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.”
If anyone has questions about the LDS Church, this information provides accurate answers. I specifically like its direct approach to some of the more difficult questions. Take a look!
LMFAO...that is funny. Good one browncreative. :) That article is so full of BS it is hilarious.
The Church doesn't condemn gays but ONLY the ACT thereof.
That's right, I don't condemn swimmers, just the act of swimming. Nice Orwellian doublespeak.
"The Church doesn't condemn gays but ONLY the ACT thereof."
Give us the exact scripture that condemns the saved loving, respectful Christian partnership of a gay couple.....oh...that's right it doesn't exist!
Colin, do you think that all gay individuals define themselves as gays? Sorry, my friends don't. Sure it is part of their being, but they are also designers, snowboarders, friends, sons, movie lovers, men... (and on a side note, I know very few that are looking to getting married).
Swimmers when doing the act of swimming swim in the water, definitely no problem with that. On the other hand, gays doing the act of ho.mo.se.xuality swim in abomination, huge difference.
There is no such thing as "respectful Christian partnership of a gay couple" in the Church. All we have are lots of respectful and equally respective gays but they don't have any gay partners.
"n the other hand, gays doing the act of ho.mo.se.xuality swim in abomination, huge difference."
No only prejudice and bigoted people take the scriptures literally and read it that way. Romans was talking about male prostitution.
Gays and Jews are the two obsessions of CNN.
The civil rights for gays continues to be fought around the country so this is a hot button issue. Look at the Churches in Washington State that are trying to revoke the law of gay marriage. The Catholic church is actually trying to get enough signatures to have it put on the ballot. The church is the most prejudice bigoted group out there and they think it's ok to trample of gay civil rights. It's time to bring a stop to it and show that these hateful people are a menace to our society
The Mormon church is very ignorant on a lot of matters so I would not hold my breath on this. They just started letting blacks in and they still convert Jews to Mormonism, fact is that this religion which was found a little over 150 years can't be compared to Christianity or other major religions. I am not talking bad about them but stating the facts.
"religion which was found a little over 150 years can't be compared to Christianity"
You do realize that mormons are christian right?
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of latter day saints is not Christian? How can you say that? Read the Book of Mormon, it is ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ. As for the Blacks? The have been in the church since the church began, they have held the priesthood since the 70's. It was NOTHING against the black people. They are as much our brothers and sisters as any other race. Race doesn't matter. We are all children of GOD. So, you weren't stating a FACT.
Don is ignorant of many things. This post shows how little he knows about Mormons, religions in general and history. Sorry, an organization doesn't need to change because you don't understand or believe in it.
Don – heck all the protestant faiths are only 200-400 years old. What's your point?
Uh, actually you are "talking bad about them," don, either intentionally or because your very ignorant of the facts. Mormongirl has already corrected you with respect to what you said about the Church's treatment of blacks. As a non-Mormon, I think it was wrong to deny them the priesthood (just like I think many of the things in the Catholic Church's history were very wrong too), but it was rectified decades ago. It's fixed.
And what's wrong with converting Jews if they want to be converted. Or were you talking about the controversy wrt converting departed Jews by the Church via baptism? If you were, then, yes, that's something that I agree they need to stop. In fact, they have apologized for many of these occurences and, I believe, are trying to rectify them from happening again. They are very sensitive and tolerant of other faiths imo.
Finally, despite its relatively short history, I don't see how you can possibly say that Mormonism isn't comparable to Christianity. For Heaven's sake, they use the same King James Bible as all the Protestant Churches do. They just have another gospel with The Book of Mormon. Yes, I understand why many Christians say that Mormons aren't conventional Christians due to the theological differences (which I enjoy learning about and find very interesting), but I strongly object to characterizations that the Church of LDS is a "cult" or that, as you said, it's "not comparable to Christianity." In the most important sense, recognizing that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and in the way they live their lives, Mormons are more Christian that most Christians. And that was stated by a Catholic bishop.
Dear gay people, we are sorry for for treating you so badly. We still don't like you, and we don't think you should be allowed the same civil protections that we enjoy, but we hate you less than we used to.
Where in the world do people get the idea that mormons don't agree that Gay people should have rights? Weddings...no, it is unnatural to the human state, but insurance and rights for children...heck yes!
@mormongirl – 'unnatural'? Thanks for proving the point!
Voting against Gay Marriage has nothing to do with "not liking you". Gay members/nonmembers aren't persecuted in the Mormon community as a church protocol. If you know your history, Mormons were kicked, mobbed, persecuted until them moved out west. I think that one state even made it lawful to kill mormons.
"Where in the world do people get the idea that mormons don't agree that Gay people should have rights?"
If you are against legal marriage for gays, you are against them having the same civil rights that you enjoy. It's really not that complicated. Are you not smart enough to understand that?
Dont let this fool you they will not let gay members be in there church they ex com them I know my parents were mormons i was kicked out and they still knock on my door regulary too save me ?Eye see u
just as so many theist groups have done for centuries, do what favors your group's pocket book and call it something else to look good – and so many are still so blind to see this ...
Trying to help one of their own win the presidency!
Yep! I can't wait to replace the Muslim with the Mormon! Mitt 2012!!!
God is a loving God and wants to reconcile gays and other sinners with himself. However, in his presence there is infinite life and light, which is hot compatible with any death and darkness. Regretably gayness belongs not to God genuine plan for the mankind and hence, if you want to return to God, you must accept that he will release you from your weakness.
Dear gay, God delivered his Son for your gayness and all your other sins and for my sins and he raised Jesus from the dead to give us a new llfe of divine love and righteousness. How about that?
I myself am a Protestant, which tries to keep the genuine doctrine of the Early Church.
I don't hate and judge gays outside the church (even inside the church I don't hate them, but there they need a special treatment). It is only, if they want to join the Christian Church, they have to repent before.
Assumed my workmate, relative, neighbour, etc. would be a gay, I would treat him friendly nevertheless. Only if he would go to church, I would admonish him privatly and tell him he should repent.
Why should a gay church member repent?
Gayness is one of many sins, which is an indicator for our alienation from the Lord, the eternal God, which has made heaven and earth. Inside the Church there should stay only people, which are reconciled with God.
A church, which wants to be connected with the genuine Early Church, has to keep this.
A church, which tolerates gayness in her midst is no Christian Church, but has apostated from her Lord.
I repeat, I don't refer to gays outside the church, but inside the church.
Gays, outside the church, I shall not admonish, but treat kindly (however, if a talk about Jesus develops, I may confess the truth, that God, the Father, delivered his Son for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification, in oder to set us free form every sin and give us a life of love and righteousness).
Everybody, who hates and judges gays, should ask himself, if he is sinless and consider that even the sinless Jesus did not judge the sinners, but offered the gospel of deliverance, in oder to set them free:
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Dear gays, Christ died for your sins and suffered a horrible death for you, furthermore he resurrected for you, in order to set you free. Can you remain gay regarding Christ's atonement for you?
you are one of those so called devoted narrow minded christians that would send anyone different than yourself to their death by crucifixion
This is a typical evangelical response not based on the real facts of TODAY. The scholars have even proven that posters like this idiot are taking the scriptures literally and they lack the reading comprehension skills of putting it into historical context to get the true meaning. What the bible actually condemns is male prostitution, idolatry and bad hospitality, it has nothing to do with what we know and understand about gays today.
Dear gay, bigfoot delivered his Son for your gayness and all your other sins and for my sins and he raised chewbacca from the dead to give us a new llfe of divine love and righteousness. How about that?
" God is a loving God"
Bullshít. Your god commands that you go and kill gay folks. Don't see much love there.
A whole lot of nothing about a whole lot of nothing. If the church allows gays into the fold, it should have years ago. The Mormon Church cannot be a real church since it bans people from coming in and practicing their faith. Any church that bans anyone, is not a real church, period! And I'm a non member of any church.
Can you show me a scripture where it clearly states that BEING GAY IS A SIN? Since you know so much what God considers a sin, can you please show me this? And then maybe I can understand your point here.
Also, are you free from sin? No one is. EVERYBODY IS A SINNER and the Bible states that, but I don't believe that being gay is a sin. If you can show me otherwise, maybe I can reconsider that opinion.
Lastly, can you please further explain what you mean by your statement referring to gays in the church? Just because they are gay, does not mean that they do not have the right to attend church. In addition, don't you believe that your way of thinking and judgement will only further turn them away from the church?
I know many well-rounded, God loving, great people who ARE GAY. Being gay does not make you a bad person and it does NOT change your relationship with God. But it doesn't matter because it is their individual relationship with God, you do not need to worry about or judge their relationship with God.
Forgiveness should not only be requested in word but also in deed. Perhaps showing some support to make gay marriage legal in CA... undo the damage.
The conman joseph smith still a treasure digger even today, this time the power of the President.
And some people in this country are dumb enough to fall for this....sad...
Once again the Mormon church strays from Biblical teachings
You can't stray from Bibilical teachings if you write your own bible.
Where did they stray from bible teachings...?
I sense Rick is gonna drop a cherry picked bible verse on us in 3...2...1....
It's called an election year and one of the Presidential candidates just happens to be a Mormon. Oh the irony!
No temple for them.
The innerrant word of God? Where do you find it?
Inside the mind of the fundiots. They each believe they hold the key to the one true interpretation.
The inerrant word of God is in MY bible, silly.
My Bible, my God, my faith, my religion, they are the only one and true faith of the one and only true God. Oh, and I forgot to mention, you will burn in fire for all eternity if you don't accept my Bible, my God, my faith and my religion.
See? It's simple.
The Mormon church is just trying to get more votes for their famous member, so he can be thier Mormon President.
Can you tell me what policies Romney had as a governor in MA that would lead you to believe that he would put religious ideas into his policies?
This means that there will another revelation around the corner. Firsth there was the revelation about polygamy so Utah could attain statehood and then the revelation about black people not being the mark of cain. Soon the LDS will have a revelation that it really is okay to be gay. Their beliefs change with the times.
Yeah, but where do they stand now on Native Americans being a lost tribe of Israel?
Mocking what is right is a very good way of not having to do it. It's amazing how confused some of the negative commenters sound when they talk about what they've "heard" or "read", presumably from some of the equally confused anti-mormom websites out there. Your arguments will sound much more credible if you actually learn about the LDS church and use THOSE facts in your argument. The leader of the church is Jesus Christ, the name of the church includes the name Jesus Christ, and members worship Jesus, God, and use the New King James version of the bible for their beliefs. Oh my, how cultish...
Dave, to quick questions
Did the Mormon Church support polygamy and only give it up to get statehood?
Did the Mormon Church only admit black people recently as a result of political pressure?
Here is a quote from Brigham Young that may help refresh your memory on the latter point.
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.”
Or, try this one: "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so."
I am glad it changed, but don't try to sweep its disgusting history under the mat. That's the trouble with Mormonism, Catholicism and other beliefs that claim to know immtable truths. You look silly as society develops.
So why don't they let other Christians go inside their temples?
Total BS. They have a Mormon running for president. This is a PR stunt in an effort to try and get him in office. This is a leopard that will not change its spots.
The CHURCH has never changed their stance on this subject! We don't care if Mitt Romney is President. He is a Mormon, so what? I have voted for Catholics! The mormons are nothing but loving, caring, responsible, faith filled, moral people! Do your homework before you lash out!
I would have to agree with MormonGirl. I have yet to meet a Mormon who holds the same hatred for those of us who don't believe as Catholics/Protestants do (not saying all are hate filled).
@Mormongirl – I think you've been brainwashed by the CULT.
"he mormons are nothing but loving, caring, responsible, faith filled, moral people! Do your homework before you lash out!"
NO YOUR NOT! The reason being is as long as you don't support gays being able to marry you are not being loving and caring by denying their FAMILIES equal civil rights!
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.