We’re Not There Yet, but Let the Trend Be Our Friend Today
by Jamison Manwaring
Submitted to Affirmation following The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s reversal of their November 2015 policy changes that prohibited children of LGBTQ parents from being blessed and baptized and characterized members of the church entering into same-sex marriages as apostates. These changes became known within the LGBTQ Mormon community as the “exclusion policy,” “policy of exclusion,” or “PoX.” The day after the reversal of this policy was announced, Nathan Kitchen, President of Affirmation, invited anyone willing to and share their authentic feelings and all their stories of grief, anger, relief, sadness, happiness, confusion, whatever they may be that surround the rescinding this policy. “As President of Affirmation, I want to be sure Affirmation does not hide you or your stories as we move forward,” wrote Kitchen in his invitation. If you have reactions or a story to share about the reversal of the exclusion policy, please send to [email protected]. You can also read other stories and reactions to the reversal of the exclusion policy.
Transcript: I just heard the news from my family that church leadership for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is changing the policy regarding LGBT members. A few years ago they came out with a policy that said if an LGBT member who is married has children, their children cannot be baptized in the church or blessed in the church until that child became 18 and essentially disavowed their parents. It also stated that if you’re an LGBT member and you get married that you would be, essentially, up for excommunication and considered an apostate. Today, 3 1/2 years later, they changed that and they no longer have those restrictions on LGBT members. At the time they said it was a revelation from God. Some believed it was more a temporary policy. Now they’re saying that this policy is no longer in place.
For me, as a member my whole life whose family came across from Europe to the United States with the Mormon pioneers, who came over the Mormon Trail to the western United States, this is a great step in the right direction. I’m glad this is happening and that the leaders were open-minded in saying they weren’t going to be anchored to an idea they came out with only a few years ago that obviously was not working. I’m glad that they’re open to that.
After college, when I joined Goldman Sachs, I was not out as a gay person. When I joined the company, I realized what it meant to be at an inclusive and supportive organization. One of the reasons I came out was because I felt so comfortable at Goldman Sachs. Not only were they open to people being gay, but they also encouraged you to come out. They believed that instead of trying to live a double life or trying to not give a complete picture of yourself at work, they’d rather see who you are and that you’d be a more productive person at the workplace if you were fully out and open. I realized how powerful it is to be able to be out and open and comfortable in an organization and to feel that support.
The announcement on April 4th, 2019, is certainly not an announcement of support for LGBT people or an announcement that you should come out and feel welcome being gay at church. It isn’t. The church still does not believe you can be in a same-sex relationship and be at one with church policy. Essentially, at one with God; that it just does not work and is not possible. They’re not supportive. But they’ve gone from a position of having a specific policy against gay marriage and children that come from gay marriage to one where they are more neutral now, or the way they were a few years ago before this policy came into effect.
It’s a positive step, and that’s the way I look at it. There will be a lot of commentaries out there, and I wanted to put my commentary out there too that it’s a positive step in the right direction. It isn’t quite like working at Goldman Sachs where they really affirm LGBT folks and want you to be out and open and completely support you. It’s not that. I would love in my lifetime for the church of my family and my upbringing to be in that position. We’re not there yet, but let the trend be our friend today. Let’s be happy with the progress, the open-mindedness, and the enlightenment (in my opinion), that’s happened. We will see what the future brings.