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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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."

Change the World

Your Marriage Should Be Gayer, Says the New York Times

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," lists the many insights LGBTQ marriages can offer straight ones.

According to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times this week by Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage: a History," turns out the people convinced marriage equality — legal across the United States for five years now — would usher in the complete breakdown of civil society should be more worried about the health of their own marriages.

In the article, Coontz details the results of research that followed 756 "midlife" straight marriages, and 378 gay marriages, and found same-sex couples reporting the lowest levels of physiological distress — with male gay couples reporting the lowest. The reason for this, the author said, is pretty simple — misogyny. The idea that men and women should strive for parity in a relationship is still a fairly new idea, Coontz said, and traditional gender roles are still pervasive. Gay couples, meanwhile, are free from such presumptions, which often results in happier, healthier relationships.

The most interesting findings in the research relate to parenting. While gender norms tend to be even more emphasized among straight people once they have children, with the bulk of the childrearing falling to mothers, same-sex couples — once again freed from the stereotypes of the male/female divide — parent more equitably. As the author notes, "A 2015 survey found that almost half of dual-earner, same-sex couples shared laundry duties, compared with just under a third of different-sex couples. And a whopping 74 percent of same-sex couples shared routine child care, compared with only 38 percent of straight couples."

When it comes to time spent with children, men in straight marriages spent the least amount of time and the lowest proportion of "nonwork" time, with their children — while men in same-sex marriages spent just as much time with their children as women in a straight relationship. "The result?" Coontz writes, "Children living with same-sex parents experienced, on average, three and a half hours of parenting time per day, compared with two and a half for children living with a heterosexual couple."

Straight fathers devote the least amount of time — about 55 minutes a day — on their children, which includes things like physical needs, reading, playing, and homework. Gay mothers spent an additional 18 minutes each and straight mothers an additional 23 minutes. Gay fathers spent the most time with their children, the study found, an average of an additional 28 minutes a day.

Taken together, straight couples spend an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes on their children. Lesbian moms spend an additional 13 minutes, while gay men spend 33 more minutes than straight couples.

One factor, the author notes, that can help explain this difference is this: gay parents rarely end up with an unintended or unwanted child, whereas a full 45% percent of pregnancies in straight relationships in 2011 (the last year data is available) were unintended, and 18% were unwanted.

But right. Gay people shouldn't be parents.

Change the World

Uber Driver Accuses Gay Dads of Child Trafficking

An Uber driver in San Diego reportedly accused two gay dads of child trafficking because their child "didn't have a mother."

[An update on this story as of February 17, 2020: Uber Support has still yet to respond to James Moed and his multiple requests from further comment. The driver who falsely accused the gay dads of kidnaping their own child, in fact, continues to "drive around with a "Pro Diamond" status with a 4.93 rating," James said in a recent Tweet.]

On January 29 of this year, James Moed took an Uber with his husband, and their newborn son, to the Marriott Marina hotel in the San Diego area. As their newborn son cried in the backseat of the car, the family's driver offered this piece of helpful advice:

The baby just needs his mother.

Any queer dad has been through this scenario a million times — the dreaded "Where's the Mommy?" question. But even when the dads explained that their son had two fathers, not a mother, the driver "didn't back down," Moed said via Twitter.

Little did the couple realize just how perplexed the driver actually was. At 1:30am in the morning, the couple was greeted by a loud knock on their hotel door. Officers from the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department were on the other side, demanding to see the couple's identification — and their son's.


"It turns out the Uber driver who had taken us to the hotel had called the cops – accusing us of child trafficking? Endangerment?" Moed wrote on Twitter. Though the situation was quickly resolved, the couple was nonetheless — and understandably — "freaked out."

"What if we hadn't had his passport?" Moed wrote. "Where can my queer family travel safely?"

The couple took their complaints to Uber. In response — they were refunded $10. "Keep your $10," Moed wrote. "We want proof you keep your LGBTQ riders safe."

After Pink News requested further comment from Uber, the company gave the following canned response:

"As soon as we learned of this incident we launched an investigation. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate discrimination."

The dads, however, are keeping up the fights, demanding evidence of some sort of LGBTQ sensitivity training their drivers must undergo. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Campaign to Legalize Surrogacy in New York Heats Up with Competing Bills

Two competing bills — one backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and another by Senator Liz Krueger with stricter provisions — are aiming to legalize surrogacy in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is once again attempting to legalize commercial surrogacy in the state, which is still just one of three states in the country to forbid the practice.

"This antiquated law is repugnant to our values and we must repeal it once and for all and enact the nation's strongest protections for surrogates and parents choosing to take part in the surrogacy process," Governor Cuomo said in a statement in announcing a broader effort called Love Makes a Family. "This year we must pass gestational surrogacy and expedite the second parent adoption process to complete marriage and family equality."

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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