Leaders of the largest world-wide advocacy and support group for gay Mormons announced today that they intend to keep their date to be in Salt Lake City to discuss ways in which they and the LDS Church can work together to better minister to church members who are gay and to their families. In February of this year, leaders of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons had invited the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to meet with them to discuss areas of mutual concern. LDS President Thomas Monson accepted the invitation, and, in early April, the meeting was set for Monday, August 11, in Salt Lake City. On July 24, the church declared in an e-mailed letter that they were postponing the meeting until next year.
Executive Director Olin Thomas has confirmed that the Affirmation Executive Committee members scheduled to attend the historic meeting have secured a meeting location and will be in Salt Lake City, ready to meet with President Monson or any other General Authority of the Church at 9:00 AM Monday morning as planned. Thomas, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, noted that Affirmation has no paid officers or staff and that leaders travel at their own expense, using vacation and leave time from their regular jobs.
The group has called a meeting with members of the press for 10:00 AM, Monday, August 11, at which they will present the material that would have been presented in the original meeting.
Utah holds one of the highest suicide rates in the United States. Affirmation has documented over 30 suicides of gay Mormons, and Affirmation leaders believe the LDS leaders have contributed to these tragedies by the way they talk about and to gay people. Tonight, a gay teenager will be thrown out onto the street by his or her LDS family, contributing to an above-average homeless rate for adolescents in the Mountain West and Northwest states. Throughout the church, families are being broken apart, often forever, because family members don’t know how to deal with a loved one who tells them that he or she is gay.
“In recent years, the Church’ view towards gay and lesbian people has changed, and Church leaders now recognize that being gay is a biological characteristic,” noted David Melson, Affirmation’ Senior Assistant Executive Director. “The items that we had planned to discuss all focus on education and on toning down some of the rhetoric. Nothing that we will be proposing requires any change in doctrine.”
“We are concerned at the Church’ decision to not attend the meeting on August 11. The deaths, the homelessness, and the grief that occur because of well-intentioned but misguided practices are real, and they must all stop, now.”