things done this way. We call on members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to look to their own conscience and stop following church policies that are harmful. We know that doing so often leads to exclusion, social discrimination, and possible excommunication. But if Mormons want to be thought of as Christians within the full community of the body of Christ, we must all do this.

Mette Ivie Harrison

Sam Harrison

Joanna J. Smith

Chloe Patton

Morgen Nadine

Joanna Brooks

Erin Olds

Chris Wei

Birgitta Mattson

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Summer Spence

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Peter Brownstein

Ellie Brownstein

Matthew Peterson

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Michael Austin

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Lara Machin Canen

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Judith Dushku

Jill Templeton

Emily Davis Harris

Monica Peterson

Josh Weed

Brad Kramer

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Carolyn Homer

Suzy Benson Gillies

Crystal Escobar

Mary Harrison

Keli Byers Money

Wagner R. Ferreira

Julie Hawkins Smith

Bill Shunn

Ana Leyendo

Amy Benson Hirano

Richard Haroldsen

Judi Judkins

Chelan Clason

Shelli Jax Gustafson

Kimberly Kendell Petersen

Johanna Kivistö

Jonna Virkamäki

Jenni Virkamäki

Sirpa Leppänen

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Leslie R. Williams

Staci Fox Gould

Martha Greenlee

Mandy Lyons

Daniel Webb

Written by

Author of The Bishop’s Wife mystery series, The Mormon Sabbatical Podcast, Princeton PhD, fiction editor at Exponent II, autist, she/her

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