The organizers of a gay-themed bake sale in Salt Lake City have asked the Mormon church to match the more than $4,000 in donations the event raised and lend the faith’s support to programs that promote safety for LGBTQ youths struggling with suicide.
“In our hearts, we truly believe that we all want the same thing,” co-organizers Kat Kellermeyer and Hillary McDaniel wrote in a letter emailed Sunday to the public affairs office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “We want to see our young people grow to be the amazing adults they are meant to be.”
An email inquiry by The Salt Lake Tribune seeking comment from the church’s public affairs office was not immediately returned Monday morning.
Kellermeyer and McDaniel publicly announced their request that the church match all or part of the $4,400 earned from the sale at a news conference at the Utah Pride Center on Monday. Proceeds from the bake sale will go to the center’s new Survivors of Suicide Support Group for those ages 16 to 20.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among Utah youths ages 10 to 17. LGBTQ youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Utah health officials are not currently collecting specific data from the gay and transgender community.
The funding request comes one week after the women held the “Gayest Bake Sale Ever!” across the street from the faith’s headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City.
Kellermeyer, 30, and McDaniel, 37, both former Mormons who are members of the LGBTQ community, hosted the sale in protest of church support for a Colorado baker who had refused to make a cake for a gay wedding on religious grounds. The Masterpiece Cake case is slated for argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in October.
Mormon leaders joined other faith traditions in signing a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, asking the high court justices to not forget the First Amendment rights of the deeply religious in deciding the case.
Kellermeyer and McDaniel said they don’t dispute any church’s right to free speech. But the Mormon church’s involvement raises concern, they said, because of the message it sends to LGBTQ youths, who have struggled to find a safe space within Utah’s predominant faith.
And while there has been no study of any link between suicide attempts and church policies, they “always seems to spike whenever there is an announcement like this,” Kellermeyer told The Tribune
“We worry about our friends. We worry about our children. We worry about our community,” the letter to the church states. “Help us give them hope.”
The letter also notes the church made a previous donation to the Pride Center in 2015 in support of homeless youths and in August issued a statement in support of the LoveLoud music festival, also aimed at raising LGBTQ suicide awareness.
Such messages are helpful, the women said, but a donation would go a long way toward healing the rifts that exist between the church and the LGBTQ community.
“I know it’s a big stretch,” said McDaniel, “But we are asking them to match us in deed.”
Kellyermeyer and McDaniel also sent letters Monday to members of Utah Senate’s Republican Caucus seeking a similar donation.
Twenty-two of 24 caucus members filed a brief of support in the Colorado baker’s case.
Such messages from the pulpit, state laws and policies also have a big impact on Utah’s LGBTQ youths, the letters from Kellermeyer and McDaniel note.
“Regardless of the differences in the way we worship and the ways we love,” the letters to both church and political leaders say, “when it comes to our youth here in Utah, there is no reason we should be divided.”