By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Kevin Kloosterman, a former Mormon bishop, said he “came out” last year – just not in the way that many people associate with coming out.
“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” Kloosterman said in an interview with CNN.
Though not speaking on behalf of the church, the then-bishop stood in front of a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered.
Donning a suit and tie, Kloosterman was visibly shaken, struggling to find the right words as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry – deeply, deeply sorry,” Kloosterman told the group in a speech that was captured on video. “The only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes with your loved ones, with your wards (Mormon congregations), with your leaders. And encourage them in this repentance process.”
Kloosterman’s apology was just one example of what many Mormons and church watchers see as a recent shift in the Mormon community’s posture toward gays and lesbians, including by the official church itself.
Though the church’s doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed, and the church remains opposed to same-sex marriage, many say the church is subtly but unmistakably growing friendlier toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including voicing support for some gay rights.
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Students at the church-owned Brigham Young University recently posted an “It Gets Better” video about the gay and lesbian community there, while a gay Mormon in San Francisco was selected last year for a church leadership position.
A new conference series on gay and lesbian Mormons – the same one Kloosterman addressed last year – is seeing an uptick in popularity.
Church spokesman Michael Purdy would not comment on whether church members are changing their stance toward gay and lesbian issues but said in an e-mail message: “In the Church, we strive to follow Jesus Christ who showed immense love and compassion towards all of God’s children.”
Purdy wrote, “If members are becoming more loving and Christ-like toward others then this can only be a positive development.”
‘It is definitely getting better’
The Brigham Young students who taped the pro-gay video this month were contributing to a popular video series meant to inspire hope in young people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality identity.
The video featured students telling stories of being gay at Brigham Young, sharing tales of heartache, loss and even suicide.
“It kind of is a very different world to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, a fifth-year senior and acting president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction, the group that posted the video.
Explain it to me: What’s Mormonism?
“We put out the message for youth that are going through this, and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago, and it gets better and there is a place for you,” she said.
Though chastity is a requirement at Brigham Young, gay and lesbian students say they are under more scrutiny. The school’s honor code says that “homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates” the code.
But Jensen said reaction to the video, which has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Carri Jenkins, an assistant to Brigham Young's president, told CNN that the production of the video is not a violation of the honor code and that the students will not be punished.
The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”
Jensen said that while gay and lesbian Mormons face a tough road, she sees a shift toward greater acceptance. It is definitely getting better within the church, she said. “They are not so quick to judge. They understand that they don’t understand everything. I am glad I can be a little part of it.”
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Some scholars of Mormonism, such as Columbia University’s Richard Bushman, said they see the very existence of such a gay rights group at Brigham Young as a step toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.
“The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,” Bushman said. “Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgment – that is really that last decade I would say.”
Most gay Mormons point to 2008’s push for Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state but has faced legal challenge in the courts, as a low point in the relationship between the church and gay and lesbian community.
Mormons make up 2% of California’s population, but they contributed half of the $40 million war chest used to defend Proposition 8, according to a Time magazine report.
The church’s Proposition 8 activism angered many gay rights groups around the country, with some labeling the church “bigoted,” “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”
But church officials pushed back against the perception that the Proposition 8 backlash has provoked a Mormon softening on gay and lesbian issues.
“Many positive relationships have come from the Church’s experience in supporting traditional marriage in California,” Purdy, the church spokesman, said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.
Purdy draws a distinction between being against same-sex marriage and against equality for gays and lesbians.
He reiterated that the church was “strongly on the record as supporting traditional marriage,” but he said its stance should never be used as justification for violence or unkindness.
“The Church’s doctrine has not changed but we certainly believe you can be Christ-like, loving and civil, while advocating a strongly held moral position such as supporting traditional marriage,” Purdy wrote in an e-mail message.
“We do not believe that strong support of traditional marriage is anti-gay,” he wrote. “We love and cherish our brothers and sisters who experience same gender attraction. They are children of God.”
Church doctrine says that sex outside marriage is a sin and can lead to excommunication. Since gay people cannot be married in the church, any sex for them would be premarital and, therefore, sinful.
“The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear,” the church’s website says. “It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.”
Openly gay and a church leader
Mitch Mayne seems to relish his role as a lightning rod.
Mayne, an openly gay Mormon who blogs about homosexuality and the church, received the calling – a term Mormons use for being invited into a church position – in August.
Mayne is now executive secretary in a San Francisco ward of the church.
“I view myself as gay and being completely whole as being gay,” Mayne said.
Many observers of Mormonism say Mayne’s calling marked a unique moment in church history. Purdy said that Mayne’s appointment is “not unique,” but it’s hard to find precedent for an outspokenly gay executive secretary.
Mayne said he sees his job as building bridges with the gay community in San Francisco and showing them “there are pockets in the Mormon Church where you can be yourself.”
The biggest obstacle toward building those bridges is the threat of excommunication, said Mayne, who told CNN that in some wards just being gay can lead to expulsion from the church.
According to church doctrine, a formal disciplinary council can be called at the request of church leader.
While the leaders of the church mandate councils called for murder, incest or apostasy, it has a long list of reasons to call a disciplinary council.
According to the church’s website, the list of reasons includes “abortion, transsexual operation, attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations. …”
Some wards are observing that guidance while others aren’t, Mayne said.
“Here in the Bay Area ... we are no longer seeking out LGBT members of the church and excommunicating them,” Mayne said. “Our role is to bring people closer to the Savior, so if we are routinely excommunicating people, then we are really not doing our job.”
Mayne said he believes the challenge is to convince church leaders that they don’t ever have to excommunicate gay members.
And he said the Proposition 8 campaign was the “least Christ-like thing we have ever done as a church.”
“Not only did we alienate gays and lesbians, but we alienated their parents, their friends, those who support them – the ripple effect went way beyond the gay community, and I don’t think we were prepared for such a negative fallout,” Mayne said. “I think the church deserved the black eye they received.”
He added, “As a result of that really horrible time, I think we are entering a really good time to be a gay Mormon. It is getting better.”
‘Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off’
When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks, the City Council of Salt Lake City listens. At least the council seemed to in 2009 when it voted on an ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgendered residents in housing and employment.
"The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage,” church spokesman Michael Otterson told the council.
Shortly after the church’s expression, the City Council approved the measure unanimously.
Many gay rights activists said they saw the move as an olive branch after the Proposition 8 debate.
“The tone and the culture is evolving, and the way the LGBT people are being treated is changing. I don’t think the church’s policy has caught up to that change in culture,” said Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “The Mormon church hasn’t gotten nearly as politically involved as they had since 2009.”
Though Murray sees the church lobbying for anti-discrimination laws as a positive step, he said the church’s shift is more about style than substance.
“It is going to take a lot of intentional effort to actually prove they are different,” Murray said. “That burden, because of the really public nature of their support of Prop 8, falls harder on the Mormon church than others.”
Joanna Brooks, a popular Mormon blogger and president of Mormon Stories, a nonprofit group that facilitates conversations on Mormon issues, echoes Murray’s sentiments.
She said she sees the church’s stance as challenging gay Mormons to choose between the religion they most likely grew up with and their desire for romantic companionship.
“Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off,” she said, adding that the church can’t make it that “either you are gay or you are Mormon, or either you support gay rights or you support the church.”
I'm an Atheist and Anti-Gay & Proud.
Has nothing to do whether you are religious or non-religious.
The religious use the Bible as an excuse for their bigotry.
the bible says marriage is between husband and wife, but it's not against being gay.
Quran says to kill gay people
MOST people are anti-YOU and proud of it. you are pathetic.
The Bible also says that no one should get divorced, but don't expect HYPOCRITES to follow that.
@ New Jersey Girl – Your bible also commands that you kill gay folks – Leviticus 20:13. Your Muslim cousins at least have the balls to obey your god, while you fundiots simply ignore his commands you don't want to do.
Gay people will never be treated equally and will never be considered 'normal'. Now move on to more important issues and enough with this gay thing....
Same thing they said about women's rights.
Chris Christie (Governor of NJ) declined gay marriage in NJ few months ago :)
Gotta love NJ!!
With any luck your sentiments, while probably professed vehemently to your children and grandchildren, come across as just what they are. The sad, outdated views of an old woman who will, along with her generation, take that crap (soon) to the grave.
Loved to do joseph smith in the bung hole....just like catholics do!
Those two ass pounders....no wonder they try so hard to cover it up!
I wonder who pitched and who caught?
i believe the frredom to chose. thats what i like united states. the separation of church and states. unlike here ion the philippines. bishop and other church ministers always dictate every president. i hope this will be an eye opening to my country
America is a Christian country. Read!
BTW the federal govn' recognize marriage between man and woman.
First off, america is not a christian country, it is a country that has a mainly christian population, big difference. No amount of saying the same thing over and over under different names will make your statement any more true.
America is NOT a Christian country. It just has a majority of Christians.
American has a majority of women, so tell us that America is a feminine country.
'In God We Trust' refers to Christian God lol..
and Christian holidays recognized by govn'.
When our nation was created, "In God We Trust" was NOT on money or our motto.
America is a Christian country... whoever says it's not are ignorant bigots
New Jersey gal,
Wow! You just called John Adams and the entire Senate during his presidency "ignorant bigots"
"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
— Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate with many members who were founders of the U.S. and signed into law by President John Adams
"In God We Trust" was added only 56 years ago... hardly the 236 years as a country.
I'm sick and tired of those nasty gay people ... PUT THEM IN PRISON FOR LIFE AND BE DONE WITH THEM.... look at Muslim countries!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I feel bad for your kids.
just come out of the closet daddy! It's ok to be gay....and I'm a straight atheist!
Seriously how could a man be attracted to another man's hairy azz? Yuck I'll rather die than being gay
I can only assume that the gays would prefer the former for you rather than the latter...
Two years ago when I found out my "best" friend turned out to be gay.... I never spoke with him after that.
OMG cannot believe my best friend was gay in over 10 years... makes me feel disgusted blah
How can a man be attrackted to another man?!
Some people are born the way they are. Things happen. You may want to evaluate what you consider friendship if him turning out to be gay made you not talk to him anymore. Did his personality change? Did he all of a sudden start hitting on you no matter what you said? Did you ever think that the problem might be you and not him?
So until blind prejudice took over, you thought enough of this person that they qualified as your best friend. Your loss.
Nobody is born gay....... was your dad gay? no so shut up
gayism is stupid and should be illegal
Mindless ignorance is also stupid, fortunately for you it isn't illegal.
Gays are born that way. Listen to the TENS of THOUSANDS of professionals at APA that know FAR MORE than you ever will about gays. Get an education.
Gay people are NOT normal people and will never be. Period!
Neither are ignorant bigots.
And neither are Mor(m)ons...
Religion is for morons like yourself... you believe that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. That my non-friend is stupid as stupid gets....a child's story. Go stick you bigoted, idiot head in the sand, oh wait.....it's already there isn't it? You are a coward, who klings to childish beliefs. Get real.
Oh right non believer I forgot that the pig-dog-fish butt mated with the chicken-frog-rat and now your here. Nice! Umm your dumb.
Mema... Unlike your retarded religion, Science is true whether you believe it or not. And i clearly stated your beliefs: Christianity is the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree, which is TOTALLY unbelievable. The bible is poorly written mythology....what about Zeuss? There have been thousands of gods identified throughout history....and you choose to believe in only one of them? YOU are pretty much an atheist yourself when you consider what gods you choose to believe in and the gods you don't believe.
In most Islamic countries.... it's death sentence for being gay.
Perhaps Christian countries like North/South America & Europe should follow the same.
Gay people will encourage people to be gay and think it's normal
Hmmm....I missed that North and South America are "countries": LEARN SOMETHING EVERDAY!
Gays and lesbians will never be accepted into any major religion. That is why they have to come up with pretend churches of their own.
Are there ANY churches that oppose sodomy as long as it's by heteros?
Bigotry dies hard. Those who get their morality from Iron Age sheep boinkers are not likely to be very open to change
I'm just glad they have lost their grip not only on reallity but on the younger generation as well. Virtually no one under 25 believes a word these morons utter anymore.
In the words of the virulently verbose G.W. Bush "There's an old saying in Tennessee – I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can't get fooled again."
You believe that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Your whole belief system is pretend!
Speaking only for myself, I don't give a flying f-bomb about being "accepted" by any church or religion. I don't accept any religion or church, so we're even in that regard.
All I require of any church, religion, or religious person is to leave my civil rights alone. Stop your efforts toward keeping me a separate class of citizen in this society. That's all. Just stop it.
Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:
† Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
† Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
† Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here on CNN blogs are posted by closet Atheists)
† Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
† Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
† Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
† Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
† Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Hitler (Denied his faith later), Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
† No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
† Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
† Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
† Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
† Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
† Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
† Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
† Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
† All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
† The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
† Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
**Only 2-3% of the U.S. are Atheists/Agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**
† † Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator † †
PS! the USA is a Christian nation and will always be.
Complete nonsense that reflects negatively on your level of intelligence.
ALL HAIL CHRISTLER!! SIEG HEIL' SIEG HEIL' SIEG HEIL' SIEG HEIL'!!!!
Wrong! Wrong on every point!
Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.
“Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”
― Penn Jillette
mentally healthy? You are mentally ill.
^^ Nopp you are mentally ill that's why you have no faith
Why would anyone gay or of color want to associate with a religion that hates them? Mormonism = Bigotry and Hatred
My whole complex of kicking myself for being gay all my life is slowly becoming silly.
This article comes just in time for the election .... I suppose there is no connection between the fact that the GOP nominee is mormon and the gay population takes up 10% of the vote. The hate will only be masked for a very short period of time.
Couldn't agree more. Can't wait for the election to be over so we don't have to look at the "I'm a Mormon" billboards anymore.
Anything is possible. There are even bishops in WA state who have refused to get invovled in the signature gathering re overturning marriage equality there.
Except for the Southern Baptist types who also hate our first black president, there is a lot of progress. Just Marriage is a big issue .
In the last couple years about 24 cities / counties in Utah have put in place protection laws re employment and housing for gays. Part of it is good discussions between the gay and mormon leadership, part of it is embarrassment over prop8
We shall see. it will probably take a split in the church to go much futther, and perhaps the next generation of mormons will be like the next generation of most of the country – much more accepting.
I am Mormon, and was a little perplexed by the church's stance on Prop 8 at first. When Mormon's were practicing poligamy, they wanted the government to stay out of the business of regulating marraige... but now they want government to regulate it in this specific instance. I think it was totally a legal stance, not a stance on belief. The church is worried that it will be forced to uphold and acknowledge gay marraiges if it is made legal, which would put them in the position of having to uphold something that goes against some very basic beliefs.
It doesn't matter whether they agree with it or not. They are trampling on the civil rights of others. Besides, they would not be forced to oversee the weddings, and they would in no way be prevented from practising their religion personally. They would not be forced to interact with the LGBT community, and they would not be required to host their ceremonies.
gays are still pretty intolerant of Mormons-it's probably the silliest religion next to scientology-magic underwear? ruling planets? magic triangles?
Do you know the boiling frog story? It's hapenning in front of our very eyes.
When I was a kid and we learnt about how the world would be, we really couldn't believe it. Now we are in the midst of it.
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Storms, Tornadoes, Volcanoes...
Do you remember what is the end of all of this?
Damn I'm tired of hearing about gays every single day!
If they had equal rights, you wouldn't be hearing so much.
Yeah? Well, we're tired of hearing about the straights every day of our lives. I'm tired of seeing you kiss. I'm tired of seeing you hold hands in public. It's disgusting. I'm tired of having to watch videos where the guy rides off into the sunset with a girl. I'm tired of having your narrow ideologies forced down my throat since the day I came into this world. I'm tired of your philosophies telling me everything that's "wrong" about me. If you're so tired hearing about our fight for equality, do the world a favor and stop asking your trailer park girlfriend to read these stories to you.
Jesus was gay so that is not very nice to say
That makes two of us. It's overwhelming, the coverage that the gay community gets these days.
I grew up in the NYC metro area during the 1970s and I knew countless gays; some personally and others, well, from just seeing them walking around town. I didn't think too highly or too poorly of the gay community. To me, they were obviously struggling with issues. I had my own, they had theirs. When given the opportunity to interact with them, I treated them with kindness. And, more importantly, I never lost sleep, or time, thinking about gays.
Fast foward to the 21st century, and BAM! It's EVERYWHERE. The non-stop rhetoric and posterizing of the gay community. It's out of control. I see it as more of a fad than a real issue.
Case in point: A guy I know left his wife and kids after 20+ years of marriage. He joined a motorcycle club, had some problems with his wife, moved in with a fellow from the same bike club, now the two of them are a GAY COUPLE!
Sorry, but I don't buy it. This guy loved women, and even committed adultery with women and why he and his wife had problems. There's no way that the guy liked men all along and was lying to himself and others. There's much more to it, than that.
One character trait that was poignant with my bud was his penchant for trying the latest and greatest. He was a sucker for anytyhing new and modern. Whatever was a fad, he'd try it and that's what I think happened with him and his new "gay" relationship.
If tomorrow's Hollywood fad was for so-called stars to go the cellibate route, I'm sure that many would take up the lifestyle. If it's popular and enough famous people do it and the press gives it enough attention, it must be worth a try!
You're not hearing! You're reading and responding. I don't think gays should be in the news either. They should have equal rights and you would hear or read anything about it. This is the last civil rights battle! in the mid 60s black civil rights were in the news all the time.
I wish I could truly express my feelings towards the Mormons here. The best I can do is to just say, Mormons, go to heck. We don't need you brand of hate. We don't need your false sympathies. We aren't going to change for you and we don't need you building a false sense of "acceptance" to try and convert us. You have done nothing but to prove that God, through his followers, is a god of hate, small-mindedness, bigotry and exclusion. Thank you for the Sunday School lesson. Oh, and by the way... LOVED the movie "Latter Days."
I agree 100% but I will say it.
HE MORMONS- F-YOU!
Dont forget the SHE MORMONS too... :)
Wow. I find it ironic that a lot of the hate in this situation tends to come from the LGBT community and their supporters. You're wishing all the Mormons would crawl into a hole and die. They don't wish that for you. People don't always agree on everything. The only solution is to learn to get along with your differences. Keep in mind that your 'rights' can affect their 'rights' too.
I feel so out of touch not having a fictional fairy tale to pray to...I feel so empty and devoid of light and understanding.
If only there was something that could make me feel less like a loser...oh wait there is...god can make me feel less like a fool....I see how smart all these religious fools are and I wanna be like them.
Now now...as long as it has knee pads it is not that bad...
Wait, mormons hate gays? But they wear the gayest underwear ever made. That does not make sense?
I like mine extra tight !
Are you a catholic priest or are you talking about underwear?
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.