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Split surfaces in LDS policy on same-sex couples: Mormons back it; other Utahns don’t

First Published      Last Updated Jan 13 2017 05:30 pm


Tribune poll » Mormons, non-Mormons are mirror opposites on the issue, yet support among the faithful slips on issue of children.

As much as the state is evolving and diversifying, on some topics there still are two Utahs: Mormon and non-Mormon.

The LDS Church's policy on gay couples and their children is one of those issues.

A new Salt Lake Tribune poll shows Utah Mormons support the policy labeling same-sex LDS couples as "apostates" by a 4-to-1 margin (72 percent to 18 percent). Non-Mormons are practically the mirror opposite, with 71 percent against the notion and 18 percent for it.

Similarly, 70 percent of LDS respondents approve of their faith barring children of gay Mormon couples from baptism and other religious rites until they turn 18, while 21 percent disapprove. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of non-Mormons oppose that stance, while 18 percent back it.



Overall, 50 percent of Utahns endorse the church's policy on same-sex couples, according to the survey, with 39 percent against it. Support slips a bit for church's approach to the children, with 49 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed.

Why should anyone who doesn't belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have an opinion on an internal policy?

"Obviously, the LDS Church holds an outsized influence in the state," said a Salt Lake City non-Mormon respondent, who didn't want her name used because of her employment. "The disapproval [of same-sex families] that the policy reflects does impact the way gay and lesbian people are treated in the state as a whole."

Even new Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, the first openly gay chief executive in the Utah capital's history, expressed concerns about how the Mormon protocol on gay LDS couples and their children might affect the general public.

"I share in the sadness and confusion that this new policy has caused many in our community — both members of the church and nonmembers," the mayor has stated. "The LDS Church has done so much good in promoting the strength of the family, and while I strongly believe they are entitled to live in their doctrine, I hope this policy direction will not last long."

The Tribune poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, amassed responses from 989 registered Utah voters between Jan. 6 and 13. It carries an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

In the middle of the polling period, on Jan. 10, Russell M. Nelson, head of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and next in line to lead the global faith, insisted that the new policy came as a "revelation" from God to President Thomas S. Monson, viewed by Mormons as a "prophet, seer and revelator."

Nelson said the policy reflects "the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord" on the same-sex issue.

It is unclear how many poll respondents could have been influenced by Nelson's pronouncement.

With or without it, though, many Mormons believe the policy came from deity.

"I really support our prophet because I know he receives revelation," said poll respondent Janet Jameson, a Mormon who has lived in Holladay for more than 50 years. "I don't think the church would take this stand if it weren't revelation."

That doesn't mean she is hostile to gays. LDS leaders teach that same-sex attraction isn't a sin, only acting on it is.

"One of our best neighbors is gay, and we think the world of him," Jameson said. "I don't think [the policy] will have any impact on gay Mormons. We respect [our neighbor's] feelings and way of life. ... We've rented to gay couples and they are the best renters we've ever had."

Jameson believes "God loves everybody, but he has certain rules."

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