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.”
Let's ask Mitt. I'm sure he'll say whatever he thinks will get your vote. Today anyway. Tomorrow he'll say something else. Flippity Floppity. There goes Mittey Cottontail.
Mit would tell you he is gay if he thought it would get your vote
He is a lying A&&HOLE just like most of his religious leaders.
What a sham!
...Sounds like your talking about Obama...lmao....He changes his tune to anyone listening. Can you say "Imigration reform"? uuuuhhhhhhhh what happened? Obama promised when he was elected in 2008 to start on Imigration reform. It never happened. Its called a LIE. Everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie.
The mono church is NOT more accepting.
They merely are making an effort to hide their bigotry and prejudice.
This election is doing more and more to show everyone outside of UT how foolish, ridiculous and prejudicial these morons are.
momo's are NOT accepting. They are liars!
I agree they are not!! This propaganda is for the election only!!! Do not be fooled.
Say NO to gays!!
I personally don't like all this. I wish Mitt would not have run and all could leave us alone as we would you. Take your hate and get lost.
@No they are not.......you are the MOST IGNORANT person I have seen on these blogs so far!!! And that is saying A LOT!!!! Shut up and grow a brain so you can research and actually know what you are talking about! My guess is you either didn't graduate High School or barely did cause the teachers felt bad for you!!! LMFAO
The Only Way for any group to become a lime of "lit embers of humanismal productivities" is to come to the foreskins of thought "revelries' abundancies of light-lustered measurabilities"! What better means for "Gay-wardness" to become a lit ember once in a while for showman-sakes! Tease please! Please tease!
A pseudo intellectual response signifying nothing.
It is little wonder that the Mittster flip flops on issues. This "church" has changed its position on plural marriage, black members, and now on gays. If you want to see the designs the LDS has read Under the Umbrella of Religion; they have been plotting to put someone in the White House for years. Scary stuff.
This is a good sign for those that truly believe... GOD did not hate....
mormons hate....always have....always will.
They are the most worthless people!
Wow....This is news CNN? Really???? What a joke!!
Election year BS Propaganda. Anyone who knows LDS knows this is just BS. LDS got rid of afterschool programs, ALL afterschool programs state wide so they wouldn't have to let GLTB have a meeting in school space in the evenings.
indeed. wiser words have never been spoken.
@YUP Who ARE YOU to call anybody useless? Anywho, I'd rather be useless than extremely rude and obnoxious.
Now that the LDS church has a member who is a candidate for POTUS they will take whatever action is necessary so that the public believes they are truly a mainstream Christian Church.
The Church will flip-flop their beliefs as much as necessary to help Romney.
The moron church is such a bunch of liars!
You nailed it. What else should we expect from any of the liars for jeebus? It's all about politics....and politics is all about power.
Might I suggest that everyone get on youtube so you can see and hear the testimoney of many gay and straight people who are now ex Mormans because of the mistreatment by the Morman heirarchy. Most were asked to leave and excommunicated or chose to leave and then excommunicated. Someone should publically ask Romney what he thinks.
Please not that the church actually has not changed their beliefs or stance on the subject, but members of the church have and some members have always been pro-gay rights.
Below, someone by the name of Jay said, "The content in this article seems fairly slanted. Much more space is given for those saying the LDS church is changing than for official church position and doctrine.
I'm sure this comment board on this article will be a favorite place for people who have been offended by church positions or by church members to post unbalanced and hateful things. One of the downsides to comment boards. But, as a member of the church, my position is that we try very hard to love all people (and help people feel that) while still trying very hard to keep God's laws in our faith. When people pay too much attention to one side of that, you get an unbalanced picture. And you get people who misunderstand."
I agree with this post, and I wanted to add that the church hasn't been hateful towards those who have same-gender attraction. Just because one may have hurtful confrontations with a Mormon or church member does not mean that the church endorses hostile feelings towards anyone, nor that the generality of members hold hostile opinions either.
Well said. I don't remember any laws that were changed by God except the ushering in of the New Testament. Only the human race changes Gods laws or the Churchs because our society became filled with too many acts of iniquiity. We've grown to love ourselves and please ourselves more than the Creator. As a result, we have accepted more of the unacceptible in order to have the masses of people remain content. If we can't control the society, perhaps we can just change the laws of God so people can feel more comfortable about their sinful lifestyles.
Don't believe any of this crap. It is designed to show their cult in a better light so they can get one of their own in the White House. But Romney believes, as the cult leadership directs, that these so-called sinners should be shunned and that they bring shame on their families. Let us not forget that Romney when he was a "bishop" of this cult preached this point of view even going so far as to tell a single, mormon mother who was in labor that she was a disgrace to her family...just before giving birth. These people are not to be trusted.
Grow a brain and do some research, you have no clue what you are talking about! I am not mormon any more but was born and raised in the churh, and it is no where near a cult!! Some of the people in fact a lot of them are the most kind and loving people I have ever been around! Get a clue!!!
Dude, your an idiot. Do you have any insight or are you just spewing hate?
Well, why the heck not? The Mormon Church has to move with the times, like when they considered black folks "God's mistakes" when He made people and then had to do an about face because it was not longer socially acceptable or palatable to label African Americans in such a way. Take a look at the history of this cult and you will find equally detestable traits and practices.
Magic Underwear? I'll pass, but thanks? Crazy and Weird are the only terms that can be used for the "folks".
I am amazed by the amount of ignorant people on this board, do some real research about the church and then lets talk! Until then you are a waste of time!
Yea, like the "research" you just did to refute what I had to say. I put more facts into my short post than you did, so the ignorant ones are your parents, because guess what piece of work they gave birth to. So suck on that a while.
It’s pretty amazing how religious groups change or bend their beliefs when it benefits them or it’s a convenient. Its 2012 people wake up realize we don’t need to be controlled by fear anymore.
@Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer
That is fun! The born into – theory confims the Bible. According to the biblical doctrine we are natural born sinners and everybody of us is able to commit every sin, if he is tempted enough.
However, God wants to make us new and we should accept this. It is not God's genuine intention for us that we are gay.
The Mormons are so #$^&! up anyways, and they have the gaul to ask the Gays for forgive the Mormom Church? LMAO!
Don't expect some like you to ever understand. Some minds don't have the capacity.
"Come on Pete. Every religious text is written by man. The books in the bible are written by men WHO SAID THEY WERE inspired by god. Who is to say that smith was any different than Paul, Luke, etc..."
There, fixed it for you... LOL
um, teachings are the same, the people may be becoming for softened to the idea of someone being "gay", but if we start changing our teachings, then there is a very big issue.
They can always convert them after they are dead...
The teachings will stay the same. What is right, is right. What is wrong, is wrong.
Hey Kdf – the church and Christians have already changed it's teachings on woman's rights, divorce, interracial marriages, slavery, etc...
It' might help if you actually do some research on this subject. No where in the bible does it condemn gays as we know and understand it TODAY. That is the distinction. Part of reading comprehension 101 is to put the scriptures into historical context to get the true meaning. The few snippets of text that you are using to condemn gays is really about hospitality, male prostitution and idolatry.
The experts around the world have proven that being gay is not a choice, its natural part of human sexuality, it is not a mental illness and it cannot be voluntarily changed. Gays and Lesbians deserve the same equal rights as straight people.
Do you think the LDS should keep teaching teh same views of right and wrong as they did in the 20th century?
"We will first inquire into the results of the approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of Heaven placed upon some portions of mankind. Some, however, will argue that a black skin is not a curse, nor a white skin a blessing. In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing, and that the ne.gro is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth; but to us such teachings are foolishness.
We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)
The Mormon Church is trying very hard to destroy the concept of the seperation of Church and state, This is the principal that protects all of us from religious persecution, Inquisition, crusades and hatred.
Mormom church is a rebirth of the old Catholic Church which persecuted and killed Millions in the name of religion for almost 2000 years.
I am Gay and Romney and other Mormons and conservatives can kiss my booty :)
I'm sure that would be gross. get your boyfriend to do that
I'm sure some of them would secretly enjoy that too, but since they grew up hearing that it was wrong they take out their insecurities on those who don't have them. ;P
Grow a brain and do some research and maybe just maybe you won't be so narrow minded when it come to religion!!! And you can kiss my conserviative booty thanks! LOL
And you can kiss ours.
Interesting article. The author takes as his most influential sources a former bishop and a current executive secretary. Neither of who has any authority to speak on behalf of an entire church. Akin to going down to your local Catholic church and asking a former pastor or other church volunteer to speak for the entire Catholic church. I am in no way an official spokesman either, but I'll give my 2 cents.
The words of the one person who is authorized to speak on the Church's behalf are completely downplayed in the article. As he stated, this is not a change of position for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has always taught that each individual should be treated with Christlike love and compassion. If the members of the Church have not been acting this way, then this is something that members need to improve, as it is a basic tenant of the Church. But the failure of some members to act in accordance with the Church's teachings should not be viewed as a change in the Church's teachings. The Church's standards still apply regarding actions taken by individuals (each person is responsible for their own actions). And the Church has not and will not change its position regarding the importance of traditional marraige and the family. This is another basic tenant of the Church.
But I guess this approach makes for good headlines, and brings out all of the commentators who either have a beef with the Mormon church or organized religion in general.
Are not a gay-man's "gaymenships" of grouped elasticities? Seems to my lowly closeted "Christamentalisms" sakedness that; issues of inclusions are enough to "playcate" oppositional variances for soothing accolades' sakes!
This is all very nice of the mormons. But what makes you think we(GLBT) want to be a part of your...well, your cult?
I doubt there are many banging on the door to get in. Not for all the glitter and rhinestones in the world. They really must think we are stupid. Unless it means I can marry my boyfriend, and my boyfriend, and my boyfriend, and my boyfriend!
If i can marry all my strange, I'm IN!!
I personally don't want you, either.
This is not about Mitt. This is CNN's spin. an honest story would be far less noteworthy.
The LDS sometimes resemble the Islam:
There is a story in the Koran (yes, in the Koran) that Muhammad had had a foster son, which became older and finally married a very beautiful woman. After a while Muhammad had a "divine revelation" that his forster son should divorce from his wife. Guess, who married the former wife of Muhammad's foster son. It was the tricky Muhammad himself.
The god of all lousy cults, sects and false churches is the devil.
The LDS have base motives to tolerate gays like Muhammad had base motives to command the divorce of his foster son.
The "man-made church'd structures" do not make the Kingdom of God! It is of one's body where the buildings of God can be found out and in all truth made said, our bodies are the Kingdoms of the Gods' buildings! I say this becuase I have seen the writings of attainable knowledge to all regarding the innerness of our bodies! Inside our body-buildings are innumerable cellular structures not unlike or no different than the stellarized structures in outward regions of the Great Celestial Cosmos! God's outter-most garment may well be the allness of "celestiality" but God's inner domains are the stomping grounds of Godly Beings we will never ever truly know of in our presnet days timeline(s)! I say this because; for us to "carry on" we need to turn our eyes away from devotionalisms of religious singularisms and make ways to centralize our combined interests for the well-being of all humanists and their humanisms potentials!
April 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm
What is this comment about? Where did you find the relationship between the article and Islam? You just one bigoted Moron who hated Islam so much and not knowing what Islam is all about?
now they are pro gay, next pro women, pro-hispanic etc ...whatever it takes...
and ...romney will sell his mother to win the election...he is a latter day machiavelli
pro women? That is an ongoing debate and struggle within the LDS church that is also changing with generations. Pro-Hispanic? The LDS church is already there and generally supports a much more forgiving, accepting and open approach to immigration issues even if many of its conservative members voice other opinions. Romney doesn't speak for the church and the church doesn't speak for Romney. In fact, I suspect Romney is among those that is actually quite uncomfortable with the LDS Church's increasing acceptance of the gay community.
Please read the article, it says nothing about the LDS church changing it's stance.
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.