Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons celebrated 30 years of support and advocacy on September 18-20. More than 200 members from across the country convened in Salt Lake City, Utah, to explore next steps toward equality in the Mormon Church and society.
GLAAD staff was on hand to provide media assistance for a press conference where Affirmation launched its “Keep Them and Love Them” website. The site provides accurate information in accessible language to prevent family and church rejection when a loved one comes out. People who are coming out, their families and church leaders need accurate information to reduce homelessness, despair and suicide.
Affirmation’s director of youth work, Robert Moore, shared his story of being a seventh generation Mormon who was thrown out of his family's home as a teen when they discovered he was gay. He was homeless for many months but worked to support himself. Today, he says, “We cannot keep treating our young people like trash.”
GLAAD staff helped Affirmation with media releases and prepared them for follow-up television interviews. With coverage by the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Deseret News and local Fox TV, hundreds of thousands of Utah residents know that gay Mormons are shining a light on the harm caused by misinformation and discrimination.
The high profile role of Mormons in the Proposition 8 campaign in California mobilized an increasing number of pro-LGBT Mormons and ramped up additional political actions to urge Utah government officials and Mormon leaders to support pro-LGBT legislation and families with gay members. While up-front funding of anti-equality work has diminished, leaders in Iowa recently pointed toward the well-known anti-equality group, National Organization for Marriage, as a conduit for Mormon monies.
Affirmation’s media engagement paves the way for two separate early October meetings with Utah Governor Gary Herbert. One is with the Foundation for Reconciliation and the other is with leaders of Equality Utah. Both meetings were precipitated by earlier media work by the Foundation for Reconciliation as assisted by GLAAD in response to Utah’s Governor comparing legal protections for LGBT people to legal protections for “blue-eyed blonds.”