Change the World

Gay Dads Respond to the Mormon Church's Policy Reversal

We asked gay dads with experience in the Mormon Church what they made of the religion's recent about face

Jared Lynton

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 children 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.

Last week, however, 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.)

We caught up with several gay dads in our community with experience with the Mormon religion to get their perspective on the change.



"I'm grateful this policy doesn't have to be a factor in my kids' life"

"In 2015 I posted this photo to my FB in response to a policy that kept children of gay parents from being baptized into the LDS church, and labeled gay people as apostates. My kids attend church with their mom, and it hurt that the church I was raised in would do something so hateful. The huge response from that one post led me to start this IG account.

Today the church has reversed that policy. I am glad that an impactful organization has made such a move towards more inclusion and acceptance. I am also grateful now that this policy doesn't have to be a factor in my own kids' involvement with the church.

Since 2015 my views have changed, and that's ok. I'm human, and I'm allowed to change. We should also allow an organization run by humans the same leeway to make mistakes and change their views. This doesn't take away the pain that I and many families have felt over the past few years because of this policy. An apology from the church would be appropriate, but I don't expect one or need one. I've moved past allowing a church to make decisions for my family.

This policy made me take a harder look at baptism and how it's used to shape a child and determine their life course. It's definitely a decision that should be made when one fully knows what it means to align oneself with any particular church. When my kids are able to understand the dynamics of this policy, I hope they learn that they alone get to decide to have a relationship with God or not. Spirituality is a personal decision and should never be left in the hands of indecisive church leaders, especially when those humans still haven't fully embraced all the goodness in the LGBT community.🌈

What can we all do now? We can reach out and support those who have been affected by this policy. We can work to heal our culture and find more common ground rather than dwelling on our differences.

No matter what, I love my kids, and they love me regardless of who I love. Nothing can stop us from living life to the fullest and having our adventures together as a family. ♥️"

- Dad Devon, @dadsnotdaddies

"It's a minor step forward..."

"The church's reversal of its LGBT policy is a minor step forward. However, there is a long way to go before praise is due for its treatment of LGBT people. The church still classifies same-sex marriage and LGBT "behaviors" as "serious transgressions" and many cite these views toward LGBT people as the reason for Utah's increasing suicide rate.

With that said, the church has plenty of good members - our own families among them. In our marriage and in adopting our daughter, we have felt nothing but love from our Mormon family members. We support them as they support us and hope that one day the church, as a whole, will finally recognize and embrace its LGBT members for who they are."

- Dads Jason and Brian, @dadsbydesign

"Love doesn't lie and always prevails"

"I have to answer this first by saying that my departure from the LDS organization was primarily because of the lack of belief in the doctrines and lack of edification. I found myself more unhappy attending the church than enlightened and uplifted.

Having said that, it was no surprise when the church originally announced that gays and their children were apostates and such children weren't allowed to be baptized into the organization unless they essentially reject the parent(s) that raised them. So when the church reversed their policy and said that children are no longer apostates, I can honestly say it had no emotional affect on me. Even if the LDS organization never had policy changes, the only involvement I would want for my children to have, is a respect for other people's beliefs and lives. That is one of the truest measures of love in the world.

I have a hard time seeing why any child of a gay parent or person (in general) would want to affiliate with any organization that teaches the lack of worth for being your best and honest self; or would want to affiliate with an organization that they don't believe the claims/teachings. The purpose of life is to learn how to love yourself. So, if the only way for a person to gain that sort of experience in this life is to join a religion, that is where they belong. Regardless, love doesn't lie and always prevails."

- Dad Jared, @jleolyn

"Too many people still see faith and LGBTQ identity as incompatible"

"The policy was a reminder that too many people still see faith and LGBTQ identity as inherently incompatible. But as one who has deep familiarity with both "sides" of this, I've come to stop seeing "sides." There should not be a division. Being gay is a gift that enhances my spirituality. I'm grateful for the step forward that undoing this policy represents as I believe any policy or tenet that disregards the inherent compatibility of one's faith and one's LGBTQ identity will eventually fade away. People grow. Their understandings change. And God really is a God of love. So I'm hopeful.

If you feel neglected or rejected by any faith community, your hurt deserves to be validated. You may need distance to protect yourself. But also know that change can come. Continue to see the humanity in the people of any organization, even if it is one that hasn't yet figured out a place for you. Radiate love, and love will find a way to influence change. It may be slow and frustrating. But you have worth as a child of God, and your identity and unique gifts matter in the community of faith."

- Dad Travis, @robertsmanta

"Some took their own lives. They are the collateral damage of the Church's error" 

"On November 5, 2015, the ground shook beneath the feet of queer Mormons, myself included. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had openly created an exclusionary policy that abruptly castigated LGB Mormons as apostate and further classified our love as "counterfeit." Apostasy, by Mormon definition required excommunication from the Church.

The Church further instructed that children of LGB parents would no longer be considered for blessings, would be prohibited from baptism, sacramental ordinances and other religious rites until they had turned 18 years old, disavowed us as their same-sex parent, and—as a last requirement: the child must move out of their queer parent's home.

The pain of that Policy was extensive and immediate. As a contributing factor, some within our LGBT Mormon community took their lives by suicide as a result. I personally knew some of these beautiful, now deceased people. They are the collateral damage of the Church's error.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now rescinded this heinous policy. Some have praised the move as evidence of the Mormon Church's progressive and changing trajectory. I disagree. The Church intentionally set a fire—and now they want praise for extinguishing it. They must own the results of their actions.

Reversing the Policy is a good thing, it was the necessary thing to do; but doing the right thing from the very beginning would have saved lives from being lost, families from unnecessary fracture, and insulated some marriages from the sting of divorce.

Today our best option is to move forward with the same message that buoyed us through the last 3.5 years. To the LGBT community: you aren't broken, you aren't alone, and you are safe with those who love you. You were created by divine design and we need you."

- Dad Kyle, @theRankAndKyle

(Kyle Ashworth is a gay man and father of four children from a previous heterosexual marriage. He is a queer community speaker and host of the Latter Gay Stories Podcast, the longest running Mormon LGBT themed broadcast resource. Visit their website, and check them out on Facebook and Instagram.)

"LGBT individuals should be loved and celebrated as they are..."

"Although we personally stopped attending the LDS church long ago, we always maintained a respect and appreciation for the positive experiences we had as kids growing up in the Mormon community (leaving the gay/identity conflict aside). Most of our family and childhood friends are active, believing Mormons, and are very good people. As gay fathers living in Utah, we always wondered if we could someday support our kids, if they chose to attend church with cousins, aunts, grandparents....and how that dynamic could play out if it was something they wanted to do as they got older.

The exclusion policy of 2015 changed all of that.

The unprecedented pain and damage to us, our local LGBT community, but also to many believing Mormons, including our families, was immediate and widespread. It was the final straw that motivated us and many of our close friends to remove our records formally from the church because the message was clear that we and our children had no place among them. We know several LGBT Mormon youth and young adults, who took their own lives after the policy was announced because they lost all hope. That is NOT ok and can never be made right.

Although the recent news of the policy reversal is a step in the right direction (anything that furthers inclusion and acceptance is a GOOD thing), the hostile doctrine that will continue to be preached to LGBT youth within the pews of the church is damaging. LGBT individuals should be loved and celebrated as they are, and never told they are "challenged with same-sex attraction," nor should they resign themselves to a life of celibacy. Even so, it is our hope that this policy reversal will help a new generation of LGBT kids who choose to stay, find a little more peace, than the generation lost by the exclusion policy."

- Dads Spencer and Dustin, @thehomedepotboys

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In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

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In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals.

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In 2002, Ed Smart's daughter Elizabeth was abducted at knife point by a married couple from her bedroom in Salt Lake City, Utah. She suffered physical and sexual abuse at the couple's hands, for nine months, until she was finally rescued by police. During the ordeal, papers — including the Salt Lake Tribute — speculated about Ed Smart's sexual orientation based on some fabricated information sold to the paper by tabloids like the National Enquirer. (The Enquirer retracted the story, and the reporters at the Tribute were ultimately fired.)

"I think that in April I started feeling like I needed to prepare something," Smart told the Tribute. "Because during Elizabeth's ordeal, there were things said, and it wasn't what I wanted to say, and I was not going to allow that to happen again."

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