Church officials insist they haven’t changed the Mormon teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful. However, the website states that Mormons should be loving and respectful toward gays and lesbians, while appealing to gay and lesbian Mormons to stay in the church.
“Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma,” church leaders wrote on the website. “Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective, it can be done.”
Gay rights advocates welcomed the effort while expressing hope that the church would someday accept same-sex marriage.
“My hope that this assists our most vulnerable, our youth, to have a safe place to be able to talk about their identity and maintain a safe place within their families and communities,” said Valerie Balken, of Equality Utah, the state’s largest gay rights advocacy group.
Balken said her organization was alerted earlier this week to the website launch, but was not consulted over the two years the church developed the site.
The site, titled “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction,” states that it reflects the views of the highest authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Church leaders say in the presentation that gay and lesbian Mormons who are not in same-sex relationships can have “full fellowship in the church,” including holding the priesthood and participating in temple rituals — a privilege reserved only for church members in good standing. And the church said it would no longer “necessarily advise” gays to “marry those of the opposite sex.”