Lien: The Church’s Cruel Stance on Queerness


Sydney Stam

(Graphic by Sydney Stam | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayla Lien, Opinion Writer


The Church of Latter-Day Saints recently came out in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would codify same-sex and interracial marriage. This statement garnered much attention and praise, as for many, it feels like a step in the right direction. It has also gained a fair share of understandable criticism, as the Church explicitly noted its gratitude that the Act “includes appropriate religious freedom protections.”

The LDS Church only changed its views on queerness out of self-gain and alienates LGBTQ+ members.

The Church has a longstanding history of backtracking for personal profit. Mormon settlers applied for statehood for four decades, but Congress continuously refused until the Church renounced polygamy in 1890.

The Church also contains notoriously racist restrictions. Until 1978, Black men couldn’t hold the Priesthood. As part of this restriction, both Black men and women couldn’t serve in certain leadership callings, enter the temple or speak at firesides. The Church claimed the restriction came from God, giving many race-based (and incredibly racist) explanations for it. When people started protesting, suddenly a “revelation from God” happened. Apparently, God was racist only for the first 148 years of the religion’s existence.

Whatever happened to “love one another?”

Same thing, different day. Now the Church claims to support same-sex marriage while also reaffirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. Considering the widespread social acceptance of marriage equality, it isn’t hard to see the reason behind the sudden change in beliefs.

If God loves everyone, why should Black people not have the priesthood? Why shouldn’t gay people marry who they love? Should everyone have multiple wives? These policies were not created by God, but by leaders looking to deepen their wallets and grow their cult.

Historically, the LDS Church has been anti-LGBTQ+, and this hasn’t changed. Queer people have long sat through sacrament meetings touting the sanctity of marriage. Long have we been told it’s between one man and one woman and that’s just “how it is.”

In November of 2015, the Church formally defined marriage equality as apostasy and established disciplinary actions for same-sex couples, including excommunication. The same policy also hurt children of same-sex couples, asking for them to denounce their parents by the age of 18 if they wanted to be baptized and join the Church. While this policy was reversed in April 2019, it was made clear the doctrine on homosexuality would not change.

Continuing the discrimination in obtaining the priesthood, only men can be ordained in the Church. However, openly gay, bisexual and transgender men cannot be ordained.

In February, the Church’s Brigham Young University’s Honor Code changed, removing the section on “homosexual behavior.” Queer students celebrated the change for a few weeks, before receiving word that same-sex romantic behavior still doesn’t align with the University’s rules.

The Honor Code prohibited “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” and those who acted on them could be punished or suspended. After the change, students could no longer be disciplined for dating, holding hands with or kissing people of the same sex, but BYU officials immediately stated there “may have been some miscommunication.”

The ban was reaffirmed, and two people of the same sex cannot hold hands in public. People felt betrayed and baited into coming out.

Utah’s political scene and laws are more conservative because of religion and the religion of the lawmakers, rather than the positions of the voters. Eighty-nine of the 103 lawmakers are members of the LDS Church. The personal beliefs of these lawmakers erode democracy to rapturous applause. One-time state Sen. Jim Dabakis stated that “only after working with Latter-day Saint leaders” was it possible to pass an anti-discrimination bill. The Church’s support means everything in Utah politics, as nothing will get through without it.

The policies these lawmakers create and push hurt queer people, time and time again. Anti-trans bills continue to flood the legislature, often aiming at transgender youth in sports and those trying to transition.

How can we say there’s a separation between Church and state in Utah? We can’t. The Church will veto what it doesn’t like, and pass what it does. Capitol Hill is in its pocket and pocketbook.

The guilt and the shame you feel as a queer person when you’re brought up in the Church is tangible and pervasive. You’re alone in a room full of people, and one wrong move is seen by everyone around you.

I’m not the only one who felt this way. Examples abound of those leaving the Church over treatment of queer people. A study from the University of Georgia found that queer Mormons experience PTSD as a result of the teachings they heard at church. Suicide rates in the state outrank nearly every other state, being 9th in the nation in 2020. Coupled with the high rates of suicide among queer people, queer Mormons are at high risk.

I’m lucky my parents divorced and my mom left the Church. If she hadn’t, my life would be drastically different: either I would never realize I am queer, or I would’ve killed myself.

Being queer and Mormon hurts. The Church supports progressive policies to save itself, rather than out of love for their members. The Church alienates their queer members through their doctrine and their hurtful acts and policies.


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