Guest Editorial: Reactions to the LDS Church position on gay marriage
As Pride celebrations surged across the United States last weekend following Friday’s historic SCOTUS ruling that legalized gay marriage, other voices quickly emerged to rehash the moral imperatives for marriage between a man and a woman. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was among those voices, maintaining its position stated in LDS President Hinckley’s 1995 Proclamation to the World. Related media warned of the disintegration of family and held that the "lie of same-sex marriage will be devastating to untold numbers of children whose inherent right to a mother and a father has now been stripped by the United States Supreme Court."
Research shows that the impact of gay rights on children is quite the opposite. LGBT-identifying youth, for example, are up to eight times more likely to become homeless or suicidal if their parents negatively or harshly respond to their sexual orientation. There are roughly 5,000 homeless youth in Utah, 40 percent of whom are LGBT and from religiously and socially conservative families. These youth, like so many across the country, experience damaging isolation and emotional trauma when their family and community sever ties with them.
If Mormon church members want to see the real impact of gay marriage, they need look no further than their own backyard.
Growing up as a Mormon child and teenager, I experienced the religion’s emphasis on kindness, compassion, community, and service to others as a lynchpin of its culture and belief system. These core values, however, are untenable when the Church continues to promote a doctrine hostile to already vulnerable youth. If, as a practicing Mormon, your child came out, would you deny them the dignity of self-acceptance and the freedom to love who they love, and risk instead driving them toward depression, isolation, or worse?
The Mormon Church should be all too familiar with the impact of intolerance. Early LDS leaders and its founding prophet were victims of hate crimes by merciless mobs. Yet ultimately, our nation has accepted the Mormon religion and the rights of its members to express and live by their own beliefs. Taken in this light, the LDS Church should reconsider its position on gay marriage and have the courage to deeply examine the conflict it creates among many of its core values.
Let us hope that — this time — Mormon Church leaders will keep pace with our nation’s civil rights movement, unlike its untimely 1978 revelation that allowed black men to hold the priesthood. Let us hope that this time, they will quickly and fully embrace those people who ultimately want to live and express love.
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