[Un-Affirmed, Again] The international support group Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons was supposed to meet with LDS Church President Thomas Monson on Aug. 11--the culmination of years of work by the group to get a sympathetic ear from church hierarchy.
On July 24, church leaders abruptly canceled the scheduled conversation and requested the meeting take place "next year." Affirmation's executive committee, however, doesn't plan on taking no for an answer. In an e-mailed press release, the group says it will meet at Salt Lake City's Pride Center at 10 a.m. Monday, and make itself available to any LDS poobah (my word, not theirs) who cares to show up to the breakfast meeting. The media is also invited.
The Mormon Church's official stand on gay members is the old "hate the sin, love the sinner" idea. That is, gay and lesbians are welcome in the church so long as they remain celibate.
As to the Monday breakfast meeting, well, I wouldn't yet order up the cinnamon buns and decaf, Affirmation.
Nevertheless, Affirmation Executive Director Olin Thomas plans to fly in from his home in Alexandria, Va., for the non-meeting. The group was to have focused on what it says is a shockingly high rate of homelessness and suicides among young gay and lesbian Mormons. Affirmation says it has 30 documented cases of suicide that can be directly linked to the isolation and depression gay church members experience.
"In recent years, the Church’s view towards gay and lesbian people has changed, and church leaders now recognize that being gay is a biological characteristic,” says David Melson, Affirmation’s senior assistant executive director, in the press release. “The items that we had planned to discuss all focus on education and on toning down some of the rhetoric. Nothing that we will be proposing requires any change in doctrine.”
“We are concerned at the church’s decision to not attend the meeting on August 11. The deaths, the homelessness, and the grief that occur because of well-intentioned but misguided practices are real, and they must all stop, now.”
Good luck, I say. I've always found it deeply mysterious people would want to remain in a club that wouldn't welcome them--unequivocally--as members. But that's just me.
Above: Affirmation members in 1979, during a march in Washington D.C. (Holly Mullen)