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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Change the World

Mormon Church Reverses Decision on Children of LGBTQ Parents

The Mormon Church's controversial policy labeling LGBTQ couples "apostates," and refusing to baptize their children, has been reversed

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.


Change the World

Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents Advances in Tennessee

Tennessee's anti-LGBTQ adoption bill still needs to be passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor before becoming law.

Just this past week, we received the good news that Michigan will no longer permit state welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBQT parents in adoption proceedings, bringing the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" exemption down to 9.

However, anti-LGBTQ advocates in two states, Tennessee and Arkansas, are both attempting to pass similar statewide "religious freedom" bills. The effort in Tennessee just received a major boost after passing the state's House of Representatives on Monday. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans.

Chris Sanders, the executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, put out a statement saying, "If this bill becomes law, same-sex couples, people of various religious beliefs, and people with no religious beliefs now face the prospect of being turned away from adoption agencies that they helped fund because they are labeled morally or religiously objectionable, which leaves children and youth with longer wait times for permanent homes."

Will be sure to keep readers posted as the story unfolds in both Tennessee and Arkansas.


Change the World

Michigan Will No Longer Permit Discrimination Against LGBTQ Adoptive Parents

Michigan just rescinded its "religious freedom" law that allowed child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

According to LGBTQ Nation, Michigan will no longer allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples. The decision is thanks in part to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state's goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel, who is raising two kids with her wife, Alanna Maguire, is the first LGBTQ person to ever be elected statewide in Michigan.

As LGBTQ Nation reports, LGBTQ advocates widely applauded the decision:

"Our children need every family that is willing and able to provide them with a loving home," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, in a press release. "When agencies choose to accept taxpayer dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first."

"Attorney General Nessel makes clear Michigan's commitment to uphold existing nondiscrimination protections," said Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality Council, in a statement. "Furthermore, Nessel's statement demonstrates that she understands that while religious freedom is a core American value, religious beliefs should never be used as an excuse to harm others, or in this case, to reduce the number of loving homes available to children in the Michigan child welfare system."

Michigan's decision brings the total number of states with so-called "religious freedom" laws that permit discrimination against LGBTQ would-be parents down to nine: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. Two other states, Arkansas and Tennessee, are attempting to pass "religious freedom" bills this year:

Read more here.

Change the World

Three Eagles, Two Male one Female, Form Nontraditional Family

Three bald eagles in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together

According to the Advocate, three bald eagles — two male and one female — are sharing a nest and incubating eggs together.

"Families come in all shapes and sizes, and that's true for wildlife too!" wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on Facebook. "Meet Valor I, Valor II and Starr, a breeding trio of bald eagles that live along the Mississippi River in Illinois. For several years, fans from all over the world have been watching this nontraditional family through a webcam as the eagles deal with the trials and tribulations of parenting."

The thruple came to be in unique way. "The nest was originally inhabited by Valor I and another female eagle named Hope," wrote the Advocate. "Initially, Valor I had poor parenting skills — he didn't hunt or guard the nest while Hope was away. Valor II entered the nest in 2013 to pick up the slack — and taught Valor I some parenting skills in the process. Hope left the nest in March 2017 after she was injured by other birds. But instead of going off to find new mates, the male eagles decided to stick together until Starr joined their nest in September 2017."

Though rare, this isn't the first time that a trio of eagles have come to share nests in this way. According to USA Today, other trruples were have been spotted in Alaska in 1977, in Minnesota in 1983 and in California in 1992.

Check out this family below!


Trio Eagle Cam Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge Live Stream www.youtube.com

Gay Dad Life

In the U.K.? Join These Dads at Events Supporting LGBTQ Parents!

The dads behind the blog TwoDads.U.K are ramping up their support of other LGBTQ parents. Check out these events they're a part of!

What a couple of years it's been for us! When our daughter Talulah was born via UK surrogacy back in October 2016, we decided to take to Instagram and Facebook to document the parental highs and lows. Little did we expect for it to be where it is now. We always had the ambition to help other intended fathers understand more about surrogacy, and we also had the added driver to do our best to influence others – help open some of the closed minds with regards to same-sex parenting.

Here we are now, pregnant again with our son which we revealed Live on Facebook! We're due in August, we're now writing several blogs, social media influencers and launching a new business focusing on our main mission to support others and being advocates for UK surrogacy. It's no wonder we're shattered!

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Change the World

These Guys Are Proof: Bisexual Dads Exist!

Far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "B" category than any other. Here are three of their inspiring stories.

A couple months ago, Gays With Kids received the following message via one of our social media channels:

"Hey guys, love what you do. But where are your stories about bi men who are dads? Do they not exist? I get the sense from your page that most queer dads identify as gay. I identify as bi (or pansexual) and want to become a dad one day, but just never see my story represented. Are they just not out there?"We can say with resounding certainly that YES bisexual dads absolutely exist. In fact, of all the letters in our acronym, far more LGBTQ parents fall into the "b" category than any other.

But our reader is certainly right in one respect--we don't hear the stories of bisexual/pansexual dads told nearly often enough. While we occasionally find stories to tell about bi dads, like this great one from earlier this year from a dad who just came out, we otherwise aren't often finding stories of bi dads nearly as easy as we do gay dads. We're sure this is due to any number of reasons--societal pressure to stay closeted from both the straight and LGBTQ communities along with erasure of bisexuality both come to mind.

But it's also because we haven't done the best job reaching out specifically to the bi dad community! We hope to start changing that, starting by bringing you the stories of three bid dads in our community.

(Are you a bi dad? Click here so we can help tell your story and increase exposure for the bi dad community, or drop us a line at dads@gayswithkids.com!)

James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

James Shoemaker, who is 65-years-old and lives in Alton, Illinois, says he's known he was bisexual since the age of five. Still he lived what he called a "happily socially heterosexual" life throughout his adolescence, until he had his first same-sex experience in college at the age of 18-years-old.

In his 20s, he began his first same-sex relationship with a man, which lasted about five years. But soon the conversation turned towards children. James wanted his own biological children, something that would have been difficult, particularly at the time, to achieve. He and his boyfriends split, and soon after James met the woman who would become his wife. Since he had previously been in a relationship with a man, and his friends and family were aware of his sexuality, there was no hiding his bisexuality from his wife. There was no hiding my bisexuality from her

"We were both in our 30's, and both wanted kids," James said. "Wo were both kind of desperate to find a partner and she expressed that."

He and his wife proceeded to have three daughters together and lived what he called a fairly "conventional" life. "There was so much societal support [for raising a family] within conventional marriage," he said. "This was new to me, since I came out at age 17, and was used to being "different".

Being in a relationship with a woman, James said, alienated him from much of the LGBTQ activism that began to take hold in the 1980s and 1990s. "I felt I could not act as a representative for gay rights while married to a woman and raising kids with her," he said.

When his youngest daughter turned 18, he and his wife split and, and James began, once again, to date other men. Eventually, he met Paul Mutphy, who he has been dating for four years. Since reentering the world dating another man, he's had to confront, at times, people's misconceptions about his bisexuality. "It's not just gay guys looking for more social acceptance," James said, noting that "Bi rights" has not really caught the public's attention in the same way as "gay rights".

Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington


Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

Though people often conflate sexual orientation and gender identity, Maxwell stressed that he sees his identity as trans and bisexual as perfectly natural. "I see them interacting in a way of fluidity," he said. "Not straight but not gay. Just a feeling of love."

Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

Through it all, though, Maxwell says becoming a father has been the biggest blessing in his life. "Being able to carry my baby and bond through those nine months was amazing," he said. "I'm breastfeeding, which is hard as I'm trans, and so I'm self conscious of my large breasts now but it's such a bonding experience that it doesn't matter when I see the look of love and the comfort he gets from it."

For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

Change the World

Mayor Pete Hopes His (Future) Kids Are "Puzzled" That Coming Out Was Ever Newsworthy

Mayor Pete and husband Chasten don't have any kids yet, but have talked openly and often about their hopes to be dads one day

Pete Buttigieg, who is making waves in the political world by competing to be the first openly gay and (at 37 years old) first Millennial President of the United States, currently doesn't have any children with husband Chasten. But it's clear from his public comments and writings that he and Chasten hope to become dads one day.

And when that day comes, Buttigieg says he hopes his kids will find it puzzling that coming out as gay was ever a newsworthy event. Back in 2015, well before he began his campaign for president, Buttigieg wrote an essay in the South Bend Tribune that said the following:

"Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love."

In the meantime, Pete and Chasten are kept plenty busy with their two fur babies, Truman and Buddy.


Fatherhood, the gay way

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