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Can Mormons back same-sex marriage and still get in the temple?
Religion » Members can buck Mormon leaders on political matters, so the issue may be in how that support is expressed.

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Many Latter-days Saints who disagreed with the measure said they felt pressured to go along, and some reported having temple recommends withdrawn, but that was not church policy, according to general authority L. Whitney Clayton, of the LDS Quorum of Seventy, who helped spearhead the California effort.

Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the issue without facing any sanction, Whitney told The Tribune. "We love them and bear them no ill will."

At a glance

Where Utah Mormons stand

» 32 percent say same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses.

» 65 percent say they should be allowed to form civil unions or domestic partnerships.

» 41 percent support any legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

» 30 percent say same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

» 35 percent say their views on same-sex marriage have changed over time.

» 80 percent (of those whose views have changed) have become more accepting

» 79 percent say the Utah Constitution should be amended so that churches and clergy are not forced to perform same-sex marriages against their religious beliefs.

Source » SurveyUSA poll conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune from Jan. 10 through Jan. 13.

LDS Church statement

“Local church leaders interview a member who seeks a temple recommend to confirm that the member’s actions and beliefs are in harmony with church teachings. Church leaders use a list of questions that are provided for this purpose and are instructed not to add any additional requirements. A leader may choose not to issue a recommend if the member repeatedly acts in clear, open and deliberate public opposition to the church or persists in teaching false doctrine.”

Source: LDS Church spokesman Cody Craynor

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Mormon politicians such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who supports same-sex marriage, also may differ with their church but face no threat to their membership or participation.

"Elected officials who are Latter-day Saints make their own decisions and may not necessarily be in agreement with one another or even with a publicly stated church position," according to the LDS Church’s website. "While the church may communicate its views to them, as it may to any other elected official, it recognizes that these officials still must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent."

That standard applies to members, too, but is implemented differently across the country, said Randall Thacker, a gay Mormon in Washington, D.C., who lives with his partner. He doesn’t have a temple recommend but plays the piano in his LDS congregation’s Primary for children under age 12 and coordinates his ward’s inner-city service projects.

His bishop welcomed him back to church last year, saying, "My role is to bring people to Christ. Please continue to come and I hope you will feel welcome here."

Thacker has heard recently of other gay Mormons and their supporters not having such a positive experience

"There is inconsistency worldwide in the way local leaders view members who support same-sex civil marriage,"said Thacker, president of Affirmation, an LDS gay support group, "Some local leaders, including some in Utah, see this as contrary to sustaining the prophet and apostles, which at times has resulted in threats to revoke or actual revocation of a temple recommend and in other instances the release of otherwise-worthy members from ward leadership callings."

Unfortunately, such treatment has a negative impact both on "the faith of the families affected," he said, and "on the ward unit by losing these individuals’ leadership talents."

This week’s LDS Church statement on recommends "reiterates a long-standing policy, the enforcement of which has always depended on the particulars of a given case," Armand Mauss, a pre-eminent LDS sociologist who lives in Southern California, wrote in an email. "That is, different bishops and stake presidents have had different thresholds in mind in considering what constitutes ‘clear, open and deliberate public opposition.’ "

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Mauss notes that "the LDS religion, unlike others, establishes a formal and specific distinction between eternal marriage (in a temple), which has important implications for one’s future salvation, and regular civil marriage, which does not. This theological understanding gives Mormons, or at least many Mormons, a way out of what would otherwise be a hard dilemma if the only kind of marriage acceptable to Mormons was the temple marriage."

Indeed, The Tribune survey shows nearly 80 percent of Utah Mormons — as well as most non-Mormons — want to change the state’s constitution so that churches and clergy would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages. For Latter-day Saints, that means not having gay weddings in their temples.


Twitter: @religiongal

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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