Mormons for Marriage Equality was surprised to hear Elder Dallin H. Oaks condemn same sex parenting during the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Just three weeks ago, Dallin, who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, appeared to support California’s recent ban on so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy. At a conference in Utah, Dallin warned of “unprofessional therapy practices on marriage and family concerns” and said the Mormon Church “accept[ed] professional counseling because it is subject to legal regulation, stands or falls on the principles of science, peer review, and competition.”
“Lots of Mormons interested in LGBT matters took his broader statement as affirming the recent ban against ex-gay therapy in California, and against ex-gay therapy in general,” Sara Long, the executive director of Mormons for Marriage Equality, told Raw Story in an email. “So naturally we figured that science and peer review should be consulted to see how children do in diverse families — because science and peer review show that children of same-sex couples do as well as the children of opposite-sex couples.”
At the General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday, however, Dallin said children raised by single parents or same sex couples were at a “significant disadvantage.”
“For children the relative stability of marriage matters,” he explained. “We should assume the same disadvantages for children raised by couples of the same gender. The social science literature is controversial and politically charged on the long term effect of this on children. Principally because, as a New York Times writer observed, ‘same sex marriage is a social experiment and like most experiments it will take time to understand its consequences.'”
But Oaks also condemned intolerance of young LGBT individuals, saying they are “particularly vulnerable” and “need loving understanding, not bullying or ostracism.”
That, at least, provided a glimmer of hope for Mormons for Marriage Equality.
“Each time a general authority repeats their words against bullying of LGBT individuals, they add hope,” Long said. “But the anti-bullying stance needs to be backed up with action. Bullying and meanness needs to be fervently counseled against to the youth of the church. Reported bullying by Mormons needs to be something that would draw church leader attention and church discipline from within the faith. Jesus’ example of love for our fellow man and good works to others should be our highest ideal.”
Members of Mormons for Marriage Equality have participated in Pride parades across the country, which was a surprising sight for many LGBT activists. The Mormon Church was a major supporter of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage in the state. The church has also fought against attempts to legalize same sex marriage in other states.