G. Tyler Lefevor: Latter-day Saints’ support for LGBTQ individuals rises again

More and more LDS members are going against the teachings of their church.

(Tribune File Photo) Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community hold up signs during a protest over recent remarks by LDS apostle Boyd K. Packer that same-sex attraction is "impure and "unnatural," in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010.

A recent study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that Americans’ support for LGBTQ individuals’ rights has increased once again. Based on a survey of over 20,000 Americans, data suggest that about 79% of Americans support nondiscrimination of LGBTQ people and 68% of Americans support same-sex marriage.

These trends hold true for Latter-day Saint Americans, though to a lesser degree. A full 84% of Latter-day Saints support nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people, and nearly half (46%) support same-sex marriage with only a third of Latter-day Saints (36%) opposing same-sex marriage.

As an LGBTQ Mormon and as someone who studies LGBTQ Latter-day Saints, these statistics provide me some insight into the complicated position of Latter-day Saints. On one hand, Latter-day Saints’ support of nondiscrimination for LGBTQ individuals falls squarely within official church doctrine and practice. Indeed, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has formally supported nondiscrimination for LGBTQ people in Utah.

On the other hand, Latter-day Saints’ support of same-sex marriage goes contra to official church doctrine and practice. Indeed, the church formally asked its members to oppose same-sex marriage in California’s Proposition 8.

That nearly half of Latter-day Saints support same-sex marriage suggests that Latter-day Saints are increasingly finding themselves open to their LGBTQ peers, despite historical discouragement from being so. For me, it means that I could almost count on half of my LDS friends and family to come to my wedding without them feeling like they were betraying their deeply held beliefs.

Although the shift certainly spells out complicated times for church leaders — as they will soon navigate leading a church where most members support same-sex marriage — it also forecasts the beginning of a time when Latter-day Saints and LGBTQ individuals (including LGBTQ Latter-day Saints) can mutually respect each other’s different beliefs and lives.

Tyler Lefevor | Assistant Professor, Psychology, Utah State University

Tyler Lefevor, Ph.D., Centerville, is an assistant professor of psychology at Utah State University.