SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Protesters gathered across the street from Temple Square on South Temple Sunday to raise their voices against the new policy from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that states children of gay parents cannot join the church while living with their parents.
“They want the LDS church to live by the teachings of love, compassion, tolerance and, you know, it’s not happening right now,” said Gregory Lucero from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Members of the LGBT community spoke about the reasons they feel the LDS Church is wrong in its stance.
“For one of the richest and most powerful institutions to attack them, to criticize them, to make them less, is unconscionable,” Lucero said.
Some LDS Church members who watched the protest say, while they empathize with the LGBT community, they support their leaders’ decision.
“I have gay people in my family that I love and support for who they are, and I know it’s probably hard for them to hear and everything, but I kind of agree with what the church has to say,” said Maryann Smith, a member of the LDS Church.
“But we invite everyone to come to understand this, and we try to do that with love,” said another church member, Mosiah Martinez.
Some young LDS children who were visiting Temple Square said they’re concerned about the policy and think children should be able to decide for themselves.
“I think all people were created equal, so they should get the opportunity the same as everyone else,” said 12-year-old Nevaeh Wilson, a member of the LDS Church.
Protest organizers say they’re protecting the rights of LGBT people and the rights of their children, who they say should be able to decide how they worship.
“I’m not against religion, and I’m not against the LDS Church," Lucero said. "I just wish that they would treat people in a Christlike fashion: with love, kindness, and consideration."
Protesters said they hope LDS Church leaders heard their voices on Sunday and will change their stance on the issue. They say they will continue to fight for the rights of the LGBT community as long as they see injustice in any organization.
Friday, the LDS Church released a video in which their leadership elaborated on the policy. During the 10-minute interview, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles specifically addressed their reasons for prohibiting children of same-sex couples from joining the LDS Church while still living with their parents.
"We don't want there to be the conflicts that that would engender," he said. "We don't want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectations of the church are very different. And so, with the other ordinances on through baptism and so on, there's time for that, if, when that child reaches [legal age], he or she feels like that's what they want."