In a surprise move on April 4, the Mormon Church announced it would immediately begin allowing children of LGBTQ couples to be baptized and that gay couples would no longer be viewed as “apostates,” which is a term used to describe people who deviate from Church teachings.
The Church said it is repealing those two policies, which were introduced in 2015, to “reduce the hate and contention so common today” and to “increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill.”
While many have hailed the announcement as a step forward, the Church stressed that same-sex marriages are still considered “a serious transgression” and that the changes “do not represent a shift in Church doctrine related to marriage or the commandments of God in regard to chastity or morality.” The Church’s website further maintains that sexual activity between people of the same sex is sinful and “undermine the divinely created institution of the family.”
There was also an important caveat attached to the new changes. The children of LGBTQ parents can only be baptized if the family understands “both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.”
The changes drew praise within the Mormon Church’s LGBTQ community and in Utah, where the Church has a strong base of followers. However, many cautioned that the announcement is only an incremental improvement and that the Church must take further action if it wants to create a welcoming environment for its LGBTQ followers.
Tory Williams, the executive director of Equality Utah, thanked Mormon leadership and credited “courageous members” within the Church who pushed for the changes by sharing personal stories about their lives.
“You were heard, and today marks a positive step in teaching our young people we all have value — regardless of our sexual orientation or that of our family members,” Williams said in an email before added, “we have work yet to do.”
Affirmation, which is an LGBTQ group for Mormons, cheered the Church’s announcement but told Gay City News that “there is still much work to be done” to improve the lives of LGBTQ Mormons in church and at home.
“Affirmation remains committed to providing safe spaces of unconditional acceptance for all LGBTQ Mormons and former Mormons, and will continue to work towards the time when every individual who chooses to worship God may do so with full acceptance, fellowship, equality, and love,” the organization said.