LDS Rhetoric on Homosexuality
Anti-Gay LDS Activities
Does the Church Have a Single Standard?
LDS Leaders Claim They Treat Gays and Heterosexuals Equally, but Facts Show Otherwise
By Seba Martínez
Since the 1980s LDS leaders have claimed that when they punish and discipline
gay and lesbian members, they use the same standard that applies to
heterosexuals. For instance, in an interview published in the San
Francisco Chronicle on March 13, 1997, President Gordon B. Hinckley
said: "Now, we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action
against such people—provided they don't become involved in transgression,
sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we'd
do with heterosexuals who transgress. We have a very strong moral teaching
concerning abstinence before marriage and total fidelity following marriage.
And, regardless of whether they're heterosexuals or otherwise, if they
step over that line there are certain sanctions, certain penalties that
are imposed." President Hinckley has made similar statements elsewhere,
as have other church leaders.
Facts, however, clearly contradict this claim of a single standard. Consider the following examples:
At Brigham Young University, gay students have been expelled for
holding hands, kissing, and receiving gifts from their same-sex dates. No one has ever heard of heterosexuals being expelled for these reasons. Is that the same standard?
- According to the secretive Church Handbook of Instructions,
"Church headquarters will automatically annotate a person's membership
record when the stake president or bishop... submits a Report of Church
Disciplinary Action showing that the person was disciplined for incest,
sexual offense against or serious physical abuse of a child, plural
marriage, an elective transsexual operation, repeated homosexual activity
(by adults), or embezzlement of Church funds or property" (1998 edition,
page 129). For repeated heterosexual activity, the annotation is not
required. Is that the same standard?
- The Church Handbook of Instructions lists adultery, fornication,
and homosexual activity as some of the "serious transgressions" that
require repentance before receiving a missionary call, but then makes
clear that gays and lesbians may actually not be eligible to serve:
"If a person has participated in homosexual activity during or after
the last three teenage years, he or she will not be considered for full-time
missionary service unless the bishop and stake president see strong
evidence of lasting repentance and reformation, with at least one year
free of transgression" (page 81). Such prevision doesn't exist for those
who engaged in heterosexual activity. Is that the same standard?