Mormon church issues rules aimed at gay members, their kids – Yahoo News


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church officials have issued a rule change that says members in same-sex marriages can be kicked out and their children must wait until they’re 18 and disavow homosexual relationships to be baptized.

The revisions triggered a wave of anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBT-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more compassion and understanding for LGBT members.

“It feels like they are extending an olive branch and hitting you with it,” said Wendy Montgomery, who is Mormon and has a 17-year-old gay son. “It’s like this emotional whiplash.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disseminated the handbook changes this week to local church leaders around the world. The goal was to provide clarity to lay leaders who run congregations, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. He noted the church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages.

“While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership,” Hawkins said in a statement.

Montgomery said Friday the news left her son sobbing and forced her and her husband to consider leaving a religion they’ve belonged to for generations. The couple has been trying desperately to stay in the church despite a harsh reception to their son coming out.

FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2013, file photo, Wendy Montgomery poses for a photograph in Salt Lake City …

Montgomery also echoed a response shared by many on social media: She can somewhat understand the hard stance on same-sex marriage, but she can’t comprehend singling out gay couple’s children.

“We just put a scarlet letter on these kids,” Montgomery said. “This isn’t my church. I don’t see God in it. I don’t see divinity it. It just feels evil.”

Nathan Kitchen, a gay Mormon with five children, said the news left him devastated and angry about the quandary his children now face. The 47-year-old dentist was married to a woman for 18 years before a recent divorce.

“I am stunned right now at how I’m being labeled and how my children are being marked,” said Kitchen, of Gilbert, Arizona. “It’s almost like they now have to choose between a gay father and a church that they love.”

The changes come as other religious groups that oppose gay marriage struggle with how to approach the issue of same-sex spouses’ children.

FILE – In this Sept. 11, 2014, file photo, the angel Moroni statue sits atop the Salt Lake Temple, a …

The new rules stipulate that children of parents in gay or lesbian relationships — be it marriage or just living together — can no longer receive blessings as infants or be baptized around age 8. They can, however, be baptized and serve missions once they turn 18, but only if they disavow the practice of same-sex relationships; no longer live with gay parents; and get approval from their local leader and the highest leaders at church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

The church views these key milestones as acts that bind a person to the faith and as promises to follow its doctrine.

The changes align with the way the church addresses children in polygamous families, said Matthew Bowman, associate professor of history at Henderson State University.

That fact wasn’t lost on Mormons interpreting the new rules.

“I am no better now than an illegal polygamist,” Kitchen said.

Scott Gordon, president of FairMormon, a volunteer organization that supports the church, said: “It certainly makes a statement about how they feel about it.”

Gordon said he understands why some find the changes jarring and consider them mean-spirited toward children. But, he believes they’re intended to protect gay couples and their children by allowing the kids to mature and make the difficult decision at 18 about whether to become fully invested in a religion that holds as a root tenant that their parents’ lifestyle is a sin.

“The idea of family is not just a peripheral issue in the Mormon church. It’s core doctrine. It’s a central idea that we can be sealed together as a family and live together eternally,” Gordon said. “That only works with heterosexual couples.”

The handbook revisions also for the first time list being in a same-sex relationship as an offense that can lead to being ousted from the religion. This is a category known as apostasy, which until now has been reserved primarily for people who practice polygamy, teach inaccurate doctrine or publicly defy guidance to church leaders.

Last month, two high-ranking church leaders delivered speeches that gave LGBT advocates hope that the faith was moving toward greater acceptance. The leaders reiterated the religion’s commitment to promoting families led by married heterosexual couples but also urged people not to shun those with opposing views.

That message of “fairness of all” appeared to distance the faith from the blowback that came when it was a major backer of California’s gay marriage ban in 2008.

Mormons appear to be slowly growing more accepting of homosexuality, albeit at rates that still put them among the least accepting among major religions, a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows.

In a survey done last year, 36 percent of Mormons said homosexuality should be accepted by society. That’s up from 24 percent in 2007, the last time Pew conducted its U.S. Religious Landscape Study.

Support for gay marriage is lower, with just 25 percent of Latter-day Saints approving such unions.

Kitchen is currently single but hopes to one day marry again, this time to a man. More pressing is how he’ll tell his five children, ages 11 to 23, about the new rules. It is his weekend with the kids, and as of Friday afternoon, he hadn’t decided how to address it.

In the past two years, they have learned their father is gay and endured their parents’ divorce.

“This is very bad position to put children in,” Kitchen said. “It will be devastating to them when they find this out.”

Jimmy Carter Says Jesus Would Approve Of Gay Marriage

Jimmy Carter Says Jesus Would Approve Of Gay Marriage
HuffPost Live | By Ryan Buxton

Faith is important to former President Jimmy Carter, and he writes about it extensively in his new memoir A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety. But his religious beliefs don’t keep him from supporting every American’s right to marry the person they love.

HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill asked Carter on Tuesday whether he believes Jesus would approve of gay marriage, and Carter said he does.

“I believe Jesus would. I don’t have any verse in scripture. … I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” he said.

So Gay Marriage Biblically Offends You? Then you Should Read This. Huffington Post Gay Voices

So Gay Marriage Biblically Offends You? Then you Should Read This…
Posted: 07/06/2015 4:48 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

I want to start by saying that I am a Christian. I always have been and always will be… and I’m also a gay woman who is happily married to a beautiful British Woman named Megan. Since the recent Supreme Court ruling of legalizing same-sex marriages in the United States, I have seen the ugly and the uglier come out in people I never expected. Having moved to live with my wife in the UK, I find myself in awe at the complete and utter ignorance that has been clogging up my news feed and other social medial outlets in the past few days from my so-called American friends back in the South. It’s important to state that I’m not generalizing all, as I’ve also seen a positive response from those Christian in the South; even including support from an amazing pastor. However, it saddens me that amongst the many rainbow-colored pictures on my feed, there is also a great deal of hatred.

What I don’t understand is quite simply, this: why does gay marriage bother people so much? If you are making an unnecessary palava because your offended by gay marriage then you seriously need to look at your own life and educate yourselves a bit. If the sole reason you feel that gay marriage is wrong because it’s a sin, and the Bible tells you this is wrong, then I sure as hell hope you don’t have bacon with your eggs or indulge in shrimp. Oh, or better yet, do you have any tattoos? Ever been drunk, told a while lie or been divorced? Yep, whoops. Those are all sins, too. And all sins are equal, right? I don’t see anyone going off the handle because of any of these ‘sins’ and I most certainly don’t see protests or hurtful propaganda against those. Just because you disagree with something — and we all have the right to do so — it is an absolute disgrace to treat the LGBT community the way you do. What if we treated all sins in this way? Bacon eaters would be doomed.

Therefore, if gay marriage or ‘homosexuality’ doesn’t affect you personally in the way you live your life in any way, why do you feel the need to even get involved? Why worry about something that is, frankly, none of your business? For instance, I’m not divorced, but many people I know are, and I’m not going to judge them. We shouldn’t judge anyone for the way they live their life. If you don’t agree with gay marriage, then don’t have a gay wedding. Simple.

I know what you must be thinking. If the LGBT community can protest and stand up for their rights, then why can’t Christians? They have every right to stand up for what they believe in also… To a a degree, yes. Christianity and gay rights will always butt-heads. Luckily, we have the Equality Act 2010 in the UK, where we’ve seen it in the favor of gay rights; e.g. where a gay couple were wrongly turned away from a B&B due to the owners Christian views, to in favor of Christianity; e.g. the nurse who was wrongly fired for telling her lesbian colleague she’s committing a sin. I don’t expect the battles to ever fully cease, but choose your battles wisely. Is this really worth your time? Could your time not be better spent with showing kindness and acceptance — isn’t that what being a Christian is truly about, rather than showing hatred? It is not your duty to judge and tell others how to live theirs to ensure your angelic conscious is clear. However, it does change the lives of the LGBT community and gives us freedom and the same rights as anyone else. This means that now my wife and I, if we ever decide to move back to the U.S., can do this freely and can move to any state. Your hatred towards this is unjust and unfair and don’t even try to the quote the Bible at me; you may want to actually read it first.

To all of the haters, how would you feel if your rights were completely stripped from you because you had a divorce or because you had a baby out of wedlock, for instance? How would you like someone judging and telling you that you’re going to hell because of this?

As a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe that God does not make mistakes and he would not have accidentally made millions of people (and animals) gay by chance. We are all who we are for a reason and no one should ever make you feel bad for that. If anything, my relationship with God is better than ever, and I know that I am definitely not going to hell or that my lifestyle is wrong. It’s important for people to know that you can be a Christian and gay. You do not have to choose one or the other. We need more people like Christian singer Vicky Beeching, who came out as a lesbian last year, to look up to as role models.

So, my dear fellow Christians, from one Christian to another, please mind your own business and PLEASE make sure that your hands are clean before you point your finger at me and my community. Amen.

The next front in battle over gay rights – The Hill

The next front in battle over gay rights

Greg Nash
By Lydia Wheeler – 07/05/15 01:38 PM EDT
The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage opens the door to host of new benefits for same-sex couples, but claiming them means coming out of the closet to employers who may not share the court’s opinion.

That’s why gay rights advocates are hoping to ride the momentum of the court’s landmark decision and push for workplace protections they say are needed to allow gay and transgender people to live openly.

“People do have to live in fear,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Freedom for All Americans. “Now you can go get married, but to come to work and live openly as a married person means you are coming out and that could be a real problem for people who work in organizations that are not supportive.”

In the fight for nondiscrimination laws, Freedom for All Americans plans to follow the same general playbook that Freedom to Marry, the group it’s modeled after, used in the fight for marriage equality.

Though the new group has a separate leadership structure, it plans to tap many of the same donors that funded the push for legalized gay marriage.

But the endgame will be different, with advocates planning to target Capitol Hill, rather than the courts.

“The only way to gain fully guaranteed statutory protections is to get something passed through Congress,” McTighe said. “Unlike marriage, which we knew would be decided by the court, this is going to take an act of Congress that the President will need to sign.”

On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced plans to move forward in the coming weeks with legislation to protect LGBT employees.

The measure would add gender identity and sexual orientation to federal statutes that now only prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The effect, Cicilline said, would ensure that LGBT Americans are free from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education and jury service.

The group also plans to take the fight to states around the country, which have widely disparate statutes on their books.

The District of Columbia and 17 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington — have broad laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Another three states — New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin — have similar policies in place, though they exclude transgender people. Two states —Massachusetts and Utah — offer protections, but only in employment and housing.

In 28 states, there aren’t any protections for LGBTs.

The Supreme Court’s ruling has no bearing on employment law in those states, because the same-sex marriage case questioned only whether states were acting unconstitutionally by enacting state bans on the practice.

“If a private employer fires someone for being gay, there is no state action so there’s no impact,” said Neal Katyal, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells, who formerly served as Acting Solicitor General for the U.S.

“This decision doesn’t have a strict legal impact in the private employment sphere, but it is a huge shot in the arm, a huge boost, to those fighting for anti-discrimination laws at the state and federal level.”

Those who opposed same-sex marriage are prepared to fight any initiative to implement laws they believe would infringe on their own rights and religious beliefs.

“One of the first things that the pro–life movement did after Roe v. Wade was protect the right of conscience for all American citizens to never have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion if it violated their beliefs,” noted Ryan Anderson, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“So in the same way, the pro-marriage movement will need to protect our rights not to be coerced or discriminated against by the government into violating our belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anderson said pro-life advocates have never accepted Roe v. Wade as the final word about abortion, just as pro-marriage advocates should not accept Obergefell v. Hodges as the final word about marriage.

But gay rights advocates, believing they have the wind at their back, intend to push an even more ambitious agenda, one that includes an increasingly visible transgender community.

“I think the root of almost all discrimination based on our sexual orientation is because we are not conforming to proper gender norms,” Kate Kendell, executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said.

“If we can make headway in having there be an understanding that gender identity is non-threatening, not only will we see significant gains in protections for the transgender community, but there will be a rebound benefit for lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals as well.”