Petitioners to Mormons: Soften gay marriage stance

Posted on 25 Jun 2009 at 7:38pm
By Jennifer Dobner Associated Press

Effort comes from current, former Mormons

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of current and former Mormons at odds with the church’s position on gay marriage and its political activism to ban it has launched a Web site asking the faith to soften its stance.

The site, www.ldsapology.org, includes a petition for reconciliation that calls on leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to end what it says are hurtful anti-gay policies and its involvement in anti-gay politics and fundraising.

Janeen Thompson, a site organizer, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the petition is a direct reaction to Mormon church involvement in a coalition that worked last fall to pass Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California’s state constitution.

A May ruling by the California Supreme Court upheld the vote.

"We felt prompted to undertake this project on behalf of the gay community whose rights have been taken away largely because of the LDS involvement in the campaign," said Thompson, a lifetime Mormon who lives in Boulder Creek, Calif.

Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said Monday, June 22 that the church had no comment on the site.

As of Monday, 162 individuals had signed the petition. Thompson said signatures will be gathered through the fall and organizers plan to deliver the petition to the church’s Salt Lake City headquarters Nov. 4 — the anniversary of the 2008 Proposition 8 vote.

Like many religions, Mormonism teaches that traditional marriage is an institution ordained by God and that homosexual sex is a sin. Gays are welcome to attend church but must remain celibate to retain service callings.

The church has been consistent in its position and actively worked against marriage equality legislation since the 1990s.

Following the November vote, the church became a target for protests, vandalism and hate speech. Church leaders have called for civility in the discussion of the issues and say the dialogue is not helped when people on both sides demonize each other.

Site organizers — who include Mormons, non-Mormons, gays and heterosexuals living in several states — agree.

Site material includes a chronicle of church involvement in gay marriage legislation, personal stories from gay and lesbian Mormons, the current Mormon pamphlet on the theology related to homosexuality and a list of known gay Mormons who have committed suicide.

The church once taught homosexuality was an illness and offered cures such as electroshock therapy, medication, marriage to heterosexual women and other therapies as treatments. In 2007, Dallin Oaks, of the faith’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, acknowledged the past use of some abusive therapies and said they had been phased out.

Cheryl Nunn of Santa Cruz, California, owns the site domain. She said her discomfort with those past practices raised her awareness of gays in the church. Last fall, Nunn and Thompson became active in the campaign against Proposition 8, attending marches and rallies.

Nunn is unequivocal about wanting an apology.

"Most likely that may not happen, but any reduction in aggressive Mormon Church fund raising, sermons to campaign and block vote or to promote anti-gay legislation, would mean the petition message had been heard."

On the Net: LDS Apology: www.ldsapology.org
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: www.lds.org

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