Mormon Church reaffirms opposition to equal marriage, says gay Mormons are of "special concern"

"Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are ... lawfully wedded as husband and wife"

By Katie McDonough
Published April 7, 2014 2:35PM (EDT)

Support for equal marriage is at an all-time high, but the sea change in public opinion has done nothing to move the leadership of the Mormon Church on the issue.

Church leaders acknowledged as much this Saturday during the church's semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Neil L. Andersen, an elder in the the second-highest governing body in the church, told audience members (and listeners streaming the broadcast throughout the country), “While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not."

Andersen went on to warn of "whirlwinds" that would test many Mormons' deeply conservative values.

But as Matt Pearce at the Los Angeles Times reports, the church is not immune to change. The church ended the practice of plural marriage in 1890 in order to become a state. It announced, in the late 1970s, that black men could become ordained priests. Both of these doctrines were previously defended as being rooted in "God's law" -- until they weren't.

But on the issue of accepting LGBTQ individuals and embracing equal marriage, Andersen said "God's law" is clear. Quoting from a church statement in response to a federal ruling striking down the state's ban on equal marriage (the ruling is currently stayed pending the state's appeal), Andersen said, "Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife." Adding, that Mormons who "struggle with same-sex attraction" were of "special concern."


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Equal Rights Gay Rights Lgbtq Rights Mormon Church Mormonism Religion