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Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “28c – Boyd Packer”

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28c – Boyd Packer


“There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just ‘that way’ and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our pre-mortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men—masculine, manly man—ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.”  (Boyd K. Packer, General Conference address, October 2, 1976.  Conference Report, October 1976, p. 101)


“[p. 90] Between 1977 and 1979 Elder Petersen wrote six editorials in the Church News decrying homosexual conduct. President Kimball asked Elder Packer to address the issue of homosexuality at a BYU fireside in March 1978. Feeling inadequate, Elder Packer first responded, ‘President, I just couldn’t do it.’ But after soul-searching he concluded he could not refuse ‘an assignment from the prophet’ and gave a very direct talk.” (Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, Working Draft, Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2009)


“[p. 2] And so, now to the subject.  To introduce it I must use a word.  I will use it one time only.  Please notice that I use it as an adjective, not as a noun; I reject it as a noun.  I speak to those few, those very few, who may be subject to homosexual temptation.  I repeat, I accept that word as an adjective to describe a temporary condition.  I reject it as a noun naming a permanent one.…

[p. 4] Is this tendency impossible to change?  Is it preset at the time of birth and locked in?  Do you just have to live with it?  For example, the shutter of an expensive camera is calibrated at the factory and cannot be adjusted in the field.  If such a camera, by chance, is thrown out of calibration or damaged, it cannot be fixed locally.  It must eventually go back to the factory, for only there can it be put in order.  Is perversion like that?  The answer is a conclusive no!  It is not like that.

Some so-called experts, and many of those who have yielded to the practice, teach that it is congenital and incurable and that one just has to learn to live with it.  They can point to a history of very little success in trying to put whatever mechanism that causes this back into proper adjustment.  They have, to support them, some very convincing evidence.  Much of the so-called scientific literature concludes that there really is not much that can be done about it.

I reject that conclusion out of hand.  And there is a very sensible reason.  How can a conclusion on a matter like this be valid when the studies have ignored the part of our nature most affected by it?  It has not been fully studied as a moral and a spiritual disorder.

It is not unchangeable. It is not locked in.  One does not just have to yield to it and live with it.  Test it [p. 5] against moral law and you learn something very quickly.  If a condition that draws both men and women into one of the ugliest and most debased of all physical performances is set and cannot be overcome, it would be a glaring exception to all moral law.…

[p. 9] Perversion may have some very physical expressions, but it is not a physical disorder.  A most extensive physical examination will not reveal one shred of evidence that it is.…

[p. 10] The cause of this disorder has remained hidden for so long because we have been looking for it in the wrong place.  When the cause is discovered, it may be nothing so mysterious after all  It may be hidden because it is so obvious.…

Have you explored the possibility that the cause, when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness—selfishness in a very subtle form?  Now—and understand this—I do not think for a minute that [p. 11] the form of selfishness at the root of perversion is a conscious one, at least not to begin with.…

It is hard to believe that any individual would, by a clear, conscious decision or by a pattern of them, choose a course of deviation.…

[p. 18] There is great power in the scriptures.  Study the gospel—live it.  Read the revelations.  Every prescription against selfishness of any kind will bring some control of this disease.” (Boyd K. Packer, To the One, Address given to the Twelve Stake Fireside Brigham Young University, March 5, 1978)


“You will note from the attached that Elder Packer was not pleased to have his talk the subject of editorial comment in the Universe, even favorable editorial comment.

I send this along for your information.  Nothing can be done at this point except to apologize, which I will handle with him directly.”  (Dallin H. Oaks to M. Dallas Burnett, March 17, 1978)

“Elder Boyd K. Packer chose a sensitive subject for Sunday’s fireside address.  The topic of homosexuality is not a pleasant one.  Nor is it one to be frequently or lightly spoken of, as shown by the fact that he chose to use the word ‘homosexual’ only once during his speech.…

Elder Packer said his speech was for the ‘one.’  But many people appear eager to apply it to those numbered among the ‘ninety-and-nine.’”  (Shari Eyre, “’Gay’ label misapplied on basis of a few traits,” Daily Universe)

[The photocopy of the Daily Universe editorial was sent by Packer to Oaks, along with the following typed message, on March 16, 1978:  “I want to tell you pointedly that I have thought this to be a very personal message.  No good purpose will be served if you make this message the subject of chatter in the dormitories, or in classes, or church meetings, or in the Universe.  I repeat, I have thought this to be a very personal message, and I have already said that we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them.”]



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.”)]


“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”)


“Animals cannot be accountable for the standards of morality by which mankind is judged. They are ruled by the physical laws of nature. Animals by and large are promiscuous in responding to their mating instincts. Nevertheless, their mating rituals follow set patterns and have rigid limitations. For instance, animals do not pair up with their own gender to satisfy their mating instincts.…” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Fountain of Life,” BYU Devotional, March 29, 1992.) [HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONS HAVE BEEN FOUND IN 1,500 SPECIES OF ANIMALS AND 500 HAVE BEEN RESEARCHED DEEPLY.]


“5 May 1993 – The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that the state’s refusal to issue marriage licenses constitutes sex discrimination under Hawaii law.  As such, the discrimination may only be practiced if the state can demonstrate a ‘compelling public interest’ in denying marriage to same-sex couples.  The Supreme Court returns the case to the circuit court to issue a new decision based on whether such a compelling interest exists.” (Richley H. Crapo, “Chronology of LDS Involvement in Same-sex Marriage Politics,” 1997) [NOTE THAT BOYD PACKER’S “THREE ENEMIES” SPEECH TO THE ALL-CHURCH COORDINATING COUNCIL WAS GIVEN THIRTEEN DAYS AFTER THE SUPREME COURT DECISION WAS ANNOUNCED.]


“5 May 1993 – Apostle Boyd K. Packer gives an address at a meeting of the All-Church Coordinating Council and refers to homosexuality as one of the three major social problems that represent a danger to members.” (Richley Crapo, “Chronology of Mormon/LDS Involvement in Same-Sex Marriage Politics,” Mormon Social Science Association, Working Papers, January 4, 2008)


“As a final example of this category of messages, Scott’s story illustrates the potential negative impact of the messages participants attributed to the LDS Church on same-sex attraction. He relayed how he had read that ‘homosexuals were lower than the bellies of the beasts in the fields’ in a pamphlet by Boyd K. Packer entitled ‘To the One.’ Scott continued: ‘And he [Packer] said if he had a son or daughter that was homosexual that it would be better if they tied a millstone around their neck and cast themselves into the sea than be homosexual.’ Scott indicated the statement was a factor in his motivation to attempt suicide: ‘I just thought it would be better for me to tie a millstone around my neck and cast myself into the sea.’ In an essay entitled ‘Millstone,’ Scott described how he found a ‘deserted alley,’ downed a bottle of pills, and slit his wrists with an Exacto-knife—his ‘final steps toward peace.’” (Lynda Gail Brzezinski, “Dealing with Disparity: Identity Development of Same-Sex Attracted/Gay Men Raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” PhD dissertation, University of Utah, May 2000, p. 61)


“Pressure is put upon legislatures to legalize unnatural conduct.  They can never make right that which is forbidden in the laws of God.…

Some think that God created them with overpowering, unnatural desires, that they are trapped and not responsible (see James 1:13-15). That is not true.  It cannot be true.  Even if they were to accept it as true, they must remember that He can cure and He can heal (see Alma 7:10-13; Alma 15:8).” (Boyd K. Packer, “Ye Are the Temple of God,” General Conference talk, October 2000, Ensign, November 2000)


“’We are here today as members of the LDS church and parents of gay children,’ David [Hardy] began. He had already dispersed to the various reporters copies of the pamphlets that, he asserted, promote violence against homosexuals. He pointed out that the church had reissued literature condoning violence as a response to homosexuals at the same time that Russell Hendersen, and LDS member, was being tried for the murder of Matthew Shepard (the church has since excommunicated Hendersen). David asked that [Boyd] Packer or a church spokesman avow or reject the language in the pamphlets—the only existing church literature directly addressing homosexuality.” (Katherine Rosman, “Mormon Family Values,” The Nation, February 25, 2002)


“I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds the wickedness and depravity which surrounds us now.

Satan uses every intrigue to disrupt the family. The sacred relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, through which mortal bodies are conceived and life is passed from one generation to the next generation, is being showered with filth.…” (Boyd K. Packer, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” BYU J. Reuben Clark Law Society Devotional, February 28, 2004)


“During the priesthood session of October LDS general conference in 1976 Apostle Boyd K. Packer gave a speech entitled “To Young Men Only”, that discussed situations in which young men are “tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another in unusual ways.” He commented that “such practices are perversion….Physical mischief with another man is forbidden.” Packer also essentially advocated anti-Gay violence in his speech when he recounted the story of a male missionary who had “hit” and “floored” his mission companion, apparently for simply revealing his sexual orientation. Because Packer does not specify the reason for the violent response, he leaves the interpretation up to the reader. Packer told the missionary, “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.” Packer told his audience, “I am not recommending that course [of violence] to you but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself”.[107] I myself was present at this speech in the Tabernacle as a 15 year old Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. His missionary story left me with the harrowing sense that any future violence directed at me for my sexuality was justified by “God and His servants”. This antiquated, homophobic speech was later made into a pamphlet by the same name and was distributed worldwide by the LDS Church for use in counseling young men until quite recently. As of 2011, Packer’s speech has been deleted from both the “Conference Addresses” and “Ensign articles” of the LDS church’s official website, lds.org.” (Connell O’Donovan, “’The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’:  A Revised History of Homosexuality & Mormonism, 1840-1980,” 2004)



Well there are scriptures that support it, but there is a lot we don’t understand about that. I don’t know, I have no recollection of any member of the Church having been disciplined for having those thoughts or those tendencies. That’s very private with those individuals but if they act on them and move into immoral conduct then can be subject to excommunication and that is not hastily done but that discipline is there. Part of the problem is that you can be postulated in to that activity. And if they’re postulating in that pattern the great plan of happiness there isn’t much happiness on the end of that rope and so we counsel against that kind of conduct, it doesn’t fit into the plan. So and it can be an addiction I’m sure. But I say again I don’t know anyone who has been disciplined in the Church for thoughts and tendencies in that direction or in any other direction of temptation.

I’m sure you’ve known people who are gay who seek counseling.  How do you counsel a gay friend?

Well, I don’t accept the word homosexual as a noun; I accept it as an adjective. Homosexual conduct and it can be repented of and notwithstanding the so-called scientific evidence that it can be cured and lived about, except for that the doctrine of repentance and forgiveness is erased so there isn’t too much to say except for that.

If the scientific explanation of homosexuality continues and that people don’t choose it, they are homosexuals as a noun, would that influence the Church’s thinking?

I don’t think so. That you could make the same case for child molesters. Tendency, pressures, I was born that way. Morality is morality.

But you wouldn’t equate those two?

No. Except that they are both in the pattern of reacting to inward pressures and just that.

What do you say to a gay man or woman if they do want to stay in the Church?

Well we do not discipline for the thoughts or tendencies but for the actions. And in one way there’s no way different than a heterosexual person being under terrible pressure to misuse those sacred powers of procreation.  Immorality and the line is drawn there. And so that that’s the individual responsibility to keep the commandments. They are free to do as they want and go their way but that what it costs them. I have great sympathy for them, tremendous sympathy for them. They, that has to be replaced with something else in their lives in their minds that, too, if they’re resigned to that, consigned to that to accept it as inevitable isn’t consistent with the doctrines.


As built in, and precept. “I was born this way.” I don’t accept that. That’s all I know about that subject.

(Boyd K. Packer, interviewed by Helen G. Whitney for her PBS documentary, “The Mormons,” broadcast in 2007.  Interview conducted February 25, 2006, Salt Lake City.  Transcript from Helen Whitney, “Boyd Packer Part 3 – Tape #3220)


“There are times when we are accused of being intolerant because we won’t accept and do the things that are supposed to be the norm in society. Well, the things we won’t do, we won’t do.  And the things we won’t do, we can’t do, because the standard we follow is given of Him.” (Boyd K. Packer, remarks at Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, February 9, 2008; LDS Church News, February 16, 2008)


The italicized sentence was deleted from the official, published version, but is still on the video and audio records on lds.org:

“Fifteen years go, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church. It qualifies, according to the definition, as a revelation, and, uh, it would do well that members of the Church to read and follow.”

(Boyd K. Packer, General Conference address, October 3, 2010)


“A statement from Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer reaffirms the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ opposition to marriage equality, which a recent apology from another Mormon leader seemed to soften.…

Last month Marlin K. Jensen, the church’s historian and a prominent member of the general authorities leadership hierarchy, told a group of Mormons gathered in Oakland, Calif., that he was sorry for the pain caused by the church’s substantial involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign.

According to the report from Fox 13 in Utah, the timing and severity of the words from Packer caught some critics off guard.” (Julie Bolcer, “Mormon Leader Reaffirms Prop. 8 Support,” Advocate, October 4, 2010)


“The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, today called on Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to correct statements he made yesterday calling same-sex attraction ‘impure and unnatural,’ claiming that it can be corrected and characterizing same-sex marriage as immoral.…

‘Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide,’ said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. ‘When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.…

Last summer, another senior member of the church’s hierarchy, promised that same-sex attraction could be cured. ‘If you are faithful, on resurrection morning – and maybe even before then – you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex,’ Mormon Church leader Bruce Hafen told a conference.…

‘Elder Packer’s remarks in General Conference were not only ill-advised and contrary to fact, but were mean-spirited and will be perceived by many as bullying,’ said David Melson, Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. ‘We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred.’” (Human Rights Campaign, “HRC to Mormon Apostle: Your Statements are Inaccurate and Dangerous,” October 4, 2010)


“Same-sex attraction can be overcome and any type of union other than marriage between a man and a woman is morally wrong, an LDS apostle told millions of Mormons on Sunday.

‘There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,’ Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said in a strongly worded sermon about the dangers of pornography and same-sex marriage. ‘A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?’…

Some argue that ‘they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural,’ he said. ‘Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.’…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Apostle: Same-sex attraction can change,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 4, 2010)


“Scores of Mormons felt confused and bruised this weekend by LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer’s unequivocal condemnation of same-sex marriage and insistence that gays can change their attractions with enough faith.…

Pearson said Packer’s approach seemed so different from the style of Elder Marlin Jensen, LDS Church historian and member of the First Quorum of Seventy, who, while on assignment last month, listened and wept with gay and lesbian members in the Bay Area.

Mormons in the LDS Oakland Stake were particularly divided by their church’s drive to help pass Proposition 8. The affluent stake dutifully raised more than $100,000 for the effort to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman, but became emotionally and socially split over the issue.

Jensen was the visiting general authority and offered to meet with members on the issue. About 90 people attended the meeting by invitation, and 13 shared their stories of pain as gays or family members, Pearson reported on her website. After one particularly harrowing account, many in the room, including Jensen, began to cry.

The speaker said he felt the church owed him an apology.

Jensen arose and said through his tears, according to Pearson, he had heard very clearly the pain that had been expressed and that ‘to the full extent of my capacity I say that I am sorry.’

Marriage as only between a man and a woman was a ‘bedrock of our doctrine and would not change,’ Jensen told the group that day, nor would the policy requiring gays to remain celibate.

‘However, I want you to know that as a result of being with you this morning, my aversion to homophobia has grown,’ Jensen said. ‘I know that many very good people have been deeply hurt.’

Jensen’s heartfelt empathy was such a healing balm that day, said Andy Sorenson, bishop of the Moraga Ward, home to about half the participants. There was widespread sobbing.

‘He said that we have to do better going forward as a Christian people in expressing Christ’s love and fostering our common bonds together,’ Sorenson said Monday. ‘It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life.’…

Kristine Haglund, editor of the Boston-based magazine, Dialogue — A Journal of Mormon Thought, cautions people not to make too much of the speech.

The talk is best understood, Haglund said in an e-mail, ‘as a last volley in what President Packer sees as the last great battle of his life.’

The longtime Mormon leader’s refusal ‘to soften or moderate his stance, even as the rest of the [LDS] Church has slowly evolved away from the view that homosexuality is merely an evil choice,’ she wrote, ‘is evidence of his personal tenacity and zeal, but not necessarily indicative that doctrine and practice aren’t shifting.’

The speech’s greatest harm, Haglund said, is ‘the pain and grief it potentially inflicts on gay people and their friends and families.’

For members like editor and writer Jana Riess of Cincinnati, ‘It is painful to be so at odds with my church on this issue.’

In her column Flunking Sainthood at beliefnet.com, Riess asks: ‘If the goal is to become like Jesus, why, then, do we fixate so much of our attention on condemning homosexuality, a subject that Christ did not address a single time in his earthly ministry?’” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormons divided on LDS apostle’s speech on gays,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 5, 2010)


“Just days after an LDS Apostle’s anti-gay remarks made national headlines, Utah’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has planned a number of events to protest the leader’s sermon, and to show support for LGBT people and their straight allies.…” (“Protests Against LDS Apostle’s Sermon Planned,” Q Salt Lake, October 6, 2010)


“On Facebook, more than a thousand people have already signed up to protest the LDS Church Thursday night.…” (Chris Vanocur, “Hundreds now expected to protest LDS Church leader’s comments against gays,” www.abc4.com, October 6, 2010)


“The LDS Church re-emphasized Thursday night that its doctrine on marriage and family is based on respect and love, as 2,000-3,000 people protested for gay rights and recognition in downtown Salt Lake City.…

Protesters gathered at City Creek Park and then crossed over to public sidewalks to form back-to-back lines around Temple Square in a silent protest.…” (“2,000-3,000 protest for gay rights outside Mormon church offices in Salt Lake City,” Deseret News, October 7, 2010)


“Same-sex attraction can be overcome and any type of union other than marriage between a man and a woman is morally wrong, an LDS apostle told millions of Mormons on Sunday.

‘There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature,’ Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, said in a strongly worded sermon about the dangers of pornography and same-sex marriage. ‘A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?’

Packer, speaking from his seat because of his frail health, addressed more than 20,000 members gathered in the LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions more watching the faith’s 180th Semiannual General Conference via satellite.

The senior apostle drew on the church’s 1995 declaration, ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World,’ to support his view that the power to create offspring ‘is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key — the very key.’

Some argue that ‘they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural,’ he said. ‘Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.’

Alluding to the Utah-based church’s support of laws such as California’s Proposition 8 that would define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, Packer said, ‘Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course.’

‘We cannot change; we will not change,’ the senior apostle declared. ‘We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God. If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish.’…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Apostle: Same-sex attraction can change,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 7, 2010)


“Organizers estimate a crowd of 4,500 people completely surrounded the two blocks of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints administration building and Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City in protest of Boyd K. Packer’s remarks during the church’s semi-annual General conference last weekend.…” (“Thousands Surround LDS Temple Square in Protest of Packer Speech,” Q Salt Lake, October 7, 2010)


“The official text of the October general conference address by President Boyd K. Packer, president of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was posted online Friday afternoon with acknowledged amendments, but not the type or magnitude of revisions gay-rights activists have called for in protests and petitions since the talk was given Sunday.

‘The Monday following every general conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker’s intent,’ said Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ‘President Packer has simply clarified his intent.’…” (Mormon church clarifies intent of President Boyd K. Packer’s talk,” Deseret News, October 8, 2010)


“Changes made to a senior LDS apostle’s speech do not go far enough, advocates for the gay and transgender community said Friday.

‘It’s still a hateful message that [Boyd K. Packer has] conveyed,’ said Paul Guequierre, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights based in Washington, D.C. ‘We’re calling on Elder Packer to make it right. We want him to speak to the kids across the country who are struggling with their own identities … [and] tell them they are loved just the way they are.’

HRC has collected 100,000 signatures on an online petition calling on Packer to recant statements that same-sex attraction is an ‘impure and unnatural’ condition that can be overcome. Packer has since edited his speech, delivered Sunday at the faith’s 180th Semiannual General Conference, to describe ‘inborn temptations’ instead of ‘inborn tendencies.’

Backed by the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah and the gay Mormon support group Affirmation, HRC leaders plan to deliver the petition Tuesday to LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.…” (Rosemary Winters, “Petition against Packer’s speech draws 100,000 signatures,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 8, 2010)


“National gay rights activists tell The Associated Press they will descend on Salt Lake City’s Mormon church headquarters to deliver more than 100,000 letters asking a senior church leader to recant recent anti-gay statements.…” (Jennifer Dobner, “U.S. gay rights leaders headed to Utah,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 8, 2010)


“A little girl in a pink fairy princess outfit twirled around, holding a sign reading ‘Homophobia tears families apart’ near the entrance to city hall Saturday afternoon.

‘I have a lot of gay friends and acquaintances, and I’m here to support them and their rights,’ said the child’s mother, Leann Ballard, of Ogden.

The family joined several hundred people in a march from the Marriott Hotel to the steps of the Ogden City Municipal Building to protest comments made by Boyd K. Packer about homosexuality during last week’s LDS general conference.…” (Jesus Lopez, Jr., “Unitarians march in protest of Boyd Packer’s statements about gays and lesbians,” Ogden Standard-Examiner, October 9, 2010)


“The Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader in 2004 famously apologized to its readers.

In a lengthy front-page clarification, the newspaper said its shortcoming was one of omission 40 years earlier: Publisher Fred Wachs, despite personally supporting desegregation, had actively downplayed the civil rights movement. The paper advised staffers not to report on civil unrest and buried any stories they did produce deep inside.

‘He didn’t like the idea of some of these rabble-rousers coming in and causing trouble,’ his son, Fred Wachs Jr., recalled in the clarification. Like a number of publishers in the South, he saw the demonstrators as bad for business and believed silencing them might make them go away.

They didn’t go away, of course, and the Herald-Leader on June 4, 2004, marked the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by acknowledging it had failed to fulfill its role in a democracy. Through omission, it had failed to give voice to the voiceless, to inform the debate on issues of the day, to provide a first, rough draft of history.

The Salt Lake Tribune hopes never to make the same mistake.

That’s why Peggy Fletcher Stack’s Monday story reporting LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer’s remarks at General Conference condemning same-sex marriage as immoral and asserting that gays can change appeared on The Tribune’s front page.

It’s why our coverage of the campaign for gay rights from all perspectives is — and will continue to be — aggressive and thorough. Regardless of where you stand, this is the civil rights movement of our time.

Readers this week have had plenty to say about Stack’s story and others that followed. Some of you praised our coverage. Others pummeled it as an attack on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As always, we welcome your input. We work for you, and we listen to what you say. Our goal remains to inform the debate and encourage intelligent, civil discussion, including with us.…” (Lisa Carricaburu, “Tribune reports LDS remarks on gays so you can decide,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 9, 2010)


“This past week, the LDS Church re-emphasized ‘that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone.’ This is not new — it mirrors, for example, how the LDS Church helped to champion a Salt Lake City ordinance banning discrimination of gays and lesbians in housing and employment. And it is consistent with how the LDS Church has ministered to members with same-gender attraction.…

While opposing all sexual relations outside of traditional marriage, the LDS Church has consistently reached out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.

Perhaps the focused attention has come because the LDS Church continues to assert principled opposition to same-sex marriage, a view shared by most Americans.…

We encourage all to read President Packer’s talk rather than simply rely on the media interpretations and selective quotations. It stretches all credulity to find in President Packer’s pastoral counsel what some are calling a hateful message ‘that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide.’…” (Editorial, “In our opinion: A call for civility following Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer’s address,” Deseret News, October 10, 2010)


“Senior Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer has modified his General Conference speech for the LDS Church’s online publication to more closely reflect the faith’s view that the cause of same-sex attraction is unknown and that the only sin is acting on those desires.

Packer’s speech about gay marriage, same-sex attraction, pornography and addiction ignited a firestorm of critiques, conversations and protests, particularly the suggestion that gays could ‘overcome’ their attractions with enough faith.

Perhaps the most controversial paragraph in Packer’s text that he read Sunday said, ‘Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.’

Now the word ‘temptations’ has replaced ‘tendencies’ and the question about God’s motives has been removed entirely.

Packer, next in line for the LDS Church presidency, changed his wording as part of a routine practice after every General Conference, according to spokesman Scott Trotter, when speakers are given the opportunity to make ‘any edits necessary.’

‘President Packer has simply clarified his intent,’ Trotter said Friday in a statement.

While minor edits may be common, such substantive changes are rare. For instance, a general authority had to revise and retape a General Conference sermon he gave in 1984 that some saw as out of step with church teachings.…

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, was even more forceful.

‘People across this country still need to hear from Elder Packer that he was wrong and that his statements were dangerous,’ Solmonese said in a statement. ‘Trying to rewrite history is simply not good enough. Elder Packer and the church must immediately and fully correct the factual record. Sexual orientation and gender identity is an immutable characteristic of being human and, no matter how hard you pray, that won’t change.’…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Packer talk jibes with LDS stance after tweak,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 11, 2010)


“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tuesday called for the condemnation of bullying and cruelty of the gay community and others who may be viewed as different.

The Church’s statement came after a petition letter, containing 150,000 signatures, was hand-delivered to the Church’s Salt Lake headquarters asking the Church to withdraw statements made by President Boyd K. Packer about same-sex attraction, which he said was unnatural and with enough faith can be overcome.

Activists say such statements are factually inaccurate and can result in bullying that leads some gay youth to attempt suicide.

On Tuesday, LDS Church spokesman Michael Otterson joined with the Human Rights Campaign, who collected the signatures, in calling for ‘unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different…’ They asked all people, particularly members of the LDS Church, to ‘speak out against bullying or intimidation’ and to ‘carefully reflect on whether their attitudes and actions to others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment to love one another.’” (“LDS Church condemns bullying of gay community,” KSL.com, October 12, 2010)


“The Mormon Church chided members today to consider whether their attitudes toward all people — including gays — followed Christian principles, responding to activists’ demand that a church leader withdraw anti-gay statements.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, delivered a petition letter carrying 150,000 signatures to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ headquarters, asking church leader Boyd K. Packer to retract statements that same-sex relationships are unnatural and can be overcome.

Church spokesman Michael Otterson responded with an official church statement, saying belittling others for being different is wrong.

Packer, 86, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made his remarks Oct. 3. He is the second-highest ranking Mormon church leader and the next in line for the presidency of the 13.5 million-member faith.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization, collected the signatures after an e-mail alert to members and supporters — 20 percent of whom are not lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The response to the alert is the largest in HRC history, said Fred Sainz, the group’s vice president of communications.

The petition letter and signatures were delivered in an 800-page stack to the church’s downtown Salt Lake City office building by HRC President Joe Solmonese and leaders from Utah’s gay community and a gay Mormon support group.

Church spokesman Scott Trotter accepted the bundle and thanked Solmonese.

Packer’s remarks came during the fall installment of the church’s twice-yearly general conference. The event is held in the church’s 21,000-seat conference center and broadcast worldwide to millions more.

During his speech, Packer reiterated the faith’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Since the 1990s, the church has worked to defeat marriage equality laws nationwide.” (Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press, ‘Mormon church says cruelty toward gays is wrong,’ San Jose Mercury News, October 12, 2010)


“Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay rights advocate, delivered on Tuesday a petition letter carrying 150,000 signatures denouncing LDS leader Boyd K. Packer’s anti-gay message.…

Solmonese called Packer’s statements ‘inaccurate’ and ‘dangerous.’

‘We’re here today to tell Elder Packer and those in the Mormon Church hierarchy who agree with him that his statements are both factually and scientifically wrong and that more importantly, they are dangerous and are putting millions of lives in great danger,’ Solmonese said at a press conference outside Mormon Church headquarters.…” (“HRC Delivers Petition Against Mormon Leader Boyd Packer’s Anti-Gay Message,” OnTopMag.com, October 12, 2010)


“On Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solomonese delivered a 150,000-signature petition denouncing Elder Boyd K. Packer’s controversial October 2 General Conference declaring that homosexuality was ‘impure and unnatural’ and may be overcome.

At a press conference, Solomonese, who was accompanied by representatives of the American Psychological Association, Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, Equality Utah, and the Utah Pride Center, called Packer’s claims ‘factually and scientifically inaccurate statements that put lives in danger.’…

In response to the petition, Church spokesman Michael Otterson issued the following statement, which I’ll reprint in full:…

It’s a remarkable statement after an eventful, sometimes brutal, and perhaps pivotal week in LGBT-Mormon relations. To be sure, the Church’s statement does not fulfill the HRC’s demands that Elder Packer rescind his talk. Nor does it expand institutional options for LGBT Mormons beyond celibacy, the closet, or excommunication. But it may in fact be the most important official statement on LGBT human rights and Mormon doctrine ever made.

Here’s why—those of us who closely watch LDS discourse on LGBT issues note the following:

1.  The statement uses the words gay and lesbian without scare quotes or the prefacing term ‘so-called.’  In previous statements, the LDS Church has used scare quotes or the phrase ‘so-called’ to interrogate the reality of LGBT identity, opting instead to characterize homosexuality as a condition, i.e., ‘same sex attraction.’

2.  The statement defers to general public usage of the term sexual orientation to denote a protected category of identity.

3.  The statement acknowledges the HRC by name and identifies areas of political common ground.

4.  The statement demonstrates an unprecedented level of responsiveness on the part of the LDS Church to LGBT human rights concerns and advocacy issues and a willingness to join a larger current campaign by faith leaders to denounce anti-LGBT bullying. Going further, the statement originates and articulates a specifically Mormon reason for opposing LGBT bullying, based in our own historical experience as a persecuted minority group.

5.  The statement acknowledges the reality that gay people experience not just sexual but also profound ‘emotional and social’ feelings.

6.  In stating the Church’s ‘doctrinal position’ that ‘we define marriage as between a man and a woman,’ the statement does not reiterate earlier arguments made by LDS officials that the health of American society or civilization as a whole depend upon excluding gay and lesbian people from the right to marry.  It also appears to prepare members to understand that the Church can safely maintain its doctrine on marriage even as nationwide opinion swings in favor of same-sex civil marriage rights. This would signal a tactical shift from the Church strategy in California in 2008, when Mormon officials and operatives depicted the legalization of same-sex marriage as a direct threat to Church doctrine and practices and mobilized members in their defense, to a position more like that adopted by the LDS Church in Argentina last summer, when members were not officially deployed or pressured into anti-same-sex marriage political activism and were instead counseled to review Church doctrine on marriage as articulated in the LDS Proclamation on the Family.

None of this public acknowledgement of the reality and dignity of LGBT experience or deference to mainstream usage of terms like gay and lesbian—none of this—was happening in 2008.

Back then, the LDS Church was so insulated that it managed to raise millions of dollars and generate thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours in support of Proposition 8 without mainstream news sources catching on to the full extent of the Mormon-led campaign until after election day.

Now, just in the last week, we’ve seen a Sunday morning General Conference talk make national headlines within hours, generate a massive national response from voices within and without the Church, be substantially revised for publication to better harmonize with broader LDS efforts towards understanding on LGBT issues, and have that revision covered in the national news media.  We’ve also seen the LDS Church adopt an unprecedented level of forthrightness in its response to the controversy engendered by Elder Packer’s talk and to efforts by national LGBT advocacy groups.

In short, I believe we’ve seen something of a break from the old Mormon patterns of insider-outsider double-talk and insularity we saw during the Proposition 8 campaign, patterns I discussed at some length in a previous post, and which some LDS scholars attribute to a century-old minority mindset and a culture of administrative secrecy rooted in the days when top-ranking Church leaders tried to outwit US government prohibition on the doctrinal practice of polygamy.

I welcome this statement as a demonstration of civility, public engagement, and moral responsiveness.

Of course, the statement does not go as far as many LDS LGBT people and their allies hope. It does not offer institutional welcome or affirmation to LGBT people who want to live full lives as LGBT people. It maintains that LGBT behavior is sinful. It does not create new space for LGBT LDS people to attend church on Sunday with their partners, as I am able to do every week. But it may signal an institutional retreat from Church efforts to intervene in the civil definition of marriage and block legal equality for LGBT people.

Movement is definitely happening.” (Joanna Brooks, “Gay Rights Org Delivers 150,000-Signature Petition to LDS Church,” Religion Dispatches, October 13, 2010)


“Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, flew into Salt Lake City from Washington D.C. earlier this week to call on LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer to ‘correct’ statements he made about same-sex attraction. His group, which expressed concerns that Packer’s speech would negatively affect LGBT youths, delivered a petition with 150,000 signatures to LDS Church headquarters.

A number of LGBT advocates in Utah rallied behind HRC’s effort. In fact, HRC had to rent a small tourist bus to carry everyone from a news conference at the Utah Pride Center to the LDS Church Office Building.

Here’s a run down of what was said at the Utah Pride Center.

Solmonese • ‘Same-sex attraction cannot be repaired, it cannot be washed away and it certainly cannot be changed simply by praying more. … The problem, the danger, with the statements that [Packer] made is that they will be believed as revealed truth and then used by some to rationalize discrimination or violence and by others to perpetuate self loathing or suicide. That is simply not acceptable conduct by a man who should know better.’

Bruce Bastian, a member of HRC’s Utah steering committee • ‘I remember as a student at BYU and as a missionary and as member of a [LDS] bishopric [hearing] what a horrible human being I was for the thoughts I had. I was even told it would be better if I had never been born. There were many days I hoped I would die. … Please stop telling kids they can and must change. There’s nothing wrong with them. God loves them just as they are — of this I bear my solemn witness.’…” (Rosemary Winters, “Utah and D.C. activists spoke out against LDS apostle’s words,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 15, 2010)


“Mormons may not know until the hereafter what causes same-sex attraction, but ‘God loves all his children’ and expects everyone to do the same, an LDS Church leader said Sunday.

While the message — delivered to more than 200,000 Utah Mormons — may not seem significant, the messenger was.

As second counselor in the governing First Presidency, Dieter F. Uchtdorf is one of the highest-ranking leaders in the hierarchy of the nearly 14 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the thorny topic of whether same-sex attraction is inborn.

The gentle tone and emphasis of Uchtdorf’s remarks — spoken at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and beamed to dozens of church buildings — came in the wake of an earlier speech by Boyd K. Packer, senior member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In Packer’s original General Conference speech earlier this month, he said, ‘Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so.’

Packer later changed ‘tendencies’ to ‘temptations’ on the church’s website.

Still, Packer’s speech generated national controversy and protests from those inside and outside the Salt Lake City-based faith, many of whom saw the apostle’s statements as contributing to the self-loathing and suicides of gays.

In response to the outcry, LDS spokesman Michael Otterson issued a strongly worded condemnation of bullying and belittling of gays, saying, ‘Their struggle is our struggle.’

On Sunday, Uchtdorf reiterated the church’s position that it doesn’t know the cause of homosexuality and that it doesn’t matter.

‘Many questions in life, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life,’ Uchtdorf said. ‘Until then, the truth is, God loves all his children, and because he loves us, we can trust him and keep his commandments.’

Some audience members welcomed Uchtdorf’s approach, which seemed more consistent with the church’s position.…

During Sunday’s wide-ranging address, Uchtdorf did not mention the issue of same-sex attractions changing or anything else related to the issue.…” (Peggy Fletcher Stack, “High-ranking LDS leader weighs in on same-sex attraction,” Salt Lake Tribune, October 25, 2010)

Gustav: Whatever you want to say about Boyd K. Packer, my take on him has always been that he very clearly and succinctly stated the nature of the theological problem, which is that if we, as Latter-day Saints, believe X about the role of heterosexuality in the Plan of Salvation, then what do you do with a whole class of people who, it seems, are made this way?

Prince: “There is no place in Mormon Heaven for gay.”

Gustav: Right.

Prince: Isn’t that where he was?

Gustav: Right.  When he said, in that infamous talk, “Why would God do this?”, from my point of view that was the clearest, most succinct statement of the theological challenge.  So you have to get to that place of empathy, and listening and understanding the nature of the dilemma first, which the Church has done; and then you have to ask the theological question.  Then, if you recognize that there is a gap in our theology, that the theology doesn’t account for a reality, then that’s when a church that believes in modern day revelation says, “There are many great things that have yet to be revealed.”

Prince: Haven’t you just described the process that culminated in the 1978 revelation?

Gustav: I think so.

(John Gustav-Wrathall, October 17, 2015)

Packer: Then later, when he teed off on the gays the first time, I was in his office and we were talking about it.  He was puzzled why there was so much retribution and so much disagreement and criticism of that speech.  He was trying to justify and explain how he had interviewed gay Mormons and he had done all this homework, and he thought that because he had done all that, that the spirit of what he was trying to do would come through.  But it didn’t.

Prince: Was this the 2010 General Conference talk?

Packer: Oh, no.  It was the first one.

Prince: I think it was called “To the One.”  [This was published in pamphlet form by the Church in 1978.]

Packer: Yes, several years ago.  This was a long time ago, and the first one actually wasn’t as hateful as the last one.  Anyway, I have a daughter who is gay, and she had to have her name withdrawn from the Church to avoid being excommunicated.  About a year-and-a-half ago, maybe two years ago, Boyd calls me on the phone, out of the blue.  It’s the typical thing, as Donna comes on the phone and says, “Boyd wants to talk to you.”  So we were talking, and he was mainly reminiscing, just talking about my sister and some other things.  Then the topic came around about the gay thing.  I think he was sensitive to the fact that I had a gay daughter, and she was the only one in the family to come out.  There are others in the family, but they don’t dare come out.  It was at that time I said, “Boyd, on this issue you are dead wrong.  You are dead wrong and the Church is hurting a lot of people with its stand.”  I didn’t then say, “Think of all the people who have committed suicide, who have had divorces, who have disowned family members,” but that’s what I meant when I said it.  That was actually the last discussion that I had with him.

Prince: Did he have any response?

Packer: No.  There were times when I would say something like that, and he would come back with this really strong, authoritarian response to it; but he didn’t.  It was more like, “Well, I think I’m right.”  But it wasn’t mean.

Prince: I’m about to ask you a loaded question, but I’ll tip my hand first.  My current project is this very issue, how the Church has dealt with LGBT issues over history.  I got into it initially because of Prop 8, and then saw that it’s a much broader story than just Prop 8, although that’s certainly the centerpiece.

Packer: I’ve written about Prop 8.

Prince: Do you have any hunch as to why he was so strident in his homophobia?

Packer: I really don’t, other than it really is consistent with his toeing the line and marriage between a man and a woman.

(Lynn Packer, September 4, 2015)

Sainz: Boyd Packer.  How could one forget Elder Packer?  We delivered tens of thousands of petitions at the front door of the LDS Church headquarters.  The day before, to the great credit of Bill reaching out to me—it was wonderfully done—he reached out to me and he was like, “I understand you are going to do this petition tomorrow.  Would you care to meet today in order to pave the way so that everything goes fine?”  I was floored.  I was absolutely floored!  So I said, “Yes!”  And I’m glad I did it.

I had viewed them as the enemy, so to speak.  I went over there with Harry Knox, who was then HRC’s director of religion and faith.  I will admit that I had a lot of anger in me.  I had a lot of anger in me.  I grew up a Catholic and I still consider myself a Catholic.  My parents are deeply religious.  So I view religion with a great deal of awe and respect.  I just was floored that a denomination would act so stridently to deny people love.  That’s really what they did in Prop 8, the denial of love.

Bill is a very gentle man.  He puts you at ease so easily.  To his great credit—it was he and Michael Purdy—and Harry Knox is truly one of the world’s nicest human beings ever created in the history of civilization—we sat there for two hours.  I started the conversation by kind of channeling all of my anger and basically saying, “Harry Knox is going to be the nice part of this meeting, but I want to make sure that you all know that I will beat you to a bloody pulp with every professional skill set that I have in the P.R. department, because I think that what you did was absolutely horrendous, and a denial of our human dignity.  So just know that you are about to hear very nice things from Harry, and he is going to put things in very diplomatic terms; but just know that I am a pit bull, and I don’t let go.  And I am not letting go on these issues.”

You have to agree that most meetings would have ended at that point, and people would have been like, “You can see yourself out.  Goodbye.”  But to their great credit, they sat there and listened.  It was an incredible conversation.  I really didn’t know Bill from a hole-in-the-wall.  He proved himself over time.  We have met with him a number of times.

(Fred Sainz, August 15, 2014)

Joe: They gave us a big opening when Boyd Packer said what he said in the General Conference in October 2010.  So post-Prop 8, and then that moment were really openings for us.  Even they felt the negative P.R.  Sharon probably told you the story about going to see them.

Greg: Give me your account of it.

Joe: We were very active in social media.  I think the one thing you’d have to say about the LGBT movement was that we were very skilled at building a movement and building a membership using social media.  One of the things that we did, to great effect, was that when something happened, whether it would be Kobe Bryant saying something that would be anti-gay, or Chick-fil-A would do something, we would mobilize people on social media.  It was Fred Sainz’s idea that we generate a petition.  You know how most non-profits do petitions: “Go tell So-and-so to stop doing whatever.  And by the way, can you give us $25?”  It’s usually a money-raising tactic.  But we got 150,000 people to sign this petition.  Fred’s idea was to print out every single petition.  He printed out 150,000, electronically signed petitions, and we boxed them up.

The national HRC dinner was on a Saturday night in Washington.  I stood up at this dinner and reminded people what had happened, and I said, “Tomorrow afternoon, I am going to take these boxes of petitions and get on a plane, and fly to Salt Lake City and walk up the steps of the LDS building, and knock on the front door and give them to them.”  People went crazy!  They loved that.

Bruce and Jim Dabakis and all these people organized the whole thing.  I don’t think the LDS Church anticipated it, until I announced it on Saturday night, the degree to which there was going to be press.  On Sunday, before I got on the plane, somebody from Public Affairs of the LDS Church called Fred and said, “Can we negotiate this?  None of us want any trouble”—as though I was going to be arrested, or we were going to burn down the building.  He said, “I think we ought to do this in a way that both of us can do this in as civil a way as possible.”

It was a 24-hour negotiation.  We agreed on the building and we agreed on the person I would give them to, and we agreed how far I would come in from the sidewalk.  I wasn’t going to go into the building and I wasn’t going to go to the door; he was going to come out from the door a certain way, and I was going to hand them to him at this agreed upon spot.  Their rationale, which worked to our benefit, was that they had a better sense at that point than I did about how much press would be following me once I got there.  It was a big deal in Salt Lake City.  So their rationale was, “If you try to come in the front door, you’re going to get as far as the security desk, but none of the press is going to, and it’s going to be a complete circus.  So let’s agree on an open space some distance from the front door.”

We pulled up in a van, with all sorts of people, and we walked up the sidewalk and we walked to the assigned spot, and the guy came out.  We were circled by press—there were probably fifty reporters there.  I handed them off, and we agreed that I would say something and he would say something, and we wouldn’t have a confrontation there.  But I would have the opportunity to send my message, and he would have the opportunity to affirm that the message was received.  He turned around and went back inside, and we had a press conference.  I think that was that.

I think it was sometime later that we ended up getting a meeting with the leadership of the Church.  I think it was during our bus tour, which may have been later.  I’m a little foggy on the details; Fred and Sharon would know the exact date.

In the activist world there are an awful lot of people who would have preferred that I take the box and throw it through the window, and smash the glass and try to burn the building down.  But I think that because we were willing to sort of play ball with them, and we understood that the P.R. vulnerability on their part was something they were sensitive to and we should take advantage of it, but them saying, “You can’t come in the building” actually ended up working to our benefit—playing ball with them ended up working to our benefit.

(Joe Solmonese, January 12, 2016)

Williams: Yes, there was all the Hawaii stuff going on.

Prince: And Hawaii was where it started.

Williams: Exactly.  That’s where the anger started to come.  It was not just that my church had certain beliefs about homosexuality; it was also about me.  My church, that created me, all of a sudden was going to war with me.  And at this time we also had Boyd K. Packer’s famous speech about the three great enemies of the Church, and I was one of them.  So all of a sudden, not only was I different, but I was an enemy of the Church.  That was hard.  That was so difficult.  I was angry about it.…

My tactics started to change, as an activist.  That’s when I pulled my stunt with Marlin Jensen [at a showing of Helen Whitney’s documentary, “Forgiveness”].  I was infuriated.  I had just seen the Sundance film, “8: The Mormon Proposition,” that Reed Cowan did.  I have a little cameo in it where I’m yelling at one of the legislators.  Before it was cool to occupy and disrupt everything, I was doing that.  I disrupted some press conference at the legislature, and that made it into the film.

So I had seen the film, and Fred Karger really laid out the money trail quite clearly in that film.  It was a day or two after I had seen that film for the first time that I went to the university.  I had met Helen before and I loved Helen.  Marlin got up to introduce this movie about forgiveness, and I was livid!  I was like, “What hypocrisy!  How dare you?  You have just destroyed marriages and families, and you are going to stand up there and endorse this film about forgiveness?  Who the hell do you think you are?”  I was fuming!  I fumed for the whole film.  Then, I was like, “You don’t get away with this!”  I stood up—you heard it—and I said, “Can we set up faith-and-reconciliation talks so that you can hear about the damage that you have done to gay families?”  Marlin got up and said, “You should talk to the Church Public Affairs Department.”  I was furious!  Of course he would say that!  I caught him off-guard and it wasn’t fair, because I know he’s a good man.  But he survived it.

Then, Darius Gray took me after the Q&A and said, “Troy, you march right over there, and you talk to him now.  Don’t you leave here without talking to him.”  So Darius took me down there, and I took Marlin by the hand and looked at him really closely.  I said, “You’re hurting people.  You have to stop.  You need to repent.”  He said, “Troy, I can’t change—” and I said, “Stop!  You are hurting people.  You need to stop.  You need to repent.”  I kept saying that over and over and over.  Everyone was gathering around us and it was a really awkward moment, but I said, “You have to repent.  You have to stop.  You are hurting families.”

Prince: Do you think it registered on the spot?

Williams: I don’t know.  I know that he went and apologized after that event, at that Oakland ward.  I have no idea if I had any influence on that whatsoever, but it was the first time a Mormon leader had never apologized for anything related to the gay community.

Prince: I think that happened six or seven months later.

Williams: There is that old saying, “Speak, even though your voice is going to quake.”  Someone had to, and no one else ever would stand up to an apostle or other General Authority.

Prince: Did that open any doors for you?

Williams: I don’t know if it opened doors for me, but I got bolder.  I got more skilled at telling my story, and testifying and witnessing.  Helen was mortified by it.  I met with her the next day and she was like, “Troy, that was the wrong thing to do.”  I was like, “Helen, it was the only thing I could do.”  We debated it back and forth.  She said, “Marlin is a saint.”  I said, “I don’t doubt that, and he needs to hear it because no one ever tells the General Authorities that they are hurting people.  No one ever does!  I have nothing to lose, so I can say it.”

(Troy Williams, March 30, 2015)