Although they stopped short of condoning gay relationships, LDS leaders appear to have conceded that their hardline approach to LGBTQ rights wasn’t working. 

In a stunning move, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church) has announced it will support new federal legislation to protect same-sex marriage.

Church officials said they would back the Respect for Marriage Act, which is currently being considered in Congress. The bill would help safeguard same sex unions at the national level, should the Supreme Court overturn the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

This surprise announcement marks the latest step toward LGBTQ+ acceptance by the LDS movement, and many cheered the news.

However, not everyone is buying it. Critics cite certain other policies that paint the Mormon Church’s view toward gay people in a less… favorable light.

Others claim LDS leadership has ulterior motives in supporting this legislation.

So what are we to make of this development?

Decades of Demonization

This about-face is remarkable for a number of reasons, but especially considering the Mormon Church’s not-so-ancient-history of mistreatment of its LGBTQ members – particularly gay youth.

As recently as 2019, the official LDS doctrine labeled gay couples as “apostates” and discriminated against them in numerous ways, according to sources within the Church. Among these claims:

  • Any same-sex sexual relations could result in disfellowship or excommunication.
  • Gay members had a red flag placed on their records that was visible to any local clergy leader – meaning they were “known” even if moving to a new town or a new church. This red flag was often used as a reason to ban such members from interacting with children or teens, essentially treating gay churchgoers as though they were pedophiles.
  • Children with gay parents were banned from being baptized until the age of 18, at which point they had to condemn homosexual relationships.
  • Gay youth were delayed from participating in mission trips, or denied the opportunity altogether.

Gay LDS members said it felt like they had a “scarlet letter.”

LDS Goes LGBTQ

In a matter of a few years, however, the Mormon Church seems to have changed its tune.

It has reportedly backtracked on some of its more severe anti-LGBTQ policies. And now it’s supporting same-sex marriage. Well, sort of. There's a caveat we'll get to in a moment. 

Notably, the Church stopped short of condoning gay relationships (they still consider same-sex partnerships to be a violation of God’s commandments), but LDS leaders appear to concede that their hardline view of the past wasn’t working.  

“We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding,” the church said in a statement.

What Does the Respect for Marriage Act Do?

If passed, the law would mandate that states respect the sanctity of all marriages (including same-sex unions), so long as the marriage was legal in the state where it took place. If that sounds confusing, check out our longer breakdown on the Respect for Marriage Act.

This week, the bill passed a crucial vote in the Senate. Tellingly, among the senators in support was Mitt Romney, a prominent member of the LDS Church:

What Are Critics Saying?

The main criticism being raised (both of the legislation and the Mormon Church’s support for it) is that it doesn’t go nearly far enough in securing LGBTQ rights.

Although the bill represents some serious concessions, LDS leaders haven’t budged on their underlying beliefs.  

“Maintaining their position sitting on the fence. Acknowledging the federal right to marry — while reinforcing that they believe ‘real’ marriages should be between man/woman,” wrote one Twitter user, describing their reaction to the Church’s stance.

Others shared similar sentiments:

The bill also includes protections for religious groups, which critics argue leaves the door open for continued discrimination.

“Hate it — it provides a legal shield for loads of anti-LGBT discrimination by people and institutions (all in the name of ‘religious liberty’),” another commenter pointed out.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible to deny there has been a serious policy shift in the Mormon Church in a relatively short span of time.  

What is your reaction?

9 comments

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    If the Mormons are allowing there must be money to be made by the church. Mormons never let their religion get in the way of making money.

  1. James C Riggle's Avatar James C Riggle

    Go figure. All that money spent to stop prop 8 in California, and now this. Hmm?

  1. Dr. Zerpersande's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande

    Good for them. A drop of sanity in a sea of delusional thinking.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    So what. The bill that the LBGTQ groups are so gung ho about getting passed is going to come back and slap them right in the mush. It clearly states that you CANNOT go into one state that allows this and then come back to your state that may not allow it and then say they have to honor it. Which is going to kill a lot of hopes of forcing this issue. Whoops.

  1. David Cox's Avatar David Cox

    They need to read the real Bible. Roman 1... the story of Sodom. Jesus loves everyone but he gives you a new spirit (born again) read Galatians 5. If we want in the Spirit we will do the things pleasing to God.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      You realize of course that those are all just fables, myths, made up to scare people into obeying 'priests'

    2. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      which god

  1. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

    I think it’s a good thing that the LDS Church has accepted a potential federal law the majority view on LGBTQ+ marriage.

  1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

    That's more modern thinking than we have here in the U.P. of Michigan at even the ELCA churches. They don't even allow gay ministers to work in their churches in the Great Lakes Synod.

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