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

Show Comments ()
Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

What Gay Dads Wish for Their Daughters on International Women's Day

We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face

Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate and honor the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Much like LGBTQ+ equality, gender equality has come leaps and bounds over the past 100 years, but a perfect egalitarian society still does not exist. We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face. Here's what they had to say:

Keep reading... Show less
Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

Keep reading... Show less
Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse