To be a member of the LGBT community and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always meant walking a tightrope between two worlds. The Church has stated unequivocally that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan for his children. Mormon theology emphasizes the eternal nature of human relationships, particularly traditional marriage and family.
But Church leaders have also emphasized that simply being attracted to someone of the same sex is not a sin, and that God loves all of his children. Those wishing to maintain full membership in the Church could commit to a life of celibacy, and many LGBT Mormons who choose to pursue same-sex relationships still attend church, some even with their partners. The Church even supported anti-discrimination legislation in Utah that included protections for LGBT citizens and released a statement that members would not be punished for supporting same-sex marriage and other gay rights on social media or in other public forums. For LGBT Mormons who wished to be part of the Church, a careful balance between their identity and their faith seemed possible.
That changed in November when the Church introduced a new policy in the Handbook of Instruction, a guide for lay clergy: Members in same-sex marriages would be considered apostates, an excommunicable offense. Children living in same-sex households would be excluded from religious rites, such as baby blessings and baptism, until they turn 18. Once they reach that age, they have the option to disavow same-sex relationships, move out of their parents’ house, and ask to join the Church.