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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “01 – In the Dark”

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01 – In the Dark


“There are other abominations that go along with this.  With genuine apologies, I will mention some by way of warning.

The person who teaches the non-sinfulness of self-pollution is in the same class with the teachers who prostitute the sex urge.

So also the person who teaches or condones the crimes for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed—we have coined a softer name for them than came from old; we now speak of homosexuality, which, it is tragic to say, is found among both sexes.  I wonder if you girls have ever reflected on the thought that was in the mind of the man who first began to praise you for your boyish figures.  Not without foundation is the contention of some that the homosexuals are today exercising great influence in shaping our art, literature, music, and drama.

I forebear to more than mention that abomination of filth and loathsomeness of the ancients – carnal knowledge with beasts.”  (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “Home, and the Building of Home Life,” Relief Society Magazine 39:793-4, Dec. 1952)


“Every degree and type of lewdness, lasciviousness, and licentiousness; of concupiscence, prostitution, and whoredoms; of sodomy, onanism, and homosexuality… all these things, as well as many others, are condemned by divine edict and are among Lucifer’s chief means of leading souls to hell.”  (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (SLC: Bookcraft, 1958), p. 639, under the heading, “Sex Immorality”)


“Q: Aren’t some people born homosexuals?

A: This is so rare that whenever a case occurs it is considered a medical phenomenon.  In practically all cases, homosexuality is cultivated.  Individuals who get into abnormal sex habits during early youth can develop them into such a fixed pattern that they soon think these deviations are perfectly normal.  When homosexuals are arrested, they try to excuse their conduct by saying, ‘I guess I’m just made this way.’”

(W. Cleon Skousen, So You Want to Raise a Boy? (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962, p. 286)


“President Brown asked me for instructions as to answers to give the Bishops and Stake Presidents who inquire about appropriate action to take in cases of men in Church positions who are discovered to be guilty of homosexual practices.  I answered that they should be disfellowshipped.”  (David O. McKay diary, December 1, 1964)


“Homosexual – Has No Right to Membership in Church

Mention was made [in the First Presidency meeting] of the fact that at the meeting of the Missionary Executive Committee with the First Presidency this morning information was presented which indicates that there is an increasing number of our missionaries and others who have been or are becoming homosexual in their tendencies, and a number of them are being released on that account.

President Brown said that it is thought that some of them may be helped to overcome their perversion, while others have reached a point where they are a menace to others.  He said that we are given to understand at the Brigham Young University there is quite a number or group of them, including one professor.  He asked the question as to what our action would be in these cases, whether or not they should be excommunicated from the Church.

I said that they should be excommunicated without any doubt, that the homosexual has no right to membership in the Church.…

President Tanner said he had told the Stake President to get all the information he possibly could regarding these cases and that his feeling was that we should excommunicate those who are confirmed homosexuals.

I said I think they should be dealt with immediately if they are guilty.”  (David O. McKay diary, March 4, 1965)


“Every degree and type of lewdness, lasciviousness, and licentiousness; of concupiscence, prostitution, and whoredoms; of sodomy, onanism, and homosexuality… all these things, as well as many others, are condemned by divine edict and are among Lucifer’s chief means of leading souls to hell.”  [Note that this is a verbatim reprint of the 1958 edition of the book.]  (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (SLC: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 639, under the heading, “Sex Immorality”)


“Cases Handled by Church Courts

These include, but are not limited to: Fornication, adultery, homo-sexual acts…”  (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 20, 1968, p. 122)


[p. VI-31] Until recent years little has been said in the Church about the problems of homosexuality, largely because the practice was less known.  Now it has spread and involves many of our young men and some young women.…

It has been cited by many historians and scholars as one of the degenerating factors contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire.…

(Bishop’s Training Course and Self-Help Guide, 1970)


“[p. 4] There is no easy or even commonly accepted ‘cure’ for homosexuality.  Professionally trained people differ in their opinions regarding both the cause and the cure, but the gospel makes the issue clear.  Homosexuality is a sin, is learned behavior (not inborn), and can be stopped.…

[p. 5] In some cases, homosexual behavior begins during childhood.  Experimentation leads to habits that are at first physical, but later become deeply emotional and, therefore, much harder to change.… A traditional explanation of homosexuality is that the child has a domineering mother and a passive father.” (Homosexuality, Welfare Services Packet 1, 1973)


“A homosexual relationship is viewed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication.… 

Eternal life means returning to the Lord’s exalted presence and enjoying the privilege of eternal increase.  According to his revealed word, the only acceptable sexual relationship occurs within the family between a husband and a wife.

Homosexuality in men and women runs counter to these divine objectives and, therefore, is to be avoided and forsaken.” (The Priesthood Bulletin, February 1973, p. 2)


“’I Have a Question’

[p. 15] Why does the Church oppose homosexuality?  Why is it wrong?…

[Written by Lindsay M. Curtis, MD] Homosexuals and lesbians seldom are happy people.  Theirs is a relationship that is unnatural, one not bound by fidelity, trust, or loyalty, and one totally lacking in the meaningful family relationships that marriage offers.…

[p. 16] Because there is no legal bond, homosexuality too often encourages, or at least permits, promiscuity.…

There is harm in homosexuality.  Many homosexuals seek to introduce others into their practice, often those in their tender, impressionable years.”  (Ensign, July 1974)


“[p. 8] Specifically we found that:…

3. Father’s influence from early childhood through adolescence contributes strongly to homosexuality and other sexual sins.…

[p. 9] Some Serious Problems Within the Church Related to Father’s Weakness:…

2. Absence or disinterest of fathers in ways which contribute to unique LDS homosexuality and other sexual perversions.…


‘A major conclusion of our 1962 study was that male homosexuality would not evolve given a loving, constructively related father despite a neurotic mother-son relationship.  There is no reason now to change this conclusion…

Since 1962, I have examined about 850 male homosexuals in psychiatric consultation.  I also examined about 50 pairs of parents whose sons were homosexual.  This sizable sample of parents and sons confirmed our research findings.  In not a single case was there a good father-son relationship.  In general, the parents’ relationship with each other was also poor.  Mothers tended to be complainingly dissatisfied with their husbands and openly preferred their son to their spouse.  As a psychoanalyst, I find plenty wrong with a close-binding, possessive, overintimate [p. 18] mother as we described her.…

In sum, we found homosexuality to be the outcome of adverse experiences with both parents.… In every case I have examined, studied, or treated, homosexuality was the consequence of serious disturbances during childhood development.  It never represented a normal segment in the spectrum of sexual organization.’ (Irving Bieber, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 44(2):163-6, Apr. 1976)

(Victor Brown, Jr., “The Critical Influence of the Father in Social and Emotional Problems.  Report Number Two for the First Presidency,” May 18, 1976)


“Now a warning!  I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant.  It must be labeled as major transgression.  But I will speak plainly.  There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways.…

It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage.  I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden.  It is forbidden by the Lord.

There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts.  If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess.  I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, ‘I hit my companion.’

‘Oh, is that all,’ I said in great relief.

‘But I floored him,’ he said.

After learning a little more, my response was, ‘Well, thanks.  Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.’

I am not recommending that course to you but I am not omitting it.  You must protect yourself.” (Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Men Only, An address given at the Priesthood Session of General Conference, October 2, 1976”)


“Grounds for Church Court Action…

d. Homosexuality”

(General Handbook of Instructions, Number 21, 1976, p. 71)  [Note: D. Michael Quinn, in Same-Sex Dynamics, p. 443, writes: “The General Handbook of Instructions dropped ‘homosexual acts’ and added ‘homosexuality’ to the list of sins for which a person could be excommunicated from the LDS Church.  This implied that Mormons could be punished for their homosexual orientation even if they were celibate.  By removing the burden of proof, this allowed overly zealous bishops and stake presidents to excommunicate Mormons who admitted their homosexual orientation but denied accusations of homoerotic behavior.”


“Anita Bryant was praised Friday by the president of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for combatting homosexuality.

A telegram was sent to the Miami singer and one-time Miss America runner-up by Barbara B. Smith, Salt Lake City.

The message congratulated the entertainer for her work in gaining repeal Tuesday of a Dade County, Fla. law prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in employment and housing.

Miss Bryant was told in the message: ‘On behalf of the one million members of the Relief Society, we commend you for your courageous and effective efforts in combatting homosexuality and laws which would legitimize this insidious life style.’”  (“Relief Society Leader Hails Anita Bryant’s Homosexuality Stand,” Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1977, p. B3)


“Newsweek Magazine says that there are 20 million homosexuals in the United States.  A 37-year-old woman, Anita Bryant of Miami, Fla., is waging a determined fight to keep this evil from spreading, by legal acceptance, through our society.

In the midst of the recent Florida election, she faced her chief antagonist, the owner of a nationwide chain of 40 ‘gay bathhouses.  Although the election was a one-county affair, the battle there has nationwide significant, as voters repealed the Dade County ‘gay rights’ ordinance by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Every right-thinking person will sustain Miss Bryant, a prayerful, upright citizen, for her stand.  Righteous people everywhere also should look to their own neighborhoods to determine to what extent the ‘gay’ people have infiltrated their areas.…

Immorality between the sexes has become a national disgrace.  It raises a stench in the nostrils of every right-thinking person.  But immorality WITHIN the sexes is at least as repulsive and disgusting and is severely condemned by Almighty God.

When the Lord placed sex sin next to murder in its seriousness, he most certainly included homosexual offenses.  They are against every right principle.”  (“Unnatural, without excuse,” Editorial, Church News, July 9, 1977, p. 16)


“Homosexuality is not a biological entity, nor impetus, nor pattern, nor intentional entity.  Homosexuality can be defined as a product of one’s intentional conceptions about himself, as based on substance, impetus and patterned meanings, which may or may not lead to overt homosexual behaviors.” (B. Roy Julian, “Male Homosexuality: A Theoretical and Philosophical Analysis and Integration of Etiology,” PhD dissertation, BYU, August 1978.  NOTE THAT ALLEN BERGIN WAS ON HIS DOCTORAL COMMITTEE)


“The attached booklet [Homosexuality] is a revision of Welfare Services Packet 1, originally issued in 1973, on the subject of homosexuality.…” (First Presidency Circular Letter, April 29, 1981)


“[p. 1] The information on the causes of homosexuality was derived primarily from work with males.  Although the causes of female homosexuality (lesbianism) may differ somewhat, the suggestions given for the treatment and prevention of homosexuality almost always apply to both males and females.…

As we have previously stated, homosexuality is a sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication.  Powerful forces are seeking to establish this sinful practice as an acceptable way of life.… According to the Lord’s revealed word, the only acceptable sexual relationship occurs within the family between a husband and a wife.…

Professionals do not agree on the causes of homosexual behavior.  However, most professional research supports the view that homosexual behavior is learned, and is influenced by unhealthy emotional development in early childhood.  This explanation is most consistent with what the Lord has revealed concerning the eternal nature of man as the offspring of divine parents.

Although there are probably many factors affecting the development of homosexuality, the following elements appear quite consistently:

  1. Disturbed family background.
  1. A key factor in the development of both male and female homosexuality seems to be the lack of a warm, supportive, affectionate relationship between the individual and his father.…
  2. The mother usually attempts to fill the physical and emotional void left by the father.  Some mothers are overprotective and dominant.
  3. Because of inadequate parental examples in the home, the child does not learn proper masculine and feminine behavior.
  4. The relationship between mother and father is often strained, hostile, and competitive.
  1. Poor Relationship with Peers.

c. The individual often uses homosexual behavior as a way to gain acceptance.…

  1. Unhealthy Sexual Attitudes

b. [p. 2] The mother may place too much importance on a strong emotional attachment between herself and her son as a result of her effort to fill the emotional void left by the father.…

e. Some young people may misinterpret Church emphasis on premarital chastity, completely avoiding heterosexual interests or relationships.

  1. Early homosexual experience
  1. Early homosexual experiences increase the possibility of future homosexual encounters.
  2. Early masturbation experiences introduce the individual to sexual thoughts which may become habit-forming and reinforcing to homosexual interests.…
  3. The individual is usually introduced to homosexual behavior by someone his own age or a few years older, almost always by someone he knows.…

Many persons involved in homosexual activities during recent years have publicly requested special exemption from social, legal, and religious prohibitions.  They claim the authority of scientific research, and have taken the position that:

  1. They are not responsible for their homosexual behavior because it is caused by conditions beyond their own control (such as biological or environmental factors).
  2. The course of homosexuality, once entered, is irreversible and incurable.…

The Church’s unequivocal position is that any rationalization of homosexuality is wrong.…

Homosexuality is a sin.  Inspired prophets have taught throughout the ages that homosexuality is a sin.…

Homosexual behavior is learned and can be overcome. To believe that immoral behavior is inborn or hereditary is to deny that men have agency to choose between sin and righteousness.…  It is inconceivable that—as some involved in homosexual behavior claim—he would permit some of his children to be born with desires and inclinations which would require behavior contrary to the eternal plan.…

[p. 8] Bishops and stake presidents, when prompted by the Spirit, should ask specific questions concerning homosexual behavior in interviews for temple recommends.”  (Homosexuality, Second Edition, April 1981.  “Published by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”)


“The American Psychiatric Association recently voted to remove homosexuality from its list of disorders, even though one study showed that 50% of the male homosexual surveyed in one American city had had at least 500 sexual partners and 28% had 1000 partners.  If that is normal behavior, we’ve got problems.”  (Bruce C. Hafen, “The Gospel and Romantic Love,” Ensign, October 1982, p. 65)


“Church courts may be convened to consider—…

3. Serious transgressions, including adultery, fornication, abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism, child molesting…”

(General Handbook of Instructions, 1983, p. 51)


“[p. 225] … a church that The Advocate called ‘one of the most viciously homophobic denominations.’

[p. 226] The attempt to change the position of the church leaders, however, did not make a dent. If anything, the position of the church hardened in the early 1980s, as the campaign against gays once again picked up momentum. An editorial in the Church News cited a biblical reference to homosexuals being stoned to death.”  (Robert Gottlieb and Peter Wiley, America’s Saints: The Rise of Mormon Power (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984))


“Church courts may be convened to consider…

  1. Serious transgressions, including adultery, fornication, abortion, homosexuality, lesbianism, child molesting…” (General Handbook of Instructions, No. 23, 1985, p. 8-1)


“On 11 January as part of the CBS news program “CBS Sunday Morning,” parts of an interview with Elder Dallin H. Oaks are broadcast. The transcript of the entire interview, not just the portions broadcast, are distributed to bishops and stake presidents in the New York/New Jersey area with a cover memo from Roger Shields, Bi-regional Director of the Public Communications Council, dated 13 February 1987.…

The Church’s reaction to this segment is that the CBS portrayal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its leaders and members in relationship to those involved in homosexual activities and/or suffering from AIDS, was unfair, distorted, the teachings of the Church on the subject [sic], and was unbalanced in the extreme.

Oaks: The Church’s position is that men and women should refrain from any sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage.  That commandment applies to sexual relations between the sexes and among the sexes.…

CBS: What happens when you commit transgression?

Oaks: Which transgression?

CBS: Homosexual behavior.

Oaks: The same penalties and consequences are involved in any kind of sexual transgression whether it is between a man and a woman or between a woman and a woman or a man and a man.  It is sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage.

(David Combe compilation, January 11, 1987)


“A few of Elder Oaks’s comments were included in a January 11 segment of Sunday morning with Charles Kuralt. However, the omission by CBS of some of his more pertinent comments during the interview, coupled with the overall tone of the program, may have resulted in some viewers receiving an incomplete perception of the churches concerns on this important issue. The entire CBS interview, portions of which are quoted below, was conducted December 30.

‘The Church’s position based on scriptural commandments is that men and women should refrain from any sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage,’ Elder Oaks affirmed. ‘That is the same doctrine for sexual relations between the sexes and among the sexes.’ The church, he emphasized, does not ‘recognize homosexual marriages’ because there is no … scriptural warrant for homosexual marriages.’”

(“Apostle Reaffirms Church’s position on homosexuality,” Church News, February 14, 1987, p. 10)


“Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip to such practices again.”  (Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference address, April 1987; Ensign, May, 1987, p. 47.)


“In a 1987, President Gordon B. Hinckley renounced Kimball’s teachings in Ensign, the church’s official magazine: ‘Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or behavior.’…” (“Mo’s vs. ‘Mos: The battle between Mormons and Gays,” Q Salt Lake, September 14, 2009)


“A turning point might be best characterized by the 1987 statement of Gordon B. Hinckley, then first counselor in the First Presidency of the largely non-functioning President Ezra Taft Benson: ‘Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices.’” (Alan Michael Williams, “Mormon and Queer at the Crossroads,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 44(1):62, Spring 2011, quoting Gordon B. Hinckley, “Reverence and Morality,” Ensign, June 1987, p. 45)


“’Mormons view homosexuality as a sin that can be overcome,’ he [Carl – pseudonym] said. ‘I know of many gays, including myself, who prayed until their knees are bloody and their hearts broken and still can’t change.’” (“Beliefs vs. gay Mormons,” The Phoenix Gazette, October 10, 1987, Religion section, p. 1)


“As used here, serious transgression means a deliberate and major offense against morality.  It includes (but is not limited to) attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, child abuse (sexual or physical)…”  [Note: This is a change from the 1985 edition, which proscribed homosexuality, and not homosexual relations.]  (General Handbook of Instructions, No. 24, 1989, p. 10-4)


“The Lord’s law of moral conduct is abstinence outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed with in the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior, is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or who influence others to do so are subject to church discipline.…

There is a distinction between immoral thoughts and feelings and participating in either immoral heterosexual or any homosexual behavior.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, November 14, 1991)


“[p. 1] This booklet will help Church leaders assist members, both men and women, who are troubled by homosexual problems. Participation in such behavior is of particular concern because it violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel.…

No general agreement exists about the causes of such problems. It is important for you as a church leader to help members understand that regardless of the causes, these problems can be controlled and eventually overcome.…

[p. 2] In order to change homosexual behavior, a person must understand the seriousness of the transgression, feel deeply repentant, and have a firm commitment to change. These same elements will help a person overcome homosexual thoughts and feelings, which, although less serious, lead to deviant behavior.…

[p. 3] Be careful not to label the person as homosexual or gay. Such labels can undermine the person’s belief that change is possible and make communicate the mistaken notion that a man or woman his born with a homosexual identity that cannot be changed. It is more appropriate to speak of homosexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Help the troubled member recognize and overcome common rationalizations such as the following: ‘I am not responsible for my behavior because I was born this way.’ Although some struggle with unwanted homosexual thoughts and feelings, there is no conclusive evidence that anyone is born with a homosexual orientation.…

[p. 4] Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems. The lives of others should not be damaged by entering a marriage where such concerns exist. Encouraging members to cultivate heterosexual feelings as a way to resolve homosexual problems generally leads them to frustration and discouragement. However, some people have reported that once they are freed from homosexual problems, heterosexual feelings have gradually emerged.… (Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems.  Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders (Salt Lake City: Church, 1992))


We have read your letter entitled “Empathy, not Confusion” and are aware of your physicians regarding the need for celibacy.…

It seems to us, that the view you expressed in your letter does not begin with a level playing field. You ask the homosexual to accept all of the conditions that may come into play for the heterosexual, and say that, in addition, they (all homosexuals) will be required to deny their sexuality. And, if they decide to act on their sexuality, like we heterosexuals, they cannot be a part of our religious community. Is that not discriminatory?…

The only defense seems to be that God said it and the prophets have reiterated it. If one sincerely believes that God has spoken, and there has been no misunderstanding, the case is closed. As parents of a gay son, we just cannot accept that position.…

If he chooses a physical relationship with someone of the same sex and it is fulfilling and purposeful and committed, how could we excommunicate or ostracize him from the family? We could not, would not, and for the life of us, cannot understand why the church should.”  (Gary and Mildred Watts to G. Eugene England, November 22, 1993)


“I emphasize that I thought this not because I thought that what I am advocating for right now is necessarily the ideal solution or the one God would prefer but simply the best we could hope for for a while—until we Mormons (and to some extent our surrounding culture) could mature enough to accept the scientific evidence that such orientation is at least mainly not chosen and not changeable. I genuinely hoped—and still do—that revelation or common sense would gradually produce a condition where the Church could condone monogamous same-sex marriage for this life and include that within its definition of ‘chastity.’ The recent announcement of course sets that back, at least for awhile.…

I think our church practices and attitudes are influenced by American culture, including its fearful and sometimes violent insecurity about sexuality, and that God again has to wait on us to some extent—not willing to tear of the church apart, to destroy its ability to do the immense amount of good it does for so many, in an attempt to force it to be completely true to its fundamental theology of unconditional love and respect for agency.… I believe we will eventually, that we must do so before the Gospel can genuinely be taken to all the world and Christ can come again, but in the meantime, I’m afraid lots of people will be made to suffer our ignorance and fear, as many blacks did until 1978, and that, just as we injured ourselves as individual Mormons and as a Church by our tardiness in full acceptance of blacks we are now injuring ourselves concerning gays and lesbians.…

Robert Rees, as you may know, was cruelly humiliated in having his mission call to Lithuania rescinded after the farewell, apparently because someone didn’t like his genuine effort to be a good pastor, ‘No More Strangers and Foreigners.’…

If I am right the recent First Presidency statement has made it extremely difficult to do much right now about same-sex orientation, but I’m trying to think of some ways. Perhaps you can make some suggestions.…

One reason I’m having difficulty here, of course, is that I believe very strongly that eternal, Godlike love is, will be, heterosexual, deriving much of its creative power, its ability to produce new life and new universes, from being bi-polar, so I have to believe that after this life the ‘crosses,’ both physical and cultural, will drop away, and we will all be able to develop, if we want to, the heterosexual marriages that make such godhood possible. This, of course, makes me hesitant to see same-sex orientation as foundational to eternal identity—and perhaps somewhat sympathetic with the Church’s caution about same-sex marriage and any tendencies that might have to reinforce such a sense of identity. However, I believe that same-sex marriage, with clear reinforcement of our basic doctrines about eternal heterosexual marriage, including rejecting our dangerous and contradictory expectations about eternal polygamous marriage, would be a great improvement over the present condition, which seems to encourage promiscuity, embitterment, and alienation from the church.”  (Eugene England to Gary and Mildred Watts, March 5, 1994)


In the church’s brochure on homosexuality published in 1981, I would have been told in no uncertain terms that same-sex attractions and my children were a result of poor parenting. Someone must have convinced the riders of the church brochures that that theory was incorrect as the more recent 1992 published brochure on homosexuality advises ‘church leaders not to blame the parents or other family members when someone chooses to be homosexual.’ I find that change interesting and informative. A church member trying to gain some understanding about homosexuality from the church in 1981 would certainly receive a different perspective about the role of parenting than a church member reading the 1992 brochure. Unfortunately, that statement also implies that people choose to be homosexual.

I am personally convinced that no one chooses their sexual orientation any more than they choose their eye color or their fingerprints. The professional organizations to which I belong generally support that view. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the Society of Pediatrics have all issued statements indicating the choice is not operative in sexual orientation and that it is set very early in life. These professional organizations all discourage attempts to change sexual orientation and have stated that it does not work and that it can do more harm than good.

Yet my church continues to suggest otherwise.…

It frustrates me to see the church align itself with fringe practitioners who still attempt to change orientation through ‘reparative therapy’ when their own professional organizations label such attempts as an ‘abuse and misuse of psychiatry.’ LDS Church Social Services recently invited one such practitioner to visit the BYU campus providing him with a forum and tacit approval despite the fact that mainstream psychologists and psychiatrists give him little or no credibility.…

Thank goodness that recent church publications no longer explicitly encourage heterosexual marriage. The 1992 brochure now states: ‘Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems. The lives of others should not be damaged by entering a marriage where such concerns exist. Encouraging heterosexual feelings as a way to resolve homosexual problems generally leads them to frustration and discouragement.’…

Church publications generally do a poor job, in my opinion, of clarifying what they mean by change. The 1992 publication response to the question, ‘Can sexual orientation be changed?’ as follows: ‘Change is possible. There are those who have ceased their homosexual behavior and overcome such thoughts and feelings.’ This letter sentence may be interpreted by gays and their family members to mean that one’s sexual orientation can actually be changed. That inevitably creates false hopes for the individuals, their loved ones and their parents, and sets up expectations that simply will not materialize. People can alter the way they respond to their sexuality by disciplining themselves and not acting on their same-sex feelings, but to date, there is no credible scientific evidence that supports the view that sexual orientation can change.…

Wallace Stegner wrote, ‘Verifiable knowledge makes its way slowly, and only under cultivation, but fable has burrs and feet and claws and wings and an indestructible sheath like weed-seed, and can be carried almost anywhere and take root without benefit of soil or water.’”  (Gary Watts, speech at B. H. Roberts Society meeting, May 18, 1995)


“The message from the First Presidency in the September Ensign [which was a reprint of James E. Faust’s BYU address on November 15, 1994—see “08-Hawaii” file] has prompted us, as parents of gay children, to offer such a plea.  How long must we endure the marginalization and vilification of our children?  The continuing characterization by our ecclesiastical leaders of our gay children as ‘evil’, as ‘being of the devil’, and as ‘perpetrators of the unraveling of the fabric of human society’ is painful.…

Sadly, we’ve suffered with some who were unable to overcome the trauma of church and societal approval and have succumbed to drugs, alcohol, depression, AIDS and suicide.

We are told by some church authorities that our designation as men or women began before this world was.  Do we ignore those children born as intersexes and those with chromosomal abnormalities that make their true gender problematic?  Do we pretend they don’t exist?  How are we to interpret the presence of homosexuality in humans in a relative fixed percentage across all cultures, races and ethnic groups if there is, indeed, no biological basis for homosexuality?  Is the devil playing some perverse role in the creation of homosexuality which now has been documented in most mammalian species in the animal kingdom?  President Faust states boldly that ‘inborn homosexual orientation … is a false belief.’  The fruits of mounting scientific evidence, our own experience and our own children tell us otherwise.  Virtually everyone of our gay children indicate that their same-sex attractions were with them from the first awakening of their sexual feelings.  Are we to ignore their first-hand testimony and experience?

As parents we, too, have felt the hurt and sting of the barbs and arrows directed at us.  The 1992 church brochure entitled Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems seemed to moderate the position taken by the church as it relates to the parent’s role as an etiological factor in homosexuality.  A 1995 document, however, published by LDS Social Services for LDS counselors and psychotherapists, attempts to re-establish the position taken by the 1981 church publication on homosexuality which placed most of the blame for homosexuality on poor parenting, i.e. an absent or weak father and a dominant mother.…

Several of us wrote to President Faust after he gave his talk at the BYU devotional last fall and expressed our hurt and anguish that he would so characterize our children.  Those letters must have fallen on a deaf ear, as his talk has been published without any change or consideration for the concerns we expressed.  How are we to feel and respond?  Current church policy is tearing apart families dealing with this issue rather than keeping them together.…

We want you to know we are suffering and look to you for help, not rejection and condemnation. As the understanding of homosexuality evolves, is the status quo the best we can hope for? As with the blacks and the priesthood is it possible that additional revelation may be forthcoming that might bring some peace and understanding to our families?”  (Gary and Mildred Watts to Gordon B. Hinckley, August 27, 1995)

Gary and Mildred received a letter from F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency, dated September 18, 1995, which contained the following paragraph: “In a conference address given in April 1987, President Gordon B. Hinckley expressed the feelings of the brethren as follows: ‘Prophets of God have repeatedly taught through the ages the practices of homosexual relations, fornication, and adultery are grievous sins. Sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage are forbidden by the Lord. We reaffirm those teachings.’”


“There are those who would have us believe in the validity of what they choose to call same-sex marriage. Our hearts reach out to those who struggle with feelings of affinity for the same gender. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and our sisters. However, we cannot condone immoral practices on your part any more than we can condone immoral practices on the part of others.…” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” address in Relief Society General Conference, September 23, 1995; in Ensign, November 1995, pp. 98-101)


“Mar 1995: Apostle Dallin Oaks begins work on an article on same-sex attraction (personal communication) that will be published in October.” (Richley H. Crapo, “Chronology of LDS Involvement in Same-sex Marriage Politics,” 1997)


“How should we respond when a person announces that he is a homosexual or she is a lesbian and that scientific evidence ‘proves’ he or she was ‘born that way’?…

What we call gender was an essential characteristic of our existence prior to our birth.…

Our eternal destiny—exaltation in the celestial kingdom—is made possible only through the atonement of Jesus Christ (through which we became and can remain ‘innocent before God’ [D&C 93:38] and is only available to a man and a woman who have entered into and been faithful to the covenants of an eternal marriage in a temple of God.…

Persons who desire to do what is right but through no fault of their own are unable to have an eternal marriage in mortal life will have an opportunity to qualify for eternal life in a period following mortality, if they keep the commandments of God and are true to their baptismal and other covenants.…

Applying the First Presidency’s distinction to the question of same-sex relationships, we should distinguish between (1) homosexual (or lesbian) ‘thoughts and feelings’ (which should be resisted and redirected), and (2) ‘homosexual behavior’ (which is a serious sin).

We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote the condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.…

In contrast to our doctrinal approach, many persons approach the problems of same-sex attraction solely from the standpoint of current science. While I am not qualified as a scientist, with the aid of scientific literature and with the advice of qualified scientists and practitioners, I will attempt to refute the claim of some that scientific discoveries demonstrate that avowed homosexuals and lesbians were ‘born that way.’…

Wherever they fall along the spectrum between outright rejection and total acceptance of biological determinism of sexual orientation, most scientists concede that the current evidence is insufficient and that firm conclusions must await many additional scientific studies.… (Dallin H. Oaks, “Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 1995)


“The Mormons currently have beliefs similar to that of the Southern Baptist convention. However, this could conceivably change at any time as the LDS church believes in continual revelation from God. They received one such revelation in the 19th century that outlawed polygamy. They received a second revelation in the 1970s which canceled the anti-black racist policies of the church.…

As of 1995-NOV-15, we are awaiting a response for an update from the LDS Church.” (Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance website, November 15, 1995)


“This training document has been prepared for the exclusive use of the LDS Social Services to assist staff, interns, and contract providers in their work with individuals having homosexual problems. Because the document is approved only for ‘in-house’ use, it should not be reproduced nor distributed to others outside of LDS Social Services.…

An important landmark in the gay activist battle to reshape public and professional perceptions of homosexuality came on December 14, 1973. On that date the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality as a diagnostic category from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).…

As LDS Social Services practitioners we need to be aware of the political climate, but not be persuaded by it. There is sufficient to scientific research and clinical evidence to conclude that homosexuality is treatable and preventable when we understand its origin and development.…

Because the lack of proper identification with the same-sex parents is often a predictor of adult homosexuality, early intervention for children who meet a criteria for gender confusion can be very helpful.…” (LDS Social Services, Understanding and Helping Individuals with Homosexual Problems, 1995)


“[p. 280] The history of the LDS community’s attitudes toward homosexuality within their own community has gone through three phases. The first, lasting until after World War II is characterized by indifference. Non-heterosexual orientation was considered a sin but not a serious concern. This changed as homosexuality gained greater prominence in both mainstream American culture and in the attentions of the church hierarchy. Homosexuals were excommunicated and their sexual orientation was portrayed in rhetoric from the pulpit as a voluntary decision to follow a road of sin.…

[p. 281] in 1947, a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Spencer W. Kimball, was assigned to handle interviews with members involved in sexual transgressions, including homosexuality. These experiences prompted him to make admonishments of chastity a frequent theme of his sermons. While many church authorities have compared homosexuality to the other sexual sins of fornication and adultery, they usually go further and referred to homosexuality as a ‘perversion’ or a ‘crime against nature’ in addition to a sin. Fornication and adultery are perceived to be heterosexual, and thus more understandable, sins. In 1959, Kimball and another apostle, Mark E. Petersen, received a special assignment to counsel homosexuals. The church hierarchy had noticed that this problem was appearing more and more frequently.

Despite the frequent claim by homosexuals that they had no control over their sexual orientation, Spencer [Kimball] believed that this problem, like all others, would yield to the consistent prayerful exercise of self-restraint. He pointed out that homosexuals rarely were excommunicated for their past acts but usually only for their unwillingness to make the effort to change. (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball: Twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints {SLC: Bookcraft, 1977}, p. 381)

[p. 282] By 1968, the number of cases was considered so large that more General Authorities were assigned to counsel homosexuals. A pamphlet, Hope for Transgressors, was published in 1970, encouraging homosexuals to repent. With the help of ‘a kindly Church official who understands,’ a ‘total cure’ could be affected. While the pamphlet does not refer to gender, the cover is of a man with bowed head resting on one hand. The focus of the church was on the male homosexual. Lesbians were always referred to in passing and never focused on as a problem in their own right.

In 1972, responsibility for counseling homosexuals was turned over to LDS Social Services. The assignment was viewed as ‘twofold’: to develop literature and assistance for local priesthood leaders as they dealt with the problem on the local level, and also to develop a ‘professional’ therapy model to be used by therapists on the staff of Social Services. Robert L. Blattner, a special assistant to the LDS Commissioner of Personal Welfare, delivered a report o this research to the first AMCAP conference in 1975, which presented a portrait of the homosexual as a pathological individual, who usually came from a ‘disturbed family background,’ had a ‘lack of relationship with peers,’ and manifested ‘unhealthy sexual attitudes.’  Homosexuality was ‘a symptom of a [p. 283] more basic difficulty within the individual that he has grown up with.’  Blattner took care to point out that the homosexual should be treated as ‘an individual in total.’

The entire presentation focused on male homosexuality, since very few cases involving females had come to the attention of Social Services.  The rhetoric coming from the pulpit also continued to focus exclusively on males.  One are of therapy that Blattner concentrated on was teaching the client control over masturbation, since, ‘Masturbation and fantasy seem to be a key in the maintenance of the problem of homosexuality.’  His final conclusion: ‘Homosexuals can be counseled with success if he so desires to accomplish this.’

In a question and answer period following his presentation, Blattner was asked, ‘What is the church’s feeling about electric shock and other forms of behavior modification?’  The church employee responded that in as far as he knew the church had made no ‘statement’ on the issue other than its use should be ‘propriety with the standards of the church.’  His experience was that ‘most people coming to us can be helped’ by ‘aversion therapy, relaxation or desensitization.’  This exchange refers to [p. 284] research going on at Brigham Young University at that time.

Aversion therapy is based on the idea that if a ‘conditioned stimulus (CS) is followed by an intense unconditioned stimulus-unconditioned response combination,’ then ‘according to learning theory, after an appropriate number of pairings the CS will no longer elicit pleasure but displeasure (pain and anxiety).’  This therapy has been used to treat alcoholism, exhibitionism, and pedophilia, and some researchers had used this procedure in dealing with homosexuality prior to the research at BYU.  Experiments using this technique were also conducted at BYU during the 1970s, where a male homosexual subject was shown pictures of homosexual pornography and given a variable electrical shock in association with these pictures.  The erotic pictures were associated with anxiety in the subject as he anticipated the shock.  After six sessions of this, the procedure was changed so that the subject could avoid the shock by pressing a button.  This button instantly replaced the homosexual pornography with a picture of a nude female.  A doctoral study at BYU determined, combined with the evidence from another study, that this form of electric aversion treatment was ‘an effective treatment for male homosexuality.’  Certainly this is not true from the one known account of a person who experienced electric aversion therapy at BYU.  Though he had only experienced homosexual feelings and had not acted on them at the time of the therapy, eh later acted on his feelings and joined Affirmation, a gay rights group formed of excommunicated Latter-day Saints.…

[p. 290] A presentation on ‘Lesbianism and Women’ at another AMCAP convention two years later prompted an AMCAP member to complain: 

We were very subtly led to believe, tough not directly told, that homosexuality is something one is born with and that the task of the therapist is to help individuals come to grips with what they are and to find ways to reconcile themselves to the Church and gospel teachings.… It distresses and amazes me when, even in AMCAP, we seek the solutions of the world.… We should not have to defend gospel principles and Church standards at AMCAP meetings.  In our charter, they are a given.”

(Eric Gottfrid Swedin, “‘You are healing souls:’ A History of Psychotherapy Within the Modern Latter-day Saint Community,” PhD dissertation, Case Western Reserve University, January 1996)


“The Salt Lake City School Board faces an unenviable task as it ponders whether or not too permit student homosexual clubs to meet in public high school facilities.…

But if one thing is clear at this point, it is that whatever the board does should reflect community values—values that have long viewed homosexual practices as a serious problem to be combated rather than merely pitied or tolerated, let alone abetted.…

It is still appalling that more than half the identified hate crimes in Utah are aimed at homosexuals.…

The trouble is that the school board cannot permit these clubs without at least it appearing to sanction the practice of homosexuality and opening the clubs or even those for, say, gangs and drug users.

Nor can the board or any other body blink away the fact that homosexual practices are illegal as well as immoral for thoroughly justifiable reasons.…

For many centuries, a wide variety of nations and cultures have outlawed homosexuality long before its association with AIDS because of the great harm it does to society’s basic unit, the family.

If, despite all this, federal law is still deemed to mandate clubs for homosexuals in schools where other student clubs are permitted, then such an inappropriate interpretation should be challenged in the courts or the law should be rewritten—no matter how long it takes.

The bottom line is that homosexual activities and practices are an abomination, not just some ‘alternate lifestyle’ no better or worse than others.

Keep in mind, too, that as far as society is concerned the problem is not so much with people who experience homosexual tendencies and impulses but exercise self-discipline and do not act on them. Rather, the problem is with active, practicing homosexuals who do not change or in some cases do not even want or try to change. Most serious of all is the problem created when some aggressive activists seek to make society weaken or even discard tested improved moral standards or at least make the public feel guilty about not accepting homosexuality’s practitioners and promoters on their own terms.…

Compassion and understanding do not require or even excuse steps that would imply the official approval of homosexuality. It’s time to draw a clear line that must not be crossed. The challenge now before the Salt Lake City School Board provides an opportunity to do just that.” (“Clubs for homosexuals or no school clubs at all?” Deseret News editorial, February 11, 1996)

Gary Watts wrote the following letter to the editor the day after the editorial was published:

“…  It is obvious to the reader that the writer has never considered the possibility that homosexual relationships may be just as moral or immoral as heterosexual relationships. To arbitrarily label all homosexual relationships as an abomination and immoral is not only inaccurate, but insensitive and intolerant.…

The writer also states, ‘if one thing is clear at this point, it is that whatever the board does should reflect community values.’ Exactly what are our community values, anyway? To love our neighbor as ourselves, to do unto others as we would have them do to us, and to not be judgmental are, in my opinion, the values I cherish most. Community values should certainly be considered, but any decision the board makes should be based on correct information. Most everyone agrees that a school board making a decision about segregation in the public schools in the 1950s would be making an egregious mistake to base their decision on the ‘community values’ that viewed racial segregation is justifiable.”


“My partner, Dr. and Mormon bishop, Rod Petersen, a man of great compassion and respect for others, as well as for his church, told me several weeks ago, ‘I’ve gradually formed my own impression—I am satisfied that homosexuality is largely biologic, is not often chosen and is not changeable—I’m still uncertain about its expression.’ I had a long telephone conversation with Howard Stephenson, the Republican Senator from Draper, who was one of the most outspoken legislators during the recent legislative brouhaha. He basically shares Dr. Petersen’s sentiment, but because of his difficulty with #5 [Homosexuality is morally neutral], expressed his view that public policy should continue to discourage homosexual behavior. Why? Because most people are uncomfortable with homosexuality. They have been taught that it is wrong. They recognize the difficulties of being gay in our society and church and sincerely want to discourage it as a choice. They don’t understand the complexities of being homosexual. They think intuitively that gay people will be happier by repressing their attractions and living as heterosexuals. They believe that sanctioning same-sex relationships will undermine the moral fabric of our society and adversely affect the nuclear family. They simply do not understand that homosexuals are not a threat to the family; that the real threat is peoples’ profound ignorance about homosexuality and their reluctance to face the truth about it.…

Let me share with you a beautiful short essay written by Bishop Mel Wheatley, Jr. of the United Methodist Church entitled ‘I Do Not Believe Homosexuality a Sin.’

I am an enthusiastically heterosexual male. Is my heterosexuality a virtue? A sign of righteousness? Either an accomplishment or a victory of some kind on my part? Of course not. I had nothing whatsoever to do with my being heterosexual. It is a mysterious gift of God’s grace communicated through an exceedingly complex set of chemical, biological, chromosomal, hormonal, environmental, developmental factors—totally outside my control. My heterosexuality is a gift—neither a virtue nor a sin.

What I do with my heterosexuality, however, is my personal, moral, and spiritual responsibility. My behavior as a heterosexual may be, therefore, very sinful—brutal, exploitative, selfish, promiscuous, superficial. My behavior as a heterosexual, on the other hand, may be beautiful—tender, considerate, loyal, other-centered, profound.

Precisely this distinction between being a heterosexual and behaving as a heterosexual applies to homosexual persons as well, unless you and I are guilty of that lowest blow of all, and that is to work by double standards.

Homosexuality, quite like heterosexual all day, is neither a virtue nor an accomplishment. It is a mysterious gift of God’s grace communicated through an exceedingly complex set of chemical, biological, chromosomal, hormonal, environmental, developmental factors totally outside my homosexual friend’s control. His or her sexuality is a gift—neither a virtue nor a sin. What she or he does with their homosexuality, however, is there personal, moral, and spiritual responsibility.

Their behavior as a homosexual may, therefore, be very sinful—brutal, exploitative, selfish, promiscuous, superficial. Their behavior as a homosexual, on the other hand, may be beautiful—tender, considerate, loyal, other-centered, profound.

With this interpretation of the mystery that must be attributed to sexual orientation, both heterosexual and homosexual, I clearly do not believe that homosexuality is a sin.

… Most thoughtful individuals, when reading the first five books of the Bible, discount much of what Moses records. Many Latter-day Saints no longer accept the literal interpretation of his accounts of the creation, the flood, the confusion of tongues, or the parting of the Red Sea. We have long since abandoned his statements calling for the death penalty for not keeping the Sabbath Day holy, or for adultery, Incest, fornication, homosexuality, and beastiality. It was Moses who said that God was opposed to interracial marriage, who sanctioned plural marriage and even went so far as to pronounce the death penalty on animals who were involved in beastiality with humans.…  I suggest that it is time to look passed Moses. The greater law has superseded much of what is said in the Old Testament.…” (Gary M. Watts, “Mugged by Reality,” speech delivered at the Family Fellowship in May 1996)


“Representative David M. Bresnahan has stated publicly on the floor of the House of Representatives that his younger brother, now dead of AIDS, became homosexual because he was sexually abused by his scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster in his early teens.  He further asserts that 21 other boys in the scout troop were similarly abused and that ‘through checking with one another’ it had become apparent that most were homosexual.  It was his contention that this story confirms the fact that homosexuals ‘recruit’ and force these young people into a ‘homosexual lifestyle.’…

I am prepared to donate $10,000 to any charity of Representative Bresnahan’s choosing when and if he is able to provide adequate documentation as to the truthfulness of his story.  Documentation should be relatively simple, since according to his story, the research has already been done.  All that is left for him to do, is supply me with the names of the 22 scouts that were involved and identify which of the 22 became homosexual as a result of their scout experience.…” (Gary M. Watts, “The $10,000 Challenge,” May 5, 1996)

“… The point of Bresnahan’s personal tale was to prove that children can be converted to homosexuality by manipulative adults and thereby bolster the reasoning behind the Legislature’s ban on gay student clubs.…

David Bresnahan already has scaled back considerably his claim of wholesale Boy Scout molestations.

Initially, he denied making the statement that 22 boys were involved, claiming he was misquoted in the press.  But after reviewing the tape, Bresnahan acknowledged making the inaccurate statement, saying it was inadvertent. ‘The emotional side of it prevented me from thinking clearly,’ he said.  ‘I was planning to come back and explain that.  I’m astonished I didn’t do it.’

Bresnahan said the decision to reveal his brother’s molestation—which he had not spoken of even to his wife of seven years—was ‘spontaneous.’  That despite the fact he earlier had told a reporter of his planned speech.”  (Dan Harrie, “Bresnahan’s Changing Scout Story,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1996)


“Recently I became aware of your presentation at the August Sunstone Symposium.  I am told you quoted me as suggesting during our meeting that the Church’s position regarding same-gender attraction might follow a course similar to that of the Blacks and the priesthood.  You apparently also reported that I mentioned the General Authorities’ hands were tied by traditions, scripture, and prophetic utterances; and that change could not come quickly.

Please know that I made no such statements.  Homosexual relations are contrary to divine law, as clearly set forth in the scripture sand as taught by latter-day prophets.  Accordingly, my position and that of the Church on this issue is that sexual relations of any kind outside marriage are sin, and that marriage is the lawful union of a man and a woman.  I neither stated nor implied in our meeting that that position is subject to change.…

I am taking this opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding you may have had of my position on this issue and to respectfully request that you cease quoting me to support position s which neither I nor the Church condone.  I am particularly concerned that any printed version of your Sunstone address not perpetuate this misunderstanding.” (M. Russell Ballard to Gary M. Watts, October 3, 1996)


“Realizing the almost incalculable hurt and pain Craig’s excommunication brought into his life, Mildred’s tearful lament to him, ‘I’m so sorry we raised you to be a Mormon, we thought we were doing the right thing,’ still haunts me.

Your letter both flattered and saddened me.  I was flattered that you were even aware of the talk and that you thought it might possibly have a greater audience than simply those in attendance.  It saddened me on two counts: (1) that our recollection of our conversation differs, and (2) that you felt a need to see that the one tiny ray of hope that I thought I had gleaned from the conversation was mistaken.  I’m disappointed that you are so anxious to divorce yourself so completely from the thousands and thousands of your fellow Church members who are hoping and praying for some accommodation in what you acknowledge is a complex issue.

The portion of my talk of which you express concern in your letter reads as follows:

I remember being in Elder Russell Ballard’s office approximately three and a half years ago and expressing to him my own view that the Church didn’t seem to have a very Christian attitude in its handling of its members dealing with same-sex attractions.  He told me at that time that the General Authority’s hands were, to a large measure, tied—by tradition, scripture, and prophetic utterances—and that change did not come quickly.  He did not say that change would come, but he did not say that it would not come, and in fact, he made reference to the Church’s experience with the blacks and pointed out that change was slow but did take place and alluded to the possibility that policy related to homosexuality might follow a similar course.

You will note that I did not quote you directly (I did not record the conversation), but reported only my recollection of the visit.  There should be no dispute that these ideas were, indeed, discussed; only my interpretation of what I thought you said and meant.…

The Church’s Proclamation [on the Family] fails to mention or even acknowledge the existence of the small but significant portion of our church and society. The ongoing effort of the Church to ignore these members, or to force them into the heterosexual norm, guarantees the thousands of other heretofore faithful families like ours will be similarly traumatized. What we perceived to be a lack of accommodation by the Church on this issue suggests that our family and other families dealing with homosexuality will continue to be sacrificed for what is perceived to be the general good of the Church. I suggest to you that you seriously underestimate the magnitude of the problem as well as the hurt and frustration being heaped upon so many of the faithful.” (Gary M. Watts to M. Russell Ballard, October 14, 1996)


“Why would someone like me face the trial of same-gender attraction? I don’t know all the reasons for this weakness of mine…

Finally my wife, having gradually come to a realization of the extent of my sins, reluctantly decided she could no longer put up with my behavior. She told me that I either needed to seek help or leave her and our two beautiful children. Feeling desperate, I checked into a hospital psychiatric ward to see if I could gain some control over my life.

The hospital staff very compassionately help me deal with my childhood pains and my alcohol-related issues, but I soon found out what many professionals think about same gender attraction: you are born with it, and the only way you will ever be happy is to accept. However, my wife and I refused to believe it.… Despite the opposition I faced at the hospital, I felt determined to overcome my iniquities.” (Name Withheld, “Becoming Whole Again,” Ensign, January 1997)


“In a demonstration of common interest in the family, representatives from 41 nations gathered in Prague March 19-22 for the World Congress of Families.

Among participants were official representatives of the Church: Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy and president of the Europe East Area, who was the presiding Church leader of the LDS delegation; Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy and a member of the Pacific Area presidency; Elaine L. Jack, general president of the Relief Society; Lucie L. Didier and Marie K. Hafen.…” (“LDS join world emphasis on families,” GospeLink 2001, March 29, 1997)


“If current levels of divorce, childbearing out of wedlock and family violence continue, said Lynn D. Wardle, experimentation with alternative family structures will continue, even increase, in the coming decades.

On March 19, during the World Congress of Families in Prague, Dr. Wardle, a professor at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University rehearsed, then countered, the legal claims for same-sex marriages. He then concluded: “It is unrealistic to expect any reduction in the rate or size of the population that sees same-sex unions as an alternative to traditional marriage and family if the disintegration of the nuclear family continues at recent rates. “While no state legislature has yet legalized same-sex marriage, Dr. Wardle said, same-sex marriage is the goal toward which a number of smaller developments may point, taking what one advocate says are “baby steps” toward recognizing same-sex unions.

“There is strong support for same-sex marriage in certain subgroups of society,” he explained. Two of the most important are the entertainment media, where same-sex couples are portrayed in appealing perspectives; and academic communities, where tolerance of “gay rights” is a litmus test for academic credibility and where opposition is treated as proof of narrow-mindedness.

“The bias of the general media and academic communities is significant because they shape perceptions,” he said. “And perception of reality . . . provides the basis for the setting or reform of public policy.

“The answer,” continued Dr. Wardle, “is that heterosexual marriages have been given special legal preference because they make uniquely valuable contributions to the state, to society and to individuals.

“Heterosexual marriages have been singled out . . . for preferred status because they are so important and valuable to society and to the stability and continuity of the state.”

Committed heterosexual marriages, he said, provide the best setting into which children can be born and reared. Duel-gender parents show children how to relate to other people, provide the safest and most stable compassionate unit of society, and offer the most secure setting for the sharing of social knowledge and skills.

But there is good news despite all of this, he concluded. Never before have there been more sources of support for marriage, more economic abundance, education, health and knowledge of how to nurture successful marriages.

“Claims for same-sex marriage challenge us and our entire generation to re-examine the importance of the institution of marriage.

“We need that challenge. For too long our societies have taken marriage and the family for granted. . . . With our blessings comes the responsibility to defend marriage and the family.”” (“Failure in home fosters trends to alternatives,” Church News, Week Ending March 29, 1997)


“For years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, owner of BYU, has been outspoken in its opposition to gay marriage, believing it is not a civil-rights issue but rather a protection of traditional marriage.” (“2 law professors square off at BYU over same-sex unions,” Deseret News, October 13, 1998)


“[With reference to his appearance on “Larry King Live”] What is your Church’s attitude toward homosexuality?

… People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign, November, 1998)



[p. 81] “homosexual activity” is listed under the topic “Worthiness” in the section “Missionary Service.”  Under the heading “Homosexual Activity” in the same section is the following:

“If a person has participated in homosexual acts during or after the last three teenage years, he or she will not be considered for full-time missionary service unless the bishop and stake president see strong evidence of lasting repentance and reformation, with at least one year free of transgression.

If a person was victimized or participated in early-age experimentation and has no current indication of homosexual tendencies, he or she may be considered for full-time missionary service.”

[p. 159] In the section “Church Policies” are the following:

“Homosexual Behavior

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members have homosexual thoughts or feelings or engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Leaders also should help them accept responsibility for their thoughts and actions and apply gospel principles in their lives.

In addition to the inspired assistance of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling.  When appropriate, bishops should contact LDS Social Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles.…

Same-Gender Marriages

The Church opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged ‘to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender.’ (First Presidency letter, 1 Feb., 1994)”

(Church Handbook of Instructions. Book 1. Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics, 1998)


“I am also enclosing the executive summary of Colorado Governor Romer’s Commission on the Rights and Responsibilities of Same-Sex Relationships. I find it to be a reasonable recommendation that respects the right of churches to limit marriage to heterosexual couples but recognizes the rights of homosexual couples to legal protections not presently available.

I understand the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage but have a difficult time understanding why the church opposes legal recognition of committed monogamous same-sex relationships as recommended in this report. Is there any common ground? As a parent of gay children I am not ‘hung up’ on the word ‘marriage,’ but feel there are strong and compelling reasons to provide rights and benefits the persons in committed relationships parallel to those currently enjoyed by persons who are married.

I have the sense that current leadership in the church is spending considerable time and money defending the churches position vis-à-vis its gay and lesbian members and not very much time on the fruits of such policies. I sincerely hope that someone is surveying the carnage of so many families like ours that discovered they have children who are same-sex attracted and can’t find a way to reconcile the reality of their lives with current church policy. Perhaps some day, we can all come together and find a way to provide these individuals with the dignity and respect they deserve.” (Gary Watts to Jeffrey R. Holland and Quentin Cook, March 14, 1999)


“Elder Alexander B. Morrison, of the First Quorum of 70, represents the LDS Church on 25 June at the Unitarian-Universalist Assembly. His statement there is as follows…

We further aver that gender is an essential characteristic of premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Same-gender marriages, were such to be sanctioned by the state, would in our view undermine the very purpose of God sanctioned marriage, the rearing of families.” (David Combe compilation, June 25, 1999)


At the onset may I say that debate on the causation of same-gender attraction seems to me to be largely irrelevant in determining public policy or morally acceptable private behavior. The argument that “God made me this way, and that justifies my behavior” flies in the face of personal responsibility for the exercise of agency in behavioral choice.…

If an individual with heterosexual attraction has no opportunity to marry, he or she must remain celibate throughout this life in order to keep God’s commandments. The same is true of those with same-gender attraction, who despite persistent effort cannot overcome that attraction and marry someone of the opposite gender.…

Nor do I doubt for a moment their assertion that they do indeed love their homosexual partner (or partners, since few if any homosexual relationships seem to be characterized by long-term mutual fidelity). “Even a distorted love retains traces of love’s grandeur.” But it is the expression of that love in erotic homosexual behavior which especially displeases God. 

The question invariably arises as to whether persons with same-gender attraction can ever change. While some assert—not on acceptable evidence—that same-gender attraction is immutable and unchangeable, there is good evidence that some individuals have indeed changed to a normal heterosexual lifestyle and thought pattern.…

Be aware of the whisperings of the adversary and keep him out of your life. Do not let him determine how you will behave. He will whisper to you that homosexual behavior is just an “alternative lifestyle.” It is not. Do not fall for the lie that every sexual desire must be expressed, and that to do otherwise is not “natural” or “healthy.” The devil will entice you with the idea that there is no forgiveness for one such as you. There is.…

Do not pressure your child to marry, hoping that this will resolve his or her struggle with same- gender attraction. Marriage, in and of itself, will do little to deal with the challenge. While many persons with same-gender attraction can and have changed, marriage must follow change, not precede it.…” (Alexander B. Morrison, “Some Gospel Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction,” 10th Annual Conference of Evergreen International, Inc., September 16, 2000)


“Ironically, Kimball’s “definitive” statement against homosexuality in The Miracle of Forgiveness came out just as the “Gay liberation movement” gained national attention with the watershed “Stonewall Riots” in New York City, beginning on June 27, 1969.… June 27th is now regarded and celebrated internationally as “Gay Pride Day”.…

The LDS Church responded vociferously to the new homosexual militancy. In March 1970, the First Presidency sent a letter to the church at large, stating that “homosexuals can be assured that in spite of all they may have heard from other sources, they can overcome and return to normal, happy living.”…

Church President Harold B. Lee then delivered a speech on eschatological signs during the Priesthood Meeting of October 1972 General Conference in which he stated,

“I want to warn this great body of priesthood against that great sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, which has been labeled as a sin second only in seriousness to the sin of murder. I speak of the sin of adultery, which, as you know, was the name used by the Master as he referred to unlicensed sexual sins of fornication as well as adultery; and besides this, the equally grievous sin of homosexuality, which seems to be gaining momentum with social acceptance in the Babylon of the world, of which Church members must not be a part.”

The circular letter of 1970 and Lee’s comment of 1972 were but precursors to the more official (and ecclesiastically binding) First Presidency statement of 1973 which declared that “homosexuality in men and women runs counter to…divine objectives and, therefore, is to be avoided and forsaken.” Gays and Lesbians who refused to find their sexuality evil were promised “prompt Church court action.”…

In 1973, Victor L. Brown, Jr. of LDS Social Services wrote the twenty page Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet I for use in counseling Lesbians and Gay men throughout the church. The packet indicated that “an essential part of repentance” was to disclose to Church authorities the names of other homosexuals, in order “to help save others”. The packet also stated that the Lesbian “needs to learn feminine behavior” while the Gay man “needs to learn…what a manly priesthood leader and father does.”…”  (Connell O’Donovan, “’The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’: A Revised History of Homosexuality & Mormonism, 1840-1980,” 2004)


“On September 8, 1975, Latter-day Saint Air Force Sgt. Leonard Phillip Matlovich Jr. appeared on the cover of Time magazine, declaring “I am a Homosexual” to the nation and hurling him into the national spotlight as “poster boy” for Gay rights. In a watershed moment for the Gay rights movement, the Gay Mormon was the first openly Gay person ever to appear on the cover of Time or any other major US news magazine. Matlovich was featured in the magazine because he was suing the US Armed Force for discharging him for being Gay, despite the fact that he had an impeccable record, having served three tours of duty in Vietnam, where he received the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and an Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. Matlovich, initially raised Catholic, had apparently converted to the LDS Church during his tour of duty in Vietnam. He was ordained a Mormon Priest in 1970 and then an Elder on January 19, 1971 while in Vietnam, by W. Brent Hardy.

Although the Time article did not mention that Matlovich was LDS, when the publicity on his case against the Air Force broke, the Mormon Church conducted a series of trials against him.…

After his court victory against the Air Force (which ultimately ended in Matlovich resigning with a large settlement in hand) he moved to San Francisco, and then appeared on the Phil Donahue television show in 1978. On October 12, 1978, “Mat” Matlovich received yet another summons from the Church, this time from the San Francisco Stake President, Jonas J. Heaton of Daly City, to investigate “conduct in violation of the law and order of the Church”; his second excommunication trial was scheduled for November 15. Matlovich was unable to make that trial date and Heaton wrote an identical letter on November 20, 1978, requesting a trial on January 17, 1979. In January 1979, both the California Sentinel and the Bay Area Reporter published stories of how the LDS church was shortly going to excommunicate Matlovich yet again. Metropolitan Community Church Elder James Sandmire, an excommunicated Mormon “high official” said in the media interviews that he had “had seen or heard of hundreds of these cases where gays have either been ‘disfellowshipped’ or ‘excommunicated’” once, but not twice.

President Jonas Heaton also told the reporters that there “is a move to drop the upfront Gay activist because of ‘conduct in violation of the law and order of the church’- namely his homosexuality.” Leonard in turn vowed, “that the attempt to remove him from Mormon rolls will be a media event.” Leonard admitted he “[was] confused on how he [could] be removed twice from the same church. When Heaton was asked about the double excommunication, the official said, ‘This is a private matter within the church – I know a great deal about Mr. Matlovich that I am not going to discuss.’” Matolovich was then excommunicated a second time from the Mormon Church.…” (Connell O’Donovan, “’The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’:  A Revised History of Homosexuality & Mormonism, 1840-1980,” 2004)


“Congratulations to Evergreen International for sponsoring and organizing this 15th annual conference.  It is an honor to be a member of its board. As you know, Evergreen sustains the doctrines and standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without being affiliated with it.…

We do not know whether same gender attraction follows the pattern of any of the congenital or acquired disorders. The ongoing debate about the cause of same gender attraction or whether or not same gender attraction can be cured is irrelevant in the context of true religion. The straight and narrow path leads the right way, regardless of same gender attraction’s cause, or whether or not it can be cured. The right way is very simple. Here it is: 

  • Feelings of attraction toward someone of the same gender should be eliminated if possible or controlled. You did not choose to have these feelings, but you can do something about them. 
  • Homosexual or lesbian erotic thoughts are the consequences of uncontrolled feelings and they are wrong, just as heterosexual erotic thoughts are wrong. They must be stopped! 
  • Homosexual or lesbian behavior is a serious sin, as is heterosexual fornication and adultery. It must be stopped! 

How one responds to feelings is the key. Alma stated that our thoughts will condemn us (Alma 12:14). 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks noted: 

“The words homosexual, lesbian and gay are adjectives to describe thoughts, feelings or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that birth [or some other reason] consigns a person to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.”…

The claim, “I was born that way” does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. Although you did not choose to have these feelings, you are free how to respond.…

We must not change God-given patterns of celestial behavior because of a congenital or acquired disorder.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that homosexuality is curable and forgivable.  [Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 82] Though difficult, same gender attraction is no different than many other problems people have.…

Can individuals struggling with some same gender attraction be cured? “With God nothing should be impossible” (Luke 1:37). It really doesn’t matter, however, whether or not same gender attraction can be cured. The right course of action remains the same: eliminate or diminish same sex attraction.…

In the day of resurrection you will have normal affections and be attracted to the opposite sex.”  (James O. Mason, “The Worth of a Soul is Great,” Evergreen International 15th Annual Conference, September 17, 2005)


“In all of my years in the church I have never heard one positive comment from you and other church leaders about gay people across the pulpit other than the message that we love them, as long as they look and act heterosexual.” (Gary Watts to Jeffrey R. Holland, Quentin L. Cook, Cecil O. Samuelson, and Rolfe Kerr, July 23, 2006)


“In the interview with the Public Affairs department Elder Oaks goes so far as to suggest that parents not welcome their gay children’s partner into their home. ‘Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your partnership.’ It is hard for me to imagine such ‘anti-family’ advice from a ‘pro-family’ church.” (Gary Watts to Jeffrey R. Holland, Quentin L. Cook, Cecil O. Samuelson, and Rolfe Kerr, November 5, 2006)


“[p. 110] When a Disciplinary Council Is Mandatory…

Serious Transgression While Holding a Prominent Church Position … homosexual relations.…

[p. 187] Homosexual Behavior

… Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.  Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.…

When appropriate, bishops should contact LDS Family Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles.…

Same-Gender Marriages

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.  The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged ‘to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender.’

As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to God’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation [p. 188] are to be exercised only between a man and a woman who are lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.

While opposing same-gender marriage, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.” (Church Handbook of Instructions. Book 1. Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics, 2006)


“Mormons also believe in two additional sets of allegedly ancient scripture, The Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price, and in one set of modern scriptures (mainly revelations from God received by Joseph Smith) called The Doctrine and Covenants.  In these several hundred pages of additional Mormon revelations that guide the modern church, not only is no causality for homosexuality found, in fact there is no mention of homosexuality whatsoever  (or archaic terms like sodomy or even the “crime against nature”).…

From 1964 until September 2006, Mormon officials have delivered more than one hundred speeches and published dozens of pamphlets on homosexuality; nearly fifty of those published statements offer a different – and often confusing or even contradictory – cause or causes of homosexuality.… Especially in the past forty years, one LDS authority or another has stated a cause with divine, authoritative certainty – yet all attempts at “reorientation”, cures, therapy, etc. have yielded only scattered and dubious results at the very best.  Ironically Boyd Packer, one of the most vociferously homophobic of all Mormon apostles who has promoted a mass of confusing causes of homosexuality, in 1990 was the first to admit that Mormon authorities might not understand homosexuality at all.

Since George Q. Cannon’s 1879 implication of monogamy as the cause for the “crime against nature”, over thirty causes (or “non-causes” – statements of what does not cause it) of homosexuality have been identified by various LDS authorities, as revealed in official and semi-official LDS publications.  They are listed below in order of the number of their occurrences within the 48 published statements I have found: 

Not genetics, biology, or heredity (11 times)

Parental failure (10)

Disease/Contagion (6)

Not known (5)

Satanic influence (5)

Biology (4)

Environment (4)

Pornography (4)

Combination of several factors (3)

Masturbation (3)

Molestation in childhood (3)

Free agency (2)

Selfishness (2)

Abnormal, transgressive affliction (1)

Aggressive acts (1)

Avoiding domesticity (1)

Constitutional predisposition (1)

Curiosity (1)

Ignoring sex roles (1)

Learned behavior (1)

Monogamy (1)

Peer rejection (1)

Physical perversion (1)

Powerful inclination (1)

Proselyting (1)

Search for psychosexual role (1)

Seductive fathers (1)

Social permissiveness (1)

Speaking about it (1)

Unchecked appetites (1)

Unconscious biological compulsions (1)…

(Connell O’Donovan, “The Etiology of Homosexuality from Authoritative Latter-day Saint Perspectives, 1879-2006,” November 2006)


“Some people have been abused during the early years of life or have engaged in sexual experimentation at a young age.  If this has happened to you, please understand that abuse by others or youthful experiences should not create a present sense of guilt, unworthiness, or rejection by God or His Church.  Innocent mischief early in life does not predispose a youth toward same-gender attraction as an adult.” (God Loveth His Children, July 2007, p. 10)


“An LDS pamphlet about same-sex attraction is a step in the right direction but still will be hurtful to gay youths, say local gay activists.

‘The part that’s so difficult for me is that the subject matter is human beings who have a heart and a soul,’ says Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center. ‘If your choice is to toe the line or be cast out of the only thing you know and the thing your parents live for, it can leave you desperate. It’s why we have such a high suicide rate.’

The pamphlet, ‘God Loveth His Children,’ was posted this week on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Web site.  It acknowledges that some people may continue to have same-sex attractions ‘in this life’ and states that ‘no member of the Church should ever be intolerant.’ But the pamphlet emphasizes that acting on same-sex attractions is a sin.” (Elaine Jarvik, “Criticism, praise for LDS pamphlet,” Deseret News, July 28, 2007)


“The LDS Church’s new pamphlet on homosexuality posted this week on the church’s Web site is an improvement on the last three, but doesn’t go far enough in embracing those with same-sex attractions, a longtime advocate for gay Mormons said Friday.…

The LDS Church’s first such pamphlet was published in 1974 and suggested that homosexuality was ‘evil’ and ‘blamed parents for their children’s homosexuality,’ said Watts, a Mormon father who has a gay son and lesbian daughter among his six children.

The 1983 revision de-emphasized the ‘psycho-social causes’ of homosexuality, he said, and the 1992 version eliminated parental blame altogether, pointing to the possibility of biological factors. By not speculating on causes, the new pamphlet shows ‘incremental progress,’ he said.

To Watts, however, the piece’s negatives far outweigh its positives.

It implies that those who are able to change their orientation do so through faith and self-mastery, and are therefore superior to those who don’t.

‘If I’m a gay guy who’s struggled for 10 years to change and can’t, I’m going to ask: what’s wrong with me?’ Watts said.…

Last week, the LDS Church News published several stories of anonymous Mormon men who had life-long homosexual feelings. Though several of them were married to women, the church no longer officially encourages homosexual men to marry women as a way to ‘solve their problem.’

The most recent pamphlet does not recommend that those with same-sex attraction marry, either.…

‘God Loveth His Children,’ recommends that homosexuals continue to be active in the church, contributing money and time.

Watts thinks that is unrealistic, given the fact that up to 90 percent of gay Mormons leave the church.

‘It is because [LDS leaders] are setting up an impossible situation for gays – either be celibate or change,” Watts said. “Until they can figure out a way to sanction a faithful same-sex relationship, the problem will continue.’” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Church revises pamphlet on gays,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 28, 2007)


“At the same time, the pamphlet states that the church does not know what causes same-sex attractions, but that sexual abuse and sexual experimentation in childhood are responsible.…

Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons welcomed what they called a ‘softening’ of the church’s position in God Loveth His Children, which is gentler in its treatment of gays and lesbians than previous publications which often equated gay sex with murder and drug addictions.…” (“LDS Church Releases New Gay Pamphlet,” Q Salt Lake, August 16, 2007, p. 9)


“In its newest document, God Loveth His Children, found on the LDS church website, rather than calling out that homosexuality is an abomination is done in the past, the new rhetoric is ‘our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life,’ implying to me that all will be made heterosexual instantly after one dies. Personally, I think this is scripturally unfounded and just another fallback to rationalize their moral agenda. Interestingly, the article further acknowledges that ‘others may not be free of this challenge in this life.’ In other words, the feelings of homosexuality do not go away in this life. This is an extraordinary change from decades of abusive, hurtful language that has been used to convince many of us that we should change to becoming heterosexual.” (Mike Green, Letter to the Editor, Q Salt Lake, August 16, 2007, p. 12)


“The Mormon church has quietly moved further from defining homosexuality as evil and the result of faulty parenting.

An unheralded new church publication, ‘God Loveth His Children,’ says gay feelings are neither learned nor chosen, and it counsels against rejecting a gay child.…

It repeatedly warns against feelings of guilt: ‘Attractions alone do not make you unworthy. If you avoid immoral thoughts and actions, you have not transgressed even if you feel such an attraction.’

It also says: ‘The Lord’s command to ‘forgive all men’ includes the requirement to forgive yourself.’

Spokesmen for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not say what led the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency — the two highest governing bodies of the Church — to publish the pamphlet at the end of July.…

A 1974 church pamphlet excoriated homosexuality as evil and castigated parents of gays for having raised their children poorly. By 1992, a new teaching suggested that biological factors could be at work.…

The church still expects gays to remain celibate. If they do, they will find themselves imbued with heterosexual feelings in the hereafter, which is peopled with families including a mother, a father and children, the document says.…

Affirmation, a support organization for gay Mormons, ‘welcomes any change,’ said executive director Olin Thomas. ‘I’ve never before seen forgiveness for youthful indiscretions experienced at a young age.’…

It ‘certainly has kinder language’ than past teachings, said Walnut Creek writer Carol Lynn Pearson, whose seminal work about her late, gay husband, ‘Good-bye, I Love You,’ opened up an emotional conversation within the Mormon community.

She praised the pamphlet’s anonymous authors for spelling out that gay love ‘is much more than lust gone amuck.’

But she strongly criticized the claim that with individual effort, faith and ‘reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement’ has freed some Mormons from homosexuality.

That leaves ‘in despair those who have made the utmost effort without results, whose hands are bloodied from beating against a closed door,’ she said.

She connects two sets of data that to her suggest that gays account for as many as 30 percent of suicides among 15- to 24-year-olds in Utah.” (Rebecca Rosen Lum, “Mormon church changes your is down for a while not you stance on homosexuality,” www.InsideBayArea.com, August 20, 2007)


“President Hinckley has stated that homosexuals are welcome in the church so long as they do not engage in homosexual behavior or pursue a same-sex relationship. I am glad that the church has progressed to the extent of acknowledging that homosexual human beings exist in the church. He has stated multiple times ‘Marriage should not be viewed as a way to resolve homosexual problems.’ This is one official statement that I agree with completely. The Doctrine and Covenants clearly defines that a person must enter into the covenants of eternal marriage in order to obtain the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom. As I consider these two injunctions together, a large discrepancy exists that I am unable to reconcile. A prophet tells me that I should not marry, for I am a homosexual. Consequently, I have already eliminated myself from the highest kingdom for being unmarried.  In essence, I am automatically damned for being a homosexual, regardless of my faith in Jesus Christ or my good works.  Thousands of times have I asked myself, would a fair and just god impose such an unreasonable contradiction?” (Clark C. Pingree, “Stages of Trepidation,” Reunion: The Family Fellowship Newsletter, Fall 2007, p. 3)


“Just days after this week’s Evergreen International conference ends, the LDS Church will publish another look at same-sex attraction.

Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, in the October issue of Ensign, the church’s official magazine, will discuss the church’s perspective on several topics to be explored Friday and Saturday at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building by members of Evergreen, an outreach organization for Mormons dealing with homosexuality.…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Church to publish new look at same-sex attraction,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 18, 2007)


“…same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is—just as it would be with heterosexual feelings…

Although I believe members are eager to extend compassion to those different from themselves, it is human nature that when confronted with a situation we don’t understand, we tend to withdraw. This is particularly true of same-gender attraction. We have so little reliable information about it that those wanting to help are left feeling a bit unsteady.…

Through the exercise of faith, individual effort, and reliance upon the power of the Atonement, some may overcome same-gender attraction in mortality and marry. Others, however, may never be free of same-gender attraction in this life.…

While same-gender attraction is real, there must be no physical expression of this attraction. The desire for physical gratification does not authorize immorality by anyone.…

In doing so, recognize that marriage is not an all-purpose solution. Same-gender attractions run deep, and trying to force a heterosexual relationship is not likely to change them. We are all thrilled when some who struggle with these feelings are able to marry, raise children, and achieve family happiness. But other attempts have resulted in broken hearts and broken homes.…” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction,” Ensign, October 2007)


“Like many gay Mormons, [Lester] Leavitt tried to ignore his sexuality and married a woman. Last year, he was excommunicated after telling church authorities he was attracted to men, even though he was faithful to his wife and wanted to stay married.

Six months later, to Leavitt’s surprise, the church vacated the excommunication. Not long after, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued ‘God Loveth His Children,’ a treatise that said same-sex attractions themselves are not sinful, even though homosexual activity is.…

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said the document isn’t a shift necessarily, but a sign that Mormon leaders are talking a lot more about homosexuality.  That, she said, is ‘a positive step.’…

‘[Leavitt] The church told me, and everyone like me, that this was a social construct, and that if you got married (you would be attracted to women).  I was 44 years old and it hadn’t gone away,’ he said.…”  (Sarah More McCann, ‘Gay Mormons See a Subtle Shift in Church Teaching,” Religion News Service, November 5, 2007)


“[p. 3] [Michael] Quinn places the church’s transition to homophobia in the 1950s, when the federal government defined homosexuality as a matter of national security.…

[p. 23] As the Kinsey studies challenged the consensus that homosexuality was wrong and addressed the issue from a position of moral complexity, some LDS leaders feared educators would not toe a reliably conservative line and that sex education would be a Trojan horse for more permissive views. In 1952, J. Reuben Clark of the LDS Church’s First Presidency voiced Mormon opposition to formal sex education at the Annual General Relief Society Conference. A former undersecretary of state, Clark gave one of the church’s rare public statements about homosexuality at a time when the State Department systematically purged homosexuals as security risks. While the Holmes survey saw cautionary value in teaching about ‘sexual perversion,’ Clark cited homosexuality as a reason to oppose formal sex education. In his speech ‘Home and the Building of Home Life’ Clark condemned ‘the person who teaches or condones the crimes for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. We have coined a softer name for them than came from old: we now speak of homosexuality which, it is tragic to say, is found among both sexes.’…

[p. 44] Thus, when [Evan] Thompson [pseudonym] consulted LDS Apostle Mark E. Petersen about his homosexuality, the latter advised him to ‘distract’ himself with his music and other interests.…

[p. 77] [W. Cleon] Skousen felt a particular contempt for homosexuals and other ‘moral perverts,’ undoubtedly inculcated during his sixteen years as an F.B.I, investigator and his tutelage under Hoover, whose strident attacks against ‘sexual perverts’ fed speculation about his own homosexuality. Skousen expressed ‘shock and disbelief at recommendations made during a convention of the American Society of Criminology that laws prohibiting private, consensual homosexuality be abolished. His child-rearing volume, So You Want to Raise a Boy, blamed over-attentive mothers for male homosexuality… [p. 78] [Skousen wrote] ‘Aren’t some people born homosexuals? This is so rare that whenever a case occurs it is considered a medical phenomenon.…’

[p. 85] Skousen was a pivotal figure, embodying both the national security state and an uncompromising, conservative brand of Mormonism. His administration was a harbinger of the LDS Church’s hardening stance toward homosexuality, which reached a fever pitch during the 1960s.…

[p. 89] This chapter discusses how the church’s opposition to homosexuality grew and became more elaborate as gays gained greater visibility in the 1960s. In contrast to church leaders’ infrequent references to homosexuality in the 1950s, which relied heavily on Biblical verse, the exhortations of the ’60s assumed an urgent tone and described homosexuality in its modern context to convey a clear and present danger. In addition, church pronouncements of the 1960s selectively employed social science literature to pathologize homosexuality as a treatable illness and document its deleterious consequences for family life.…

[p. 90] By the early 1960s, LDS leaders treated homosexuality less as an abstraction addressed through scripture and more as a modern, real-life phenomenon requiring vigilance and intervention.…

[p. 92] Most disturbing for church leaders was homosexuality’s transformation from a private vice to a social phenomenon. In particular, they feared homosexuality becoming less susceptible to the private counsels of bishops and others entrusted to handle it case by case. 

In a 1962 speech at the BYU Institute of Religion, Elder Harold B. Lee illustrated sin and redemption through the case of a young woman who was ‘headed along the homosexual trail.’ In his opinion, ‘as much as we deplore the ugliness of that word (homosexual), it is among us, both among boys and girls, perhaps to a greater extent than we hardly realize.’ Although the young woman reluctantly sought his counsel at the urging of her parents, Lee claimed victory in dissuading her from committing ‘the unpardonable sin.’ As evidence of this, he described her humility in beseeching God, ‘Please Heavenly Father, you know that I want to be a wife, and I want to be a mother, help me to be a normal, natural woman.’ Lee considered it his duty to ‘fan the flame that was flickering into a full burning desire to be a true woman.’

[p. 93] Following a relative silence about homosexuality during the 1940s and ’50s, the church’s representation of homosexuality as a special type of sin in the 1960s stunned gay men who grew up feeling no remorse over it.… reflecting an early internalization of the church’s well-publicized homophobia. By contrast, Wayne Hewitt grew up in the 1950s believing there was nothing wrong with homosexual activity since he ‘wasn’t getting someone pregnant’ and Bill Cloward ‘didn’t really feel any guilt about it until mission age.’ For them, the shift from perceiving premarital intercourse as worse than homosexuality to the church’s view of homosexuality as ‘worse than heterosexual immorality…a filthy and unnatural habit’ seemed especially jarring.…

[p. 94] Thus, when bishops and others entrusted with pastoral care encountered homosexual behavior ‘in its early stages’ among young people, they treated it as a temporary condition that they could control. Such an approach foreshadowed the LDS Church’s tactic in recent years of describing homosexual Mormons as ‘same-sex attracted’ rather than ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ suggesting a passing phase rather than a way of being.…

[p. 95] Focusing on behavior rather than a stable identity implied choice and moral responsibility for one’s actions, but also the church’s ability to control homosexuality and rehabilitate those who faltered.…

[p. 96] I totally thought that even loving another man or having sex with him was apart from what people do, which is get married and so forth. And interestingly enough, I don’t think I ever thought I would have to stop doing that either. I just thought I would get married because that’s what you do….So this was 1964, and I’m already very acquainted with the fact that I want to have sex with men, but not very acquainted with how the LDS Church felt about that, because it had always been a very private thing that you didn’t talk about. (Pace [pseudonym] interview)…

[p. 97] Similarly, Wayne Hewitt recalled ‘the LDS teachings growing up that you don’t have sex with a woman ’till you’re married,’ but ‘nothing was ever said about having sex with a man.’…

[p. 118] Mission presidents served ‘in loco parentis’ with a duty to safeguard the church’s standards abroad but like their military counterparts, sometimes hesitated to discharge otherwise productive homosexual men. Wayne Hewitt completed his mission despite lapses such as having sex with one companion and ‘snuggling up against the ones he really liked’ in their shared beds. His mission president responded with forbearance on account of Wayne’s success in winning converts: ‘You’re one of the best missionaries we have, you produce no matter where I send you, but Elder White is very uncomfortable sleeping with you, so I want you to sleep on the sofa. I could send you home and medically discharge you, but you’re too invaluable for me to do that.’…

[p. 121] A 1958 article in the church’s Relief Society Magazine by El Ray Christensen described single children as a reproach to parents, who ‘will receive condemnation on their heads if their children do not learn the correct…principle of eternal marriage.… [El Ray Christiansen, ‘Whom and Where Will You Marry?’ Relief Society Magazine, 45(October 1958):144-8]

[p. 137] When Rick confessed to his bishop at his wife’s insistence, he did so in a spirit of cooperation: As an employee at the church’s headquarters and father of four, his livelihood and status as provider were at stake. Sensing the vulnerability of his situation, church officials [p. 138] employed the military tactic of stringing him along on the possibility of keeping his job and retaining his church membership in exchange for information about other homosexuals: 

They were on a witch hunt and they wanted to purge the Church Office Building of homosexuals, so they called me into a church court, and spent six hours interrogating me with the purpose of gathering names. My first question when they started doing that was, ‘What do you want them for?’ and the stake president said, ‘So that we can get in touch with their bishops and get them help if they need it.’ So I started off giving them names of people where I knew the bishop already knew…and it seemed like it wouldn’t stop until I had given them every name, or they were after one name and it was Jerry, the person I was in love with, I wouldn’t give it to them. I went hoping to keep my job, I had four sons and a family to support and I was scared shitless about whether I could keep my job or not. 

The process continued when he reported for work, with security guards at the church offices escorting him to every department for the purpose of identifying other homosexuals from employee photographs. Rick later discovered that the employees he named were promptly fired, and church officials rewarded his cooperation with excommunication and loss of his own job 

[p. 211] In addition, Harold Christensen’s studies revealed that Mormons preferred a ‘temptation-reduced environment’ in which ‘positive thinking’ and isolation from gay life substituted avoidance for engagement. Thus, the LDS Welfare Services Packet advised struggling homosexuals to flee from other gays, even if it contradicted their responsibility to ‘guide those who stumbled’ since ‘a sympathetic effort to work with other homosexuals to  ‘help’ them is especially dangerous.’…

(Douglas A. Winkler, “Lavender Sons of Zion: A History of Gay Men in Salt Lake City, 1950-79,” PhD Dissertation, University of Utah, May 2008)


“We got to talking about what some of the general authorities have said or done, and the name of Jeffrey Holland came up.  Kendall [Wilcox] said that he had personally spoken to two young men who are gay, each of whom individually told him that they had spoken to Elder Holland, who had told them, ‘Do what brings you peace and joy in this life.  I hope you can find that in the church, but the church is not for everyone.’  He also said that he could foresee a time when the church could allow ‘marriage for time’ between a gay couple.  He said that one of these two young men was the grandson of a general authority who had passed away, that before his death he asked Elder Holland to serve as grandfather and special friend to his grandson.  I asked if he could tell me who that general authority was, and he said yes, it was Neal Maxwell.  I then recalled that only a couple of weeks ago my cousin Kim Bateman’s boy Adam had emailed me to ask if I knew of the YouTube videos (on mormonsformarriage) made by his friend Kimball Sanders, who is a grandson to Neal Maxwell.” (Carol Lynn Pearson diary, December 7, 2008)


“[Diane Ovaitt] From knowing my brother I had strong suspicions that sexual preference is not a choice for most people. If I had any lingering doubts, they were completely erased as I held my sobbing teenager that night in the kitchen, as he chanted over and over’ I just want to be normal, go on a mission, get married, like everyone else’ And all I could think of was, ‘what kid in their right mind would choose ridicule over acceptance, would choose mockery over admiration, would choose to be a pariah in his own religious community?’…

[Linda Schweidel, Berkeley Ward] We divorced, and for a long time afterwards remained friendly.  It was a very difficult time and I felt very conflicted.  On the one hand I still loved him and wanted to help him.  On the other he had cheated on me, and with a man, and that was very weird.  It took a long time and some counseling, but eventually I came to terms with it.  In subsequent conversations, I asked him lots of questions, including when he knew he was gay.  This was tricky, right?  But he was honest with me.  He said he knew from his earliest memories that he was different; that he had felt physically attracted to men.  These feelings were always associated with horrible guilt and shame.  It was the last thing in the world he wanted to acknowledge.  He didn’t want it to be true.  He thought he could change it.  He thought if he went on a mission, God would reward him with heterosexuality.  That didn’t happen.  Then he thought if he got married, he would change.  That obviously didn’t work either.  He wanted to do what was right and was committed to staying in the church.  He felt he had no hope of happiness or success in this life if he left it.  It was only after 8 years of marriage that he realized that his feelings were not going away and he had to acknowledge that part of himself.  There was no place for him to be ‘authentic’ within the church and so he left.

This was a guy who had done absolutely everything asked of him – by his parents and by the church – everything he was supposed to do, when he was supposed to do it – his entire life.  He was a golden child, who had never caused his parents a single moment’s worry or concern.  He was extremely bright, conscientious, honest, dependable, hardworking and honorable in every way.   But deep down he was tormented and convinced that he was unworthy and was going to hell simply for feeling what he felt.”  (Carol Lynn Pearson, “On the Important Work in the Oakland Stake Toward Better Understanding and Loving Our Gay Brothers and Sisters,” www.clpearson.com/oaklandstake.htm, September 2009)


[Mitch Mayne] “Being honest about who I am has seldom led to a positive outcome. In my home, my Father told me that my being gay was his ultimate fear, and my ultimate failure. My mother told me it would have been better for her if I’d been born dead than gay. Growing up, I was scorned on the playground, and ridiculed and bullied in the classroom. I have been fired from jobs because I am gay. In the past, I have been told by Church leaders that I am unworthy of ever taking the Sacrament. I have been told that I will never work with the youth of the Church. I have been told in meetings that it is because of people like me that the AIDS pandemic has come upon the Earth—that my sins are bringing punishment upon the wicked and the sinless alike.…” (“Oakland presentations: Mitch Mayne statement,” Salt Lake Tribune, September 6, 2009)


“[p. 88] Shortly before Spencer became president, the Priesthood Bulletin, a publication of official announcements and policies between editions of the General Handbook of Instructions, defined homosexual activity as ‘sin in the same degree as adultery and fornication’ and specified that ‘the only acceptable sexual relationship occurs within the family between a husband and a wife.’” (Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Working Draft, Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2009)

“[p. 90] Advocates insisted that homosexuality is an identity—inborn, natural, and hence beyond moral judgment—and that sexual expression of that nature is as acceptable as in the marriage relationship. The Church insisted, to the contrary, that homosexuality is unnatural and that in any event homosexuals’ behavior was as subject to the control of the will as the behavior of heterosexuals.” (Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Working Draft, Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2009)


“Kors: I understand the film [‘8: The Mormon Proposition’] started out as a look at Utah’s extraordinary number of homeless gay youths, kids kicked out of their families for coming out.

Black: Yeah, a lot of the homeless youths are gay. The suicide rate for gay kids is also four times that of heterosexual kids — more than eight times if they’re rejected by their families. I’m on the board of the Trevor Project, which runs a helpline for gay kids in crisis. We’re a safety net. And a lot of these teens, they need help immediately. … You have to understand: it was really hard growing up. I knew I was gay. We’d go to church on Sundays, and beamed in every Sunday was President [of the Mormon Church Spencer W.] Kimball, the seer, the one who knows — who speaks the word directly for the Lord — and he would tell us how next to the sin of murder is the sin of impurity: homosexuality. When you’re told from the age of 8 that you’re criminal, you’re wrong in God’s eyes, that breaks your spirit. A gay boy isn’t going to be able to heal from that without help.

Kors: Were you ever suicidal?

Black: Oh, sure. (Black pauses, laughs.) I don’t mean to say it so casually. It’s just, the majority of gay teens go through that suicidal stage. With this recent fight over Prop. 8, I found myself thinking back to those times, those nights where you sit and debate whether life is worth living. You’re told that you’re here to do good in God’s eyes. But then you’re told your very nature is evil. It’s very isolating. This thing that’s inherent in you dooms you. So then, why is life worth living? It’s a logical progression.” (Joshua Kors, ‘Oscar Winner Dustin Lance Black on Mormonism, Prop 8, Sarah Palin and the Challenges of Being Gay,’ HuffPost Politics, August 26, 2010)


“A newly published compilation of LDS guidelines — used by all church leaders worldwide when dealing with their members — has softened the language about gay Mormons.

The book, known as the Church Handbook of Instructions, lays out the Utah-based faith’s policies on everything from baptism to running a worship service to counseling troubled marriage partners.

The updated reference book is scheduled to be presented to thousands of LDS lay leaders in a giant, televised training session Saturday. Any language changes, then, will set the tone for church interactions for years to come.…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Updated LDS handbook softens language on gays,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 11, 2010)


“11/12/2010: A new version of the Church Handbook of Instructions (in two volumes) is released. Language surrounding same-sex marriage and homosexuality is somewhat modified. Notably, the following language from a First Presidency letter from February 1994 is removed completely:

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged ‘to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender.’” 

(Mormons for Marriage timeline)


[p. 28] Homosexual Activity

A candidate who has participated in homosexual activity during or after the last three teenage years will not normally be considered for missionary service, especially if the person has participated in such activities with several partners or with one partner over an extended period of time.

In rare cases the stake president may submit a recommendation that the First Presidency [p. 29] consider an exception if there is strong evidence of genuine repentance and reformation and if the candidate has been free of transgression for a sufficient period of time.  This period of repentance should be at least one year and may be as long as three years if the acts occurred several times or over an extended time or if the person was the aggressor. Such a recommendation is submitted through the Missionary Department for the consideration of the First Presidency.…

[p. 56] Serious Transgression

Formal Church discipline may be necessary for any member who commits a serious transgression. As used here, serious transgression is defined as … homosexual relations…

[p. 63] Violation of Covenants

If a transgressor has been endowed, he has made covenants to live a higher standard of behavior than applies to those who have not been endowed. Violating these covenants magnifies the seriousness of the transgression. Therefore, endowed persons who commit adultery or fornication (including homosexual relations) are subject to stern Church discipline.…

[p. 71] Church headquarters will automatically annotate a person’s membership record in any of the following situations:…

…repeated homosexual activities (by adults)…

[p. 143] Authorization from the mission president is required before a prospective convert may be baptized and confirmed if the person…

…Has committed a homosexual transgression… [BUT NOT A HETEROSEXUAL TRANGRESSION]

[p. 165] Homosexual Behavior and Same-Gender Attraction

Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

If members engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them to have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth.

While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.

If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances.

When counseling members who have same-gender attraction, stake presidents and bishops may refer to the booklet God Loveth His Children.

In addition to the inspired help of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling. In the United States and Canada, stake presidents and bishops may contact LDS Family Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles. Outside the United States and Canada, stake presidents may contact the Area Presidency for guidance.…

[p. 166] Same-Gender Marriages

As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.…”

(Church Handbook of Instructions. Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops, 2010. Note that the new policy on LGBT was released on November 12, 2010.)


“I mourned for my mom, who wanted so much to do the right thing and keep me safe and yet, without the resources to understand and support me, instead told me it would have been better for her if I had been born dead than gay.…” (Mitch Mayne, “A Way Out of Danger for Mormon Youth,” Advocate, June 14, 2012)


“[p. 608] This Article is about the fear of the queer child. The simplest version of this fear is the claim that exposing children to homosexuality will ‘turn’ them into homosexuals,1 but the fear is more refined, varied, and capacious than this terminology suggests. It includes the fears that exposing children to homosexuality and gender variance will make them more likely to develop homosexual desires, engage in homosexual acts, form homosexual relationships, deviate from traditional gender norms, or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In one form or another, these are all fears of the queer child.…

The Article shows that although the fear of the queer child is thousands of years old, it has been subtly transformed in the last fifty years. For centuries, the fear had been articulated almost exclusively in terms of seduction—as the claim that children could be sexually initiated into queerness by engaging in [609] homosexual activity with adults.…

[639] The Backlash Begins 

The modern LGBT movement is typically dated to the Stonewall riots of June 29, 1969, when gay and transgender bar patrons responded to a police raid by resisting arrest, sparking a series of public protests. In the wake of these demonstrations, the gay liberation movement rapidly organized and mobilized; within the next decade, the cause began to make remarkable gains. In 1972, East Lansing, Michigan passed the country’s first law prohibiting discrimination based on ‘affectional or sexual preference.’ In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed the diagnosis of ‘homosexuality’ from the DSM, indicating that psychologists should no longer treat homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 1975, the U.S. Civil Service Commission adopted a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual preference. By 1977, sodomy laws had been repealed in nineteen states and anti-discrimination ordinances had been adopted in more than forty municipalities across the United States.…

[644] By the time Rehnquist’s dissent was published, Anita Bryant’s warnings about ‘homosexual recruitment’ were already national news. On January 18, 1977, Dade County, Florida had adopted a local ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on ‘sexual and affectional preference’ [645] in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In response, Bryant launched the ‘Save Our Children’ campaign, an organized effort to repeal the ordinance by popular referendum. In the annals of the LGBT movement, Bryant’s campaign stands out as the clearest example of how opponents have invoked the fear of the queer child to frame the country’s debates over LGBT rights. In addition, it marks the moment in which the opposition’s new fear of indoctrination was nationalized and popularized. In the years that followed, this rhetoric gradually displaced the fear of seduction as a primary justification for anti-LGBT policies.

The twin pillars of Bryant’s campaign were her repeated claims of ‘homosexual recruitment’ and her specific focus on the vulnerability of children to the influence of openly gay teachers. In the campaign’s opening press conference, Bryant held up a pamphlet on homosexuality that she claimed gay teachers had been distributing at local high schools.157 In a series of media appearances, she repeatedly argued that ‘because homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit.’158 Playing upon a national frenzy about ‘child pornography rings,’ the campaign produced a series of newspaper advertisements that sought to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia. In these ads, the campaign displayed slogans like, ‘Are Homosexuals Trying To Recruit Our Children?’ and ‘There Is No Human Right To Corrupt Our Children’ in bold print, above collages of old newspaper headlines in which men were accused of luring young boys into pornography and prostitution networks.…

[646] The Save Our Children campaign was astonishingly successful. Only six months after the county’s antidiscrimination ordinance was passed, it was repealed by voters in a two-to-one landslide. The next day, the Florida Legislature passed the country’s first law banning any ‘homosexual’ person from adopting a child.…

[647] Bryant’s campaign marked the beginning of a religious conservative backlash against the LGBT movement.…” (Clifford J. Rosky, “Fear of the Queer Child,” Buffalo Law Review 61(3):608-97, May 2013)


“Just for fun, I pulled out of my file a booklet published by the LDS Church in 1973 entitled, ‘Homosexuality.’ It is subtitled, ‘Welfare Services Packet 1,’ has the imprimatur of the First Presidency and was sent to all Stake Presidents and Bishops in the Church. 

I thought it would be interesting to compare some of the statements in the 1973 packet with the recently produced website entitled, ‘Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction.’ 

The 1973 packet states rather unequivocally ‘homosexuality is a sin, is a learned behavior (not inborn) and can be stopped.’ (Page 4) 

It goes on to indicate that its origin may be ‘secondary to molestation’ … ‘experimentation in childhood that leads to habits that are at first physical, but later become deeply emotional’ and cites the now outmoded traditional explanation of homosexuality of ‘a domineering mother and a passive father.’ (Pages 4-5) 

It states ‘it is inconceivable that the Lord would indicate that the ultimate goal for man is eternal family life and then – as some involved in homosexuality claim – permit them to be born with desires and inclinations contrary to that eternal plan.’ (Page 6) 

In a section entitled ‘Attitudes’ it states: ‘An attitude of stiffneckedness and rebellion is almost always a clear indication of the need to be sternly disciplined, even to excommunication so that others are not contaminated by unclean habits. (Page 9) 

Under a section entitled ‘Dating’ leaders are encouraged to ‘instruct and help these few young people in their responsibilities to prepare for marriage.’ (Page 12) 

The section entitled ‘Professionals’ states ‘an active professional Latter-day Saint counselor with the necessary blend of gospel background and professional skills can help. Without the gospel background, the professional might not deal with homosexuality in a manner pleasing to the Lord.’ (Page 16) 

Under ‘Helping Steps’ we learn that ‘homosexuality is not a sickness that can be easily cured by medicine or a vaccination. It is a learned habit that can be repented of and controlled by learning other ways of life that are healthier and righteous.’ (Page 18) 

The packet concludes ‘There is no place in God’s Church for those who persist in vile behavior. There is a place for those who present themselves humbly and contritely before the Lord and his common judges for the purpose of penitent change.’ (Page 20)…” (Gary Watts, “The LDS Church’s Evolution on Homosexuality,” Reunion: The Family Fellowship Newsletter, Summer 2013)


“October 1954: [J. Reuben] Clark speaks to the priesthood session and tells those in the congregation to avoid ‘that filthy crime of homosexuality.’ His use of the word ‘crime’ shows the expanding definition of homosexuality within Mormonism in the 1950s. (Conference Report, October 1954, p. 79)…

May 21, 1959: Executive committee of Church Board of Education discusses ‘the growing problem in our society of homosexuality.’ Spencer W. Kimball reports that David O. McKay had said ‘that in his view homosexuality was worse than heterosexual immorality, that it is a filthy and unnatural habit.’ (Ernest L. Wilkinson journal, May 21, 1959)…

September 12, 1962: Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of BYU, met with BYU general counsel Clyde Sandgren, the new Dean of Students, J. Elliott Cameron, and Apostle Spencer Kimball and Mark E Petersen ‘on the question of homosexuals who might possibly be part of the student body.’ They developed a cooperative system where Mormon General Authorities and other Church administrators would give BYU any information they obtained about homosexuals on campus and BYU would give Church administrators information about homosexual church members. They decide ‘as a general policy that no one will be admitted as a student at the BYU whom we have convincing evidence is a homosexual.’ (Ernest L. Wilkinson journal, September 12, 1962)…” (Seth Anderson, “Timeline of Mormon Thinking About Homosexuality,” NoMoreStrangers.org, December 8, 2013)


“I will never forget one who appeared at my door. He asked, ‘Are you Dr. Birrell?’ I said I was and he said, ‘I hear you are a safe place.’ I invited him in and he poured out his pain. He had come out the night before to his BYU Bishop who had told him, as he reported, that ‘it would have been better for you not to have ever been born than to be gay.’…” (James R. Birrell to Carol Lynn Pearson, April 30, 2014)


“While individuals may not choose such atractions, all individuals choose how to respond to them.…

Help the member recognize that same-gender attraction may be one aspect of his or her mortal experience, but is not an eternal identity.…

Provide opportunities for the member to make meaningful contributions in the ward through callings or other service.

Seek to measure success by the member’s efforts to come unto Christ and to strengthen emotional connections with others, rather than by attempts to eliminate same-sex attraction.…

Seek to strengthen relationships with family members and close friends.…

Help parents, spouses or family member move beyond blaming themselves or others so they can better love and reach out to the family member.…

Avoid offering overly simplified responses, such as the idea that marriage or missionary service will eliminate same-sex attraction.…” (“Ministering Resources – Same-Sex Attraction,” LDS Church, March 2015)


“The current March issue of the Ensign has an excellent article to help parents reach out to their children who might be faced with challenges and provide support.  It mentions a number of issues that might prompt a parent’s concern and help – and one of them it names is ‘same sex attraction.’

The article found on p. 10 is called ‘Talking About Tough Topics,’ and is written by a psychologist from LDS Family Services. It mentions seven guideline and they are all good: 1) Ask questions that invite conversation, 2) listen to understand, 3) show respect, 4) avoid criticism, 5) control your anger, 6) strengthen the relationship and 7) keep trying. It is well written and worth reading the entire article.” (Ron Schow to GAP, March 24, 2015)


“Despite what much of media and entertainment outlets may suggest, however, and despite the very real decline in the marriage and family orientation of some, the solid majority of mankind still believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. They believe in fidelity within marriage, and they believe in the marriage vows of ‘in sickness and in health’ and ‘till death do us part.’…

We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring.…” (L. Tom Perry, “Why Marriage and Family Matter—Everywhere in the World,” General Conference address, April 4, 2015)


“Even so, in his last LDS General Conference address, Perry, a Mormon apostle for more than four decades, defended ‘traditional families’ and warned against the dangers of ‘counterfeit and alternative lifestyles.’

Some in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community felt attacked by Perry’s language and then questioned his support of the legislation.

The use of the term ‘counterfeit’ may have ‘taken on more meaning than he intended,’ Lee Perry said in the interview, but critics shouldn’t question his father’s motives or intentions.

‘There is a lifetime of evidence,’ the son said, ‘that he had this profound respect for people.’” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Late Mormon apostle Perry cherished Utah’s LGBT-religious-liberty law, son says,” Salt Lake Tribune, May 31, 2015)


“Mormons are a fairly stable, even predictable, batch of believers.

They are just as religiously committed, as prayerful, as convinced that God is a person and that heaven exists as they were in 2007.

In the intervening years, however, Latter-day Saints have grown much more accepting of homosexuality, from 24 percent to 36 percent, according to the Pew Research Center’s just-released 2014 Religious Landscape Study, though the majority still opposes same-sex marriage by a wide margin (68 percent to 26 percent).…

Latter-day Saints, an overwhelmingly conservative bunch, are growing even more so. In 2007, 65 percent identified themselves as either Republican or leaning Republican, with 22 percent calling themselves Democrats or tilting that way. Today, after Mormon Mitt Romney’s historic, but ultimately failed, runs for the White House in 2008 and 2012, more Latter-day Saints (70 percent) favor the GOP. This makes Mormons, by far, the most reliably red religious group surveyed. In 2014, fewer than one in five (19 percent) of Latter-day Saints leaned left politically.…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormons becoming even more Republican, more accepting of gays, sweeping religious study shows,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 2, 2015)


“There were four things that came out of our research that may be of interest to you here today.  There is nothing unusual about the findings except maybe to confirm again things which you are already aware of as to the causes of the problem or some of the related background factors in its development.

One of the factors that has stood out prominently, of course, is the disturbed family background from which most individuals experiencing homosexuality come from.  The factor which was the most clear cut was that of either the emotionally absent father or the physically absent father.  In all the cases which we examined this was the factor which stood out in prominence.  The father, either through death, divorce, or just through emotional withdrawal or a very hard emotional surface did not relate with the individual.  Of course, the factor of the mother that seemed to come out repeatedly was the mother could be either a warm and understanding or dominant and over-protective.  She was usually controlling.

The second factor which showed up often among those that were counseled was the lack of relationship with peers.  The individual either sensed rejection or was actually rejected by those around him in his own age group.  Too, it seemed that homosexuality was used by these individuals as a vehicle for gaining love, affection and association with others, in attempting to be able to establish themselves in a relationship.

The third factor was the unhealthy sexual attitudes which had been developed by these individuals.  Sex was often viewed in the home as something less than desirable, and often ‘dirty.’  Sometimes it was found that the males interest in girls had been discouraged in the home.  The father’s mistreatment of the wife or mother in the home had often created a negative attitude.  And then, and maybe most typically, the individual seemed to misinterpret the church’s standards on premarital chastity and views heterosexual relationships negatively.  The statement that is so characteristic that we hear is that if they are asked the question, ‘Had they had any heterosexual contacts in physical union?’, the statement usually came back, ‘What! With a girl? That would be a sin.’  There was no correlation between that and homosexuality being a sin.  To some extent previous homosexual experiences seem to have been a factor.  Although most of these in the cases which we have seen usually occurred around the age of 12 or 13 years, some were as early as 4 or 5 years of age.  As a church related agency, I think one of the things we have to deal with directly is the fact that the individual comes to us knowing that what he has done is wrong and that he is carrying a great sense of guilt when he comes in to talk with us.… Homosexuality is not just an isolated problem, as you are no doubt aware.  It is a symptom of a more basic difficulty within the individual that he has grown up with as an outgrowth of a basic problem of being unable to deal with problems within his life.…”

(Robert L. Blattner, “Counseling the Homosexual in a Church Setting,” AMCAP Journal 1:6-7, 1975)


Bergin: We are dealing with a certain amount of unknowns here, and we have to be careful not to be doctrinaire about it.  Information is growing, and we don’t know what’s going to be around the next corner.  We had better be prepared to be surprised that our assumptions are not correct.  Knowledge is exploding, so I think humility is really important.  

(Allen Bergin, September 27, 2015)

Bradford: I went off the anti-depressants in the middle, and it ultimately put me on huge roller coaster.  One day I’d feel great, but the next day I was totally miserable.  I was a gay man and I would sit in General Conference and I would be sitting behind these men who were making my life miserable.  I would get up and conduct the choir so that they could then stand up lambast me.  I could read their talk because I was sitting right behind them and it would come up on there [on the teleprompter].  I would hear them say it, and it was a horrible experience.

(Barlow Bradford, October 10, 2015)

Claudia: I forgot something and I need to tell you this, because I’m ashamed of it. Back when Braden was just a toddler, and the Church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment and it came down through Relief Society, Claudia volunteered right away, not thinking logically or anything about it. I read their literature and I thought, “I’d better do what the Prophet says.” You know, this was in the 70s, so I was out there doing that. Then as soon as Braden said the words to me, years later, I thought, “Oh, my gosh! What did I do?” because in the Equal Rights Amendment literature they really demonized gay and lesbian people like they were going to destroy the world.  This was in the 70s and it struck fear into my heart and I thought I was doing something good for my family when I was doing that.

Greg: The Church was linking its stand against ERA to homosexuality as well?

Claudia: Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely.  I learned hate and homophobia from the literature that I’d picked up on that, when they were against the Equal Rights Amendment, because they kept saying that it would get the gays the right to get married, like it was going to be the worst thing that ever happened. I was so young and so I didn’t know how to do critical thinking, I guess.  This whole thing has taught me to say, “What?  Think again.”  But I did that, and then that era kind of passed for me and I was just going on doing my thing.…

Greg: And how is the second girl with this?

Claudia: Oh, she’s just totally an advocate for gay rights.

Greg: And has she withdrawn from the Church as a result?

Claudia: Yes.  What happened with her—it wasn’t long after Braden came out—was that she went to get her temple recommend and the bishop asked that one question, “Do you belong to any organization that disagrees with the Church?” She said, “Well, my brother is gay and I think he deserves equal rights.”  He wouldn’t give her a recommend, so she went home, took her garments off and never went back.

(Claudia Bradshaw, March 4, 2012)

Prince: There is a question that popped into my mind.  I have heard—maybe it’s just a rumor—that there was a question in the questionnaire that went out to John’s sample that asked about whether there had been any spiritual confirmation relating to sexuality.  Was that, in fact, on the questionnaire?

Bradshaw: It was.  I am the author of that question.  I have another manuscript, separate from the one I just told you about, that I am also trying to get published that documents the content of the responses to that question.  I’ll send that to you as well.

The responses to that item in the survey are remarkable.  If they were on some other subject besides sexual orientation, you’d see them be quoted in the Ensign and in communications directed to Latter-day Saints.  They are moving and extremely personal, and some of them are very long and extensive.  It appears to me, as I read them, that people were cathartic—that it gave people a chance to express a very personal experience that might not otherwise have shared with anyone before.

Prince: Were there significant numbers that essentially said, “The Spirit told me that I am gay”?

Bradshaw: Yes.  “I am gay and I feel accepted by my Heavenly Father as gay, without the requirement to change or be something different than I am.”

Prince: Was there any sense that this is, in fact, eternal—that the way they are now is the way they will be?

Bradshaw: Yes, in a modest way.  What I guess I’m trying to say is that on this issue, like I suppose on any other issue, we don’t know a heck of a lot about what happens next in the eternities.

Prince: I’m not sure we know anything!  We hope a few things, but I don’t know that we know them.

Bradshaw: And so it is expressed as a hope, as a belief, as a yearning—not as some revelatory insight about what exactly what is going to happen.

Prince: So you know where that paper will be sent for publication?

Bradshaw: I had sent it to the same journal, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and I just got a rejection from them days ago.  So I’m going to send it elsewhere.  Perhaps it’s a mistake in the way I formulated the manuscript, but I included the spiritual responses.  The way the question was formulated is as follows: “Have you ever experienced a spiritual experience in which you had inquired from Deity about the nature of your sexual orientation, and received a positive confirmation of it from Deity?”  That’s not the exact language, but that’s the nature of it.  But I combined it in the manuscript with other responses from our respondents about what they thought the etiology of being gay and lesbian was.  So there were responses as to whether this was due imperfect parenting, sexual abuse, early sexual experience—the sort of range of explanations that has been common in Freudian psychology and common in the Church as explanations for why this was a chosen perversion and subject to change.  Those data show, of course, that the majority of those people offer a biological explanation for their own experience.  But at least for one of the reviewers of my manuscript, they didn’t like the combination of that with the array of spiritual responses to the other question.  So I’m now trying to find another place that might be suitable.  I’m probably going to rework the manuscript and perhaps separate those two aspects of the data.

(William Bradshaw, December 28, 2015)

I did hear back from Elder Ballard. He emailed August 21, 2013, asking me to call him. During the call (I would have to look up the exact date), I took notes then wrote the following down immediately after the call:

He seemed to avoid the idea of promoting what’s in M&G. He has the stereotype in his head about what gay people are (called them “butterflies”) and is convinced that “100’s have been able to change their lifestyle.”

(Gina Crivello email correspondence with GAP, January 20, 2015)

Rich: So no one knows what causes homosexuality, but we do know one thing that does not cause homosexuality, and that is free choice.  So until the cause is known, it is grossly inappropriate to moralize about it.

(Richard Ferré, March 29, 2015)

Kendell: I remember sitting with Marlin [Jensen].  This was one of the first times we met after I had come out to him.  I came out to him and then I was in this job, and he called me, sort of jokingly, at one point.  We joked a little bit, and then I ended up being in town and said, “Can we see each other?”  He said he would love that.

We were at the Church Office Building, talking about homosexuality.  I was talking about my view and he was talking about his view, and he said, “But Kate, don’t you think that through prayer and through study, and maybe through some therapy and intervention, that we should try to free someone from homosexuality?  That we should give them an opportunity to live a life where they can be consistent with the gospel?”  I said back to Marlin, “Why would you force them to make that choice between who they really are and their love of the Church?”  It was a very interesting conversation.  He was still very much of the mind that this can be changed.  I said, “Marlin, I don’t think it can be changed, and I think you probably have your own doubts.  The way you can test your doubts is, how would you feel about your daughter marrying a man who had struggled with homosexuality?  Would you wish that for her?”  I think that really got him thinking.  It was like, “That would be a problem.”

I said, “This is the essence of who someone is.  I know how much you love Cathy, and I’m happy that you have this vital, passionate relationship with her.  I know that you’re going to be sexually active with her, and it enriches your life.  Why would you deny that to someone using sex as a way to bond, rather than feeling like it’s something they have to perform but it doesn’t really speak to what they want.  It’s not who they really are, but they do it because they are supposed to.”

Because Marlin is so deeply empathetic, and I do know about how deeply he loves Cathy—he was open to really thinking about that.  So the fact that he was quoted as saying that is so moving to me.  It’s sort of like more of what we were saying to each other that day.…

He is so open!  He is open to it!  I think because he is deeply humane and he understands love, he understands sex, he understands passion, he understands what the glue of a relationship is—I’m really happy that he had that conversation with Rick.  I understand that it was delicate, and our conversation with each other was delicate too.  But he was hearing the message that, “We are fed in the same way.  We are revived.  We feel like we are closer to immortality when we are intimate with our partners, in the same way you are.  When sex is good and it’s with someone you love, and it’s deep and it’s meaningful, you feel like you see God!  I don’t care what your religion is.”  Marlin understands that.  He gets that.

(Kate Kendell, December 3, 2014)

Wendy: There was a tri-stake fireside about three months ago.  My kids weren’t there, but I had several friends call me and tell me that the speaker, who was a member of our stake presidency, was talking to the youth and telling them about the evils of today, and staying clean.  He started talking about homosexuality and said, “If you are gay, you have a devil inside of you.”…

What a horrible thing!  But that was a totally normal talk for where I live.  My stake president compares gay people to alcoholics and drug addicts all the time.

(Wendy Montgomery, July 16, 2014)

Wendy: Our bishop and stake president starting saying things like, “You need to stop talking about this.  You need to stop posting it on Facebook.  You are on the slippery slope to apostasy.  You are skirting church discipline.  You are on thin ice.”  It felt a little bit like they were threatening us.  Maybe threatening is too harsh a word, but it made me very conflicted.  I had heard my whole life, “You follow your priesthood leaders.  You don’t question them.  They are ordained of God.  They speak for God.”

But in the meantime, I had gotten priesthood blessings from my husband; my brother, who was a bishop at the time; my dad; and the first counselor in the Los Angeles Temple presidency, who is a family friend.  He gave me a blessing in the L.A. Temple, in his office.  All of these blessings said things like, “Jordan’s feet have been placed on this path before he was ever born.  Heavenly Father loves him and accepts him completely the way he is.  You were paired with him for this reason.  Heavenly Father has given you a voice and he wants you to use it to help these children.”

So I had felt very strongly—not just the blessings, but when I prayed about it myself—that we were supposed to talk about this, in a faithful, Christ-centered way—not in an antagonistic way, not attacking the Church ever.  We are so careful about that.  But it was making people very uncomfortable with us.

So I shared that with Elder [D. Todd] Christofferson when we met with him.  I said, “I feel very strongly that I am getting answers to my prayers, and I have received these blessings that are telling me we are supposed to do this.  But my priesthood leaders are telling me to stop.  I don’t want to look to them like I’m being disobedient, but I know this is what we are supposed to do.

He said—and it was so wonderful; it was exactly what I needed to hear—“You know, when we give talks in General Conference or write articles for the Ensign, we know we are speaking to the majority.  We are not going to reach every single person.  We realize this.  When you receive personal revelation and you recognize it as such, that will always trump what we say.”  That was so awesome!  So awesome, because all of the conflict and guilt I felt just went away.  It just felt like he was saying, “If you know this is revelation, you follow that.”

He thanked us many times for what we were doing, and asked us to continue.  He said we were pioneers, and it’s always difficult to be on the forefront.  He said, “You are doing on the ground what I cannot do in my office.”  That was frustrating to hear.  I knew he meant it as encouragement and a compliment, but I feel like his voice reaches millions, and mine just reaches whoever has read it on Facebook.

(Wendy Montgomery, March 14, 2015)

Wendy: Then he [Todd Christofferson] said, in that interview in 2014, “We are redoing the website—mormonsandgays.org 2.0.  We would love any critique or suggestions you have, but please don’t be offended if we don’t use all of your suggestions.”  If they used every suggestion that I wanted to give them, I might be excommunicated!  He said, “Go home and review the website, and then you can send me some thoughts in an email.”  I said, “I have a suggestion right now.”  He raised his eyebrows, and I didn’t know if that was too uppity of me, or if was just surprised.  I said, “There are no youth on that website.  It is never discussed anywhere there that they can know at a young age, that they don’t have to have a sexual experience to know that they are gay.  That was really difficult for my son and for us, because we saw multiple LDS therapists, and all of our leaders, and my family and close friends—every single person said, ‘There is no such thing as a gay teenager.  They are too young to know.  They are just confused.  It’s a phase.  It’s the popular thing to say that they are gay.  This will go away, with increased righteousness.’  They said all of these things, and it made things so much harder for my son.  I remember having a conversation with him where he said, ‘Everyone is saying that I’m not gay, but I don’t know if I am—and if I’m not gay, what am I?  What is wrong with me?  Why am I not like every other boy if this isn’t what it is?’  We are telling them that their lived experiences, what they are going through and feeling deeply, in the core of themselves, isn’t right and isn’t true, and they are just confused, and they don’t really know themselves.  It’s super-damaging.”

(Wendy Montgomery, March 14, 2015)

One thing she [Wendy Montgomery] said after the interview (and thus it was not recorded) was that in one of her meetings with Todd Christofferson, Todd told her that on several occasions, “through revelation,” he had attempted to bring the Quorum of the Twelve to a better place on LGBT issues.  In each instance, he had been slapped down.  What does “through revelation” mean, I asked?  She responded that Todd said that he had had overwhelmingly powerful spiritual experiences.  But having the “revelation” and “selling it” to some of his homophobic colleagues in the Twelve were quite different things.  (GAP diary entry of March 14, 2015)

Raynes: By the way, I have to go in about ten minutes, and I have two topics I’d like to address just briefly.  It occurs to me, sitting here, that we are talking mostly about gay men and gay male couples and male priesthood.  One of the reasons we don’t really access women is that for some reason parents of gay and lesbian children don’t advocate for their daughters the same way they do for their sons.  Lesbian women in the Church whom I’ve talked to sort of think the Church is irrelevant.  “We’re second-class citizens to start with, since we don’t have the priesthood, so this is sort of two-for-two.  It doesn’t mean spirituality or a connection to God is irrelevant; it’s just that the structure doesn’t work, so I’m out of here.”  And nobody goes after trying to get their stories.  So most of what has come about, in my mind, has been from the grassroots up, to people such as yourself.  They self-formed in some ways.  But women don’t do that.  I can name any number of lesbian LDS women, whether they have stayed or left, but nobody takes the time or interest to seek them out.

(Marybeth Raynes, April 7, 2013)

Gary: I was going through my papers to see what I had.  One of the things that I am most interested in parallels what you are talking about, and that was how did the Church get into the position that it has, in terms of its policies.  I found a letter that I had written to James Faust back in 1994.  He had come down to BYU and spoke at a devotional.  His talk was entitled “Trying to Serve the Lord Without Offending the Devil.”  In it, he made quite a few comments about homosexuality not being inborn, and being changeable.  I wrote him a nice letter.  I tried to caution him a little bit and give him the perspective that maybe he wasn’t getting the total story from LDS Social Services.  That has been the major source of my complaint with the Church, in terms of the policy.

Greg: Dean Byrd.

Gary: Absolutely.

Greg: Dean started his career in our ward in Maryland in the mid-70s.

Gary: He has been the major stumbling block.  The guy, in my view, was a devious malcontent.  And I just don’t think that he was a good practitioner.

But anyway, Faust wrote me back this letter, because I had challenged him on the idea that people can really change.  He wrote here, “Perhaps people cannot change through faith alone.  It may require, in addition to faith, a sincere desire and some counseling.  We have had enough experience in the Church to know that some people can and do change their sexual orientation.  One has to ask, ‘If they can, why can’t everyone?’”

That’s the crux of the problem that was presented.  Dean Byrd was the guy who was responsible for feeding the General Authorities and giving them all the information they had.

Greg: What was the date of Faust’s letter?

Gary: November 23, 1994.  Craig [their gay son] got excommunicated in early 1993, and that’s when we really started to get active.…

Millie: We had an interview with Byrd quite soon after Craig was excommunicated.  He was the first guy we talked to at Church Social Services.

Gary: Well, we talked to Harold Brown.

Millie: Yes.  Harold sent us to Byrd.  It was not pleasant at all.  He was really harsh and homophobic, for sure.

Gary: This is probably out of the purview of your book, but if you are looking at the origins of the church policy about homosexuality, Dean Byrd played a critical role in it.  I had an experience that just really taught me how this happens.  The General Authorities are all busy.  They don’t take time to read in depth.

Shortly after Craig was excommunicated, we went up and had about an-hour-and-a-half interview with Russell Ballard.  We talked about a lot of things.  I can tell you quite a few stories about that interview and subsequent events.  But one of the things that happened, probably within three months of our visit with Ballard, was that I got a letter from him saying, “Gary, this came across my desk today.  I thought you might be interested in it.”  What it was, was a summary of a paper that was written by Bill Byne and Bruce Parsons guy from Columbia, on the biological aspects of homosexuality.  [Byne, William; Parsons, Bruce: “Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised.  Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 50:228-239, 1993.]

Well, what Dean Byrd had done was to take this paper, which was a decent paper, and summarized it with his slant on the paper, and then had sent it to all the apostles, including Ballard.  So I have a copy of the paper that Byrd sent to Ballard, telling him, “Here is a paper that supports our view that biology isn’t the cause of homosexuality,” which was far from the truth.  It was a slanted review.

So here was Ballard.  He read this and he believed what Byrd had to say—to the point where he thought, “I’ll send this off to Gary.  This will help him understand why we take the position we do.”  Well, I had already read the paper, so I already knew about it; and I was really ticked!  Now, all of a sudden it dawned on me why these apostles and other General Authorities thought the way they did: they were getting all their information from Byrd.

I thought, “How do I counter this?”  So I called Columbia University and asked for Bill Byne’s office.  I’ll be darned if he didn’t come to the phone.  It was a fluky deal.  I just called him.  I spent about forty-five minutes with him on the phone.  He was gracious and nice.  I told him about this review.  I said, “I’m kind of curious, because that’s not the way I interpret your paper.  Am I misinterpreting, or is he misinterpreting?”  Anyway, we had this nice, long interview, and there was no question that Bill Byne believed that homosexuality was biological.  He had written this paper to look at the evidence, and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t definitive, but there was no question where he was.  He as a gay rights guy across the board.

Greg: Did he even know who Dean Byrd was?

Gary: No.  I told him who Dean Byrd was.  So after that conversation I wrote Ballard a letter and cautioned him.  I told him that I had read the paper and that I thought it had been misinterpreted.  I don’t remember whether Ballard wrote back.  I can’t find a response to that letter, so I don’t know if he did.  But I tell you that because I just think that somehow, somebody needs to expose Dean Byrd.  People need to understand what a devious guy he was.  I’ve tried to describe where did he come from.  Was he gay?  I think he could have been a closeted gay, but I also think he was a guy who was trying to be supportive of the General Authorities, and trying to make things fit with what he perceived to be the gospel principles he was being taught.  I don’t know.

(Gary and Millie Watts, August 8, 2014)