In response to your request that your LDS friends let you know their feelings regarding President Packer

s comments during the most recent LDS General Conference, I feel compelled to share these personal thoughts with you. Though, to my knowledge, I don't have any gay family members, I certainly have many gay friends. Since joining the church almost 17 years ago, I have struggled with several of the church's official stances toward certain social/cultural issues. The prevailing attitudes of many LDS church members toward gay church members and non-members alike have been among the most troubling for me. I have several friends who married returned missionaries, had children (and in two cases, grandchildren), then were suddenly informed one day by their spouses that they had always been gay, couldn't continue living the lie that they felt forced to live by their bishops, stake leaders and families, and were leaving their spouses and children in order to live an authentic and honest life! DEVASTATING to EVERYONE--the gay spouse, the hetero spouse, the children, the friends, the community.... I have taught my children that the absolute worst thing that they can do is to lie. If they break a vase while playing with a ball in the living room after I've told them 100 times not to play with balls in the living room, they are much better off being honest and admitting to the disobedience than they are lying about it. If I'm not going to allow them to lie about bouncing a ball in my living room, how in the world would I justify telling them to lie to themselves and others about their sexual orientation? The hypocrisy of encouraging our youth to lie and cover up their true sexual orientation while admonishing them to "be honest in their dealings with their fellow man" in their temple interviews has always been impossible for me to rationalize. Are there some people who choose to live a gay lifestyle? Absolutely. Do those who "choose" a gay lifestyle make up the majority of the gay community? Absolutely not. For members of the church to turn their backs on those who are already struggling to deal with the hatred and bigotry that are inherent to being openly gay in our country seems unChrist-like and inhumane. I don't want to be unnecessarily inflammatory, but I see numerous similarities between attitudes toward Jews in German communities in the early '30's and the attitudes of many church members toward gay church members today. I am NOT suggesting that I believe that the church's next move might be to "round them all up" or anything. I'm simply saying that I'm pretty darn glad that I wasn t born gay, just like many Germans must have felt pretty lucky not to have been born Jewish. Not being a gay church member means not having to choose whether to hide or deny what and who I am or to wear the Star of Shame on my sleeve. Not being gay means that I don't have to fear being ostracized, or sent into financial or emotional ruin because I was born gay. And, because I'm not gay, I don't fear physical harm at the hands of those who hate me because I was born with certain physical traits or because I live a lifestyle that is outside the accepted norm. I was saddened--angered, even--to hear Elder Packer's comments. His lesson was not one that I wish for my children to take to heart. Church doctrine supports marriage between a man and a woman, as well as procreative sexual practices. I don t have any problems or concerns with these beliefs. However, I do not see how it is in the best interests of the church, its members, or the greater community for church leaders to characterize a particular group of people as evil and immoral simply because they do not choose to live a lie. We do not ask infertile couples or those who have completed their families to

choose between lying about their situation, living a celibate lifestyle or being considered evil and immoral members of their church and community. In addition, there are many members who have committed or are currently committing other sorts of evil and immoral acts who are walking around with current temple recommends. I don t have the answers as to how the church can bridge the divide between church doctrine and its applicability to gay members and their families. But I feel certain that expecting gay members to lie about their sexual orientation, or to miraculously alter their body chemistry and physical attributes, or to live a life of celibacy with no hope of ever finding true love and companionship in this life or the next is not the answer. With regard to President Packer s statements suggesting that people aren t born gay and that anyone who is gay is impure and unnatural , I can only say that it is painfully clear on school playgrounds and in school hallways that, for many youth, being gay is not a choice. Children often pick up on the differences between those who are born gay and those who are straight as early as kindergarten. For most of the gay people I know, same-sex attraction is simply not a choice, it is not something they would wish for, and it is not a lifestyle that they would seek out given any ability to have fulfilling heterosexual relationships. Even my gay friends do not wish for their children to be gay. In my opinion, for members of the church to deny that they don't notice differences in many gay children years before they are old enough to make choices regarding their sexuality is to deny truth and honesty. Regardless of any uncomfortable feelings church members might have regarding the gay lifestyle, we should never allow those feelings to develop into a fear or hatred of God's children who are sent to this earth with traits that don't fit into our picture of "ideal". It is sad to me that a church that teaches that piercings and tattoos are evil because they alter God's perfect physical creation would also espouse attempting to change and deny the very essence of a person s being. I would never expect that the LDS church would encourage homosexuality or recognize gay marriage. Church doctrine is quite clear on both of those issues. Those who disagree with LDS church doctrine have the right to be a member of any church that they choose. However, I cannot see how it goes against church doctrine to simply accept that some church members are endowed by their creator with certain traits that cannot be overcome by any amount of prayer or therapy. A simple acknowledgement by the church that many gay church members are born with same-sex attraction, that gay members are beloved creations of their Heavenly Father, and that the church s attempts at fixing gay members through therapy are rarely , if ever, truly successful would go a long way in salving painful wounds in our church and communities. It would also send a clear message that gay LDS church members, as well as non-members, are to be loved, respected and supported in our community even if the church does not condone the choices of those who actively pursue a gay lifestyle. I think that, in time, we will be given a revelation regarding the fair and loving treatment of gay members of the church akin to the one concerning African-Americans holding the priesthood. I can't foresee the church ever allowing the sealing of gay unions in the temple or anything of that sort. But church leaders openly espousing hatred of gays (whether or not that is their intention), suggesting that God s creations are imperfect and inherently evil, and counseling gay members to lie and deceive others as a preferable lifestyle choice are not practices that I can see being tolerated by the church membership--especially outside of Utah--for much longer.

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