In November 2015, the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) announced a new policy decision that shocked many in their community: not only would same-sex married couples be considered "apostates," but even their chilren would be barred from receiving church blessing and baptisms.
The move was immediately met with backlash. Some allies resigned from the church in protest. Others stood by the church's decision, creating chasms within families. According to the Salt Lake Tribute, some even committed suicide.
Yesterday, the church did an about face: just three and a half years after first announcing its policy, children of LGBTQ parents can now be baptized and same-sex couples are no longer "apostates." (Though "homosexual acts" are still very much a sin.)
The move was announced by Fallin Oaks, a "counselor" to the church's President, Russell M. Nelson. He said in part:
"Previously, our handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy. While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way."
Additionally, the statement said: "Effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval. If the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make."
The reaction has been widely applauded by LGBTQ advocates and allies:
"We celebrate with the courageous members within the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saint who shared their stories and lives," Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah said in a statement. "You were heard, and today marks a positive step in teaching our young people we all have value."
But, he cautioned, there is still much work to do to create a welcoming space for LGBTQ people, and parents, within the Mormon Church: "We have work yet to do in order to ensure young LGBTQ people and the children of LGBTQ people understand their tremendous value, and this is an important part of that journey."
The church's move follows other welcome news in the Beehive State: earlier this week, the states' Republican Governor Gary Herbert signed a hate crimes bill inclusive of LGBTQ people.