SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon church officials have issued a rule change that says members in same-sex marriages can be kicked out and their children must wait until they’re 18 and disavow homosexual relationships to be baptized.
The revisions triggered a wave of anger, confusion and sadness for a growing faction of LGBT-supportive Mormons who were buoyed in recent years by church leaders’ calls for more compassion and understanding for LGBT members.
“It feels like they are extending an olive branch and hitting you with it,” said Wendy Montgomery, who is Mormon and has a 17-year-old gay son. “It’s like this emotional whiplash.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disseminated the handbook changes this week to local church leaders around the world. The goal was to provide clarity to lay leaders who run congregations, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. He noted the church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages.
“While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership,” Hawkins said in a statement.
Montgomery said Friday the news left her son sobbing and forced her and her husband to consider leaving a religion they’ve belonged to for generations. The couple has been trying desperately to stay in the church despite a harsh reception to their son coming out.
Montgomery also echoed a response shared by many on social media: She can somewhat understand the hard stance on same-sex marriage, but she can’t comprehend singling out gay couple’s children.
“We just put a scarlet letter on these kids,” Montgomery said. “This isn’t my church. I don’t see God in it. I don’t see divinity it. It just feels evil.”