LGBT Mormons praise ‘first step’ as church ditches anti-gay policy

Gay activists gather at Mormon temple for a "kiss in"

The Mormon Church has been tentatively praised for a welcome “first step” after it ditched an anti-LGBT policy.

On Thursday (April 4) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it would ditch the 2015 policy that branded gay Mormons “apostates.”

The church has been largely praised by prominent figures for reversing the policy, which also banned baptisms for children of same-sex couples.

LGBT+ Mormons and allies praise church policy shift

Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who was raised within the church, tweeted: “Step by step by step… We share our stories, courageously open our hearts, work hard to dispel the myths, and help to make progress for LGBTQ people in all corners of #OurAmericas and the world.”

Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, a frequent campaigner for LGBT+ inclusion within the church, also welcomed the shift.

He said: “progress doesn’t happen overnight. it happens in small steps. today we are one step closer. ♥️”

Dustin Lance Black was raised as a Mormon

Dustin Lance Black was raised as a Mormon (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

The Human Rights Campaign described it as an “important step forward,” while LGBT+ Mormon group Affirmation said: “Affirmation has been a firsthand witness to the damage caused to families within and beyond membership in the church affected by this policy over the past three and a half years.

“[We applaud] the immediate dismissal of the restrictions on children of same-sex couples so that they may now be found equal in the eyes of the church, and the removal of default marking as apostates upon married same-sex couples.

“We also are grateful that families in the church with LGB children or siblings are relieved from the oppressive tone cast upon them by previous policies. Affirmation validates individuals and families within the church and provides space to celebrate this reversal.”

The group added: “[We acknowledge] the steps today as positive, but recognise there is still much work to be done to make the chapels of the church and the homes of families within the church safe and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ persons.”

Not everyone convinced by abrupt Mormon shift

However, not everyone was impressed.

Gay Mormon Neon Trees singer Tyler Glenn described the move as a “crumb,” noting that while same-sex marriage will no longer be grounds for excommunication, it will still be considered a “serious transgression.”

He wrote: “THIS very policy personally sent me and my family on a complete life course shift.

Former Mormon singer Tyler Glenn

Former Mormon singer Tyler Glenn (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

“Don’t forget the lives that were lost to suicide. the pain this policy caused in so many families. This ‘correction’ has nothing to do w/ actual LGBT and everything to do with baptism numbers❌”

He added: “We Are Not Crumbs. We Must Not Accept Crumbs.”

Mormon church leader: We want to reduce hate

Explaining the policy reversal, President Dallin H. Oaks said: “The very positive policies announced this morning should help affected families.

“In addition, our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill.

“We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today. We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications.”

The decision follows years of protests from LGBT+ Mormons and allies, who have long called for reforms to the church’s policies on LGBT+ issues, and staged mass resignations when the initial policy came into effect in 2015.

The church has long opposed LGBT+ rights reforms, but there have been some signs in recent years that its stances are softening.