In December of 2015, I wrote a column titled, “Hooray! I’m an Apostate!” which discussed the then newly-announced Mormon Church policy classifying married same-gender couples as apostates and forbidding children raised by these couples from being full-fledged members of the church. Those kids could, of course, change their status when they became adults and disavowed their parents’ marriage.
I received a surprising amount of flack for that column, but not from straight LDS readers. No, people who were offended by the Mormon leadership’s decision felt I wasn’t tough enough, hadn’t been properly outraged by this egregious policy.
Instead I had advocated that what the Mormon Church does is its business. The protests by Equality Utah, the requests for dialogue from then newly-elected Mayor Biskupski gave, in my opinion, far too much weight to a policy that affected a very small number of LGTBQ people.
Now the Mormon Church has done a complete about face. No, they’re not accepting same-gender marriage, but gay couples are no longer apostates. Kids raised by LGBTQ parents can now be blessed and baptized and partake in every other aspect of the religion. I guess God changed his mind about the subject. And I think that’s great. It still doesn’t impact me nor the overwhelming majority of gay people – even in Utah – but I’m happy for the people who view this as good for them and their families.
What I find most interesting about the change in policy is what seems to be its genesis. It wasn’t the actions of advocacy groups or politicians. It wasn’t the thousands of not-so-active church members formally demanding their names be removed from the Mormons’ records. It wasn’t even the crisis public relations firestorm it ignited. It was rank-and-file Mormons telling their church leaders, “This just isn’t right.”
It would seem that – just like the faithful of other religions – when run-of-the-mill Mormons have openly gay family members, when they count among their friends gay couples with kids, they have a hard time seeing the justification for a policy that they see as hurtful. And that’s why I stand by my previous column.
Am I glad for the change of heart the Mormon leadership has shown? Absolutely. I know a lot of openly gay parents for whom this is amazingly welcome news. I also think it’s a great step in helping to establish a still tenuous relationship with the LGBTQ community. But what the Mormon Church decides for its faithful is of no concern to me. Just as the decisions of Methodists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or any other religion of which I am not an adherent have no impact on me.
When we as a community publicly question any religion’s policies, we give greater credence and importance to them than is deserved. These policies don’t affect the LGBTQ community, they affect the LGBTQ members of that particular religion. If you don’t like a faith’s belief system, you don’t have to follow it.
I don’t want any religion – including my own – to have a voice in public discourse about LGBTQ rights. (It’s one of my major issues with the Mormon faith.) So, I certainly don’t want to make religious policy a public matter undeservedly important to the LGBTQ community as a whole. I refuse to give any religion that power.
As far as this new policy toward gay couples and their kids, well, I guess Hooray! I’m not an apostate! But who cares? What they think is of no concern to me.
If you’d like to read the original “Hooray! I’m an Apostate!” column, you can find it online at https://qsaltlake.com/news/2015/12/17/whos-your-daddy-hooray-im-an-apostate/