While many families belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) gathered for Family Home Evening, a Monday-night tradition where Mormon families meet to enjoy each other and read scriptures, a similar celebration went on in downtown Salt Lake City on Nov. 9. Same-sex families and allies gathered at the Impact Hub event center for Family Homo Evening—an event aimed at celebrating LGBTQ families.
Family Homo Evening is one of many events in response to the new LDS church policy that restricts blessings and baptisms for children whose parent, or parents, are part of a same-sex relationship.
“I think that [Family Homo Evening] is a good rallying point for the community to come together in a positive way,” said Claire Gorton, graduate of the University of Utah. “It’s to show solidarity—not to downplay anyone else's faith, feelings, social circles or groups, but to make something where you can have your own inclusive area.”
The policy has left some families in an uncomfortable situation as children who choose not to denounce their parents’ lifestyle may only be baptized as adults with permission from their bishop and from the church government, which is known as the First Presidency.
“I think [Family Homo Evening is] important as a way for the community to pull together and support one another in a time that’s really difficult for a lot of families,” said Karl Gerner, Westminster alumni.
However, many LDS members claim this decision is meant to support families.
“We, [the LDS church], want to protect the organization of the family,” said Andrew Paulson, junior accounting major. “I don't want children to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the church are very different.”
Tanner Peacock, sophomore public health major, agreed with Paulson.
“How can a parent give the permission to something they don't believe in?” Peacock said. “[The children in question] will be living in a household that won't always be respecting the child's beliefs.”
However, many people with ties to the LDS church have spoken against the policy. On Nov. 14, just one week after the policy was confirmed by church leaders, over 2,000 members rallied near LDS church offices to submit their letters of resignation in person and later online.
Madison Henrie, pre-med University of Utah student, has not been an active member of the LDS church for over a year.
“I think this policy is morally wrong and the nail in the coffin of my faith in that church,” Henrie said. “I'm upset by those who claim to be allies or tolerant and why they are not more skeptical.”
Henrie discussed how the policy felt like a politically-driven dialogue from the church.
“The new policy feels very politically motivated and falls into trend with many similar social policies since the establishment of the church, which are discriminatory, intolerant and hurtful toward those of faith,” Henrie said. “Thirty years ago, the church was concerned with whiteness and now they're concerned with straightness.”
Recently, the LDS church has released videos attempting to clarify the policy change and has stated that it is simply a change in policy and not a revelation from God. However, that has done little to quell concern for some.