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Is change coming to Mormon temple wedding policy?

Published February 12, 2014 7:29 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mormon insiders are buzzing about chatter that the LDS Church may eliminate the one-year waiting period between a civil marriage ceremony and a temple wedding for members in the U.S. and Canada.

Right now, Mormon couples in many European and South American countries can have a civil ceremony and then, as soon as they want, go to an LDS temple to be united, or "sealed," in an eternal marriage.

Governments in many nations require all marriages to be public.

This two-step wedding day process is not available to Mormons in much of North America.

If LDS lovebirds there have any kind of wedding outside the temple — even if it's a simple vow before a justice of the peace — they cannot be sealed in a Mormon temple for a year. Thus, most choose to go only to the temple.

For many families, that makes for an exclusive rather than inclusive celebration.

Only Mormons with current "temple recommends," attesting to their adherence to LDS teachings and practices, are allowed to enter one of the faith's 141 temples. The policy keeps out people of other faiths, no faith, even Latter-day Saints without recommends.

"Church leaders are well aware of the issues involved," LDS spokesman Cody Craynor said Tuesday, "and continue to examine them carefully."

Critics of the policy believe if LDS couples first had a civil ceremony to which everyone was invited, and then were able to go immediately to an LDS temple for a sealing, that would solve the problem of wedding day divisions.

Recently, a group of Mormons launched a letter-writing campaign asking for a change.

"We are collecting emails, stories and letters," organizers at familyfirstweddings.com write, "to help format a letter that will be sent, through official channels, to our leaders in Salt Lake City."

In 2007, two Canadian former Mormons, who shared the pain of being left out of family weddings, gathered nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition asking for a policy change. They continue to care about the issue, Jean Bodie, one of the women, said Tuesday, but have not kept up the website.

John Dehlin, who runs the Mormon Stories website, believes there is another reason why the Utah-based faith may shift its temple wedding policy.

Dehlin writes on his Facebook page that he has heard that "this change is primarily motivated out of a desire to help the church avoid discrimination-based litigation once same-sex marriage is allowed in all 50 states."

By separating "civil ceremonies from the temple ceremonies (ahead of time)," Dehlin writes, "apparently the church feels like it will avoid discrimination lawsuits down the road."

Peggy Fletcher Stack