More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Mormons Take Steps Toward LGBT Acceptance
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, has often had an antagonistic relationship with the LGBT community and its supporters. Back in 2008, the church was one of the strongest supporters of Proposition 8, which repealed marriage equality in California. Hugo Salinas, an associate director for Affirmation, a group that supports gay and lesbian Mormons, stated in 2006: “Gay and lesbian Mormons are routinely excommunicated from the church [and] cast out from their families […]; Brigham Young University has an embarrassing history of spying on gay and lesbian students [and then] expelling them.”
But we can see slow but sure change in Mormon Church. In 2009, while reaffirming its opposition to marriage equality, the church supported two Salt Lake City ordinances that protect LGBT residents from employment and housing discrimination, calling them “common-sense rights that should be available to everyone.” On August 14, 2011, Mitch Mayne, an openly gay Mormon man in San Francisco, became the executive secretary in the Bishopric of the Bay Ward of the San Francisco Stake of the Mormon Church. Prior to this position, he had regularly attended church and been active in San Francisco’s Mormon community. In addition to his service to the church, Mayne has written about the rejection and turmoil he dealt with because of the Mormon Church’s position on LGBT people. He has also been promoting a new pamphlet from the Family Acceptance Project, which aims to help Mormon families accept their LGBT children – an important step in preventing family rejection, which is at the root of the high levels of homelessness and depression among LGBT youth.
Last year Kevin Kloosterman, then a bishop in the Mormon Church, addressed a crowd of LGBT Mormons and their allies, apologizing for “not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework” on how heart wrenching it can be for someone who is LGBT and Mormon.
This year, even more Mormon groups have also demonstrated their support for the LGBT community. On June third, a contingent of over 300 straight, active Mormons marched in the Utah Gay Pride Parade. They were from a group called Mormons Building Bridges and carried signs that referenced their faith, as well as their support for LGBT people. One woman’s sign read "I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you," a reference to a song many Mormon children are taught.
Another group, Mormons for Marriage, will be marching in San Francisco’s Pride Parade this weekend. In a video posted on CNN, Tresa Edmunds explains why she believes that supporting the LGBT community is important, stating that she “feel[s] a moral obligation to turn around these damaging messages” LGBT people, especially youth, hear from religious leaders.
GLAAD applauds those members of the Mormon Church who are reaching out to show their support for the LGBT community and actively engaging in ways to improve family acceptance for LGBT Mormon youth. We will continue to work with supportive Mormon groups promote LGBT equality. GLAAD will also be supporting many Pride events around the country visit GLAAD’s Pride page for more information.