SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Friday afternoon after Brigham Young University clarified changes to the honor code, stating that homosexual behavior is not allowed on campus.
A letter from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church Education System was released this week addressing recent changes to the language in the BYU Honor Code.
The letter, sent out to BYU students and faculty stated: “The moral standards of the Church did not change... A foundational doctrine ... is that ‘marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God' ... Same-sex romantic behavior cannot lead to eternal marriage and is therefore not compatible” with the honor code.
Since the clarification, days of protests have ensued. Friday was the first protest to move to downtown Salt Lake City. Hundreds gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ church office. Protesters chanted things such as, “We’re here, we’re queer, we are done living in fear” and “LGBT, God loves you and God loves me.”
While they weren’t met with counter-protesters, the group was ready to let their voices be heard. The group marched around downtown to City Creek Park. While marching, many people on the roads honked and waved in support.
“It’s honestly just really unfair,” one protester said of BYU’s honor code clarification.
It hasn’t been easy coming out, another protester said, but she hopes people and the church can be more understating.
“I just know the God I believe in loves me and knows who I am and wants me to be happy,” she said.
Kate Lunnen, a BYU student and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said when it appeared the BYU honor code was accepting of all types of love on campus, she was overjoyed.
“I have never cried more in my entire life than that day. I am not even joking. I was in my apartment on the floor just sobbing because I was so happy. And that’s the first time I’ve ever cried about being happy to be gay,” she said.
She, like many others she said, decided to come out publicly after believing BYU was accepting of her love.
“To have something like that to point to and say, 'Hey, BYU knows it’s okay.' That was huge,” she said of when she told loved ones that she was gay.
Now, she is furious.
“For them to take that back, not only shuts down that conversation but it also shows they really put no thought into it,” Lunnen said. So, Friday she marched not only for herself and her story but for others.
A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released this statement to FOX 13 News:
“The teachings of the Church and the policies of our universities are consistent with eternal principles, and seek to encourage and strengthen relationships that lead to eternal covenants made with God. The Church and its leaders continue to teach that though there may be disagreement on an issue or policy, we should treat one other with love, respect and kindness.”