Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends appreciates the work that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is doing with outside LGBTQ groups to secure housing and employment rights, as well as its support to codify marriage equality in the United States.
We wholeheartedly congratulate our LGBTQ peers in the civil arena who have worked tirelessly, often partnering with the LDS Church, to help move the Respect for Marriage Act forward. A great deal of good can come about through constructive politics and good faith negotiations as we work together to ensure protections and equality for LGBTQ people in their civil life.
Affirmation is mindful that LGBTQ Latter-day Saints do not have such an option to engage in constructive politics or good faith negotiations to address prejudice, harassment and discrimination that occurs within their spiritual home. Nowadays, LGBTQ Latter-day Saints and their families have a lot to be jealous about concerning the relationship the church has put the time, attention and resources to foster with outside LGBTQ organizations in the civil arena.
A great disconnect exists between the public sphere and the faith home of LGBTQ people, where Latter-day Saint families are offered less protections and equality within the church for their LGBTQ children than what is granted them by the laws of the land.
Religious freedom strategies — such as supporting a bill to protect marriage equality in exchange for protections that allow internal LGBTQ discrimination — solve external issues for both the church and the LGBTQ community, but ignore the internal reality of LGBTQ Latter-day Saints within their spiritual home, especially for those who participate in marriage equality or gender self-determination.
Every hour, an LGBTQ child is born into a Latter-day Saint home. They are a perpetually renewing internal resource within the church and a population that one cannot ignore indefinitely by only opting to act in the civil arena.
It is time for the church to get serious and start putting the same extensive time, attention, and resources into their own LGBTQ members and their families as they have done with outside LGBTQ groups. No amount of religious freedom success can compensate for failure within our spiritual home.
Nathan Kitchen, Gilbert, Arizona, is president of Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends.