Women and the priesthood, same-sex marriage among topics at LDS General Conference

Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-06 19:20:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 183rd General Conference has generated headlines beyond the confines of the downtown Conference Center.

The event drew more than 100,000 people to Salt Lake City, and it marked the 50th anniversary of LDS Church President Thomas S Monson's calling to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Church officials made it clear they are still holding the line on two major cultural issues confronting them, beginning with the definition of marriage.

The issue was the subject of a talk given by Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“We know the marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of god's plan,” he said during his remarks. “Only this marriage will provide the approved setting for mortal birth, and to prepare family members for eternal life.”

In recent months and years, the LDS Church has made moves to present a kind face to the gay community, including its endorsement of Salt Lake City's non-discrimination laws, and its creation of a website reaching out to LGBT Mormons.

Leaders in the Utah LGBT community said the statements are just more of the same.

"There seems to be this discussion that it's a departure from a historic statement, but I actually don't believe there is any departure from their traditional stand on marriage," said Brandie Balken, Executive Director of Equality Utah. "I think it's also important to note there wasn't a diversion from their commitment to protection in the most basic arenas -- employment and housing."

On Saturday, several hundred women sought entry to the conference’s priesthood session, but they were denied. Some of those who sought entry are also asking LDS Church leaders to ordain women to the priesthood.

In a talk, Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the church’s view on priesthood authority.

“The priesthood is the power and authority of god given for the salvation and blessing of all men, women and children," he said. "A man may open the drapes so that the warm sunlight comes in to the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings. The blessings of the priesthood are infinitely greater than the one that is asked to administer the gift."

The semiannual conference concluded Sunday at 4 p.m.