Church statement on April 4, 2019, provides breathing space for families, but leaves many still wondering what their future in the Church can be.
In November 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced policy that declared same-sex marriage apostasy and rendered children in primary custody of any same-sex couple ineligible to receive the blessings or ordinances offered in the church to all other children.
Affirmation has been a firsthand witness to the damage caused to families within and beyond membership in the church affected by this policy over the past three and a half years. Acknowledged in this witness are the same-sex couples who have been actively sought out, brought before church disciplinary councils, and excommunicated on charges of apostasy; divorced mixed orientation couples involved in intense custody battles fueled by a straight spouse’s desire for children to be members of the church; the stigmatizing of children of same-sex couples as different from their peers in their church participation; and the fracturing of families who felt forced to choose between love and support of their LGB loved ones and their obedience to their church leaders.
Today the church has announced a significant reversal in the November 2015 policy. Hailing this as “very positive policies announced this morning which should help affected families,” the church tacitly recognized that negative impact not only on LGBTQ members themselves, but on their straight family members as well.
Affirmation applauds the immediate dismissal of the restrictions on children of same-sex couples so that they may now be found equal in the eyes of the church, and the removal of default marking as apostates upon married same-sex couples. We also are grateful that families in the church with LGB children or siblings are relieved from the oppressive tone cast upon them by previous policies. Affirmation validates individuals and families within the church and provides space to celebrate this reversal.
The fact that legally married same-sex couples are still considered in serious transgression within the church still leaves lesbian and gay members of the church facing incredibly painful choices. As one mother of a gay son in Affirmation recently put it: “It’s impossible for my son to see any sort of a future for himself in the Church. He doesn’t know where he fits in God’s plan.”.
Affirmation also recognizes the continuing unresolved and hurtful issues surrounding transgender church members. There are many who still experience anxiety, alienation and remain uncertain regarding their future within the church.
Affirmation acknowledges the steps today as positive, but recognizes there is still much work to be done to make the chapels of the church and the homes of families within the church safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ persons.
Affirmation remains committed to provide safe spaces of unconditional acceptance for all LGBTQ Mormons and former Mormons, and will continue to work towards the time when every individual who chooses to worship God may do so with full acceptance, fellowship, equality, and love.