Bundled in a new list of policies in handbooks given to Mormon leaders of over 30,000 congregations are new rules about same sex couples and their children. Written by leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these new guidelines follow the religions very public disapproval of gay marriage and structure.
In a public statement, Eric Hawkins, a Mormon spokesperson, said, ““The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages.” He continues that although the church “… respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
The bulk of the handbook’s new rules say that the children of same-sex couples are unable to join the church until they have reached adulthood, move out of their parents house, disavow gay relationships, AND are approved by church leadership. Additionally, any Mormons in same-sex marriages are considered in opposition of the church – committing apostasy – and will be excommunicated.
Prior to the policies release on November 5, 2015, it was more or less left up to individual church leaders and bishops in how they dealt with gay families, though the now-updated handbook said members that participated in “homosexual relationships” may be subject to discipline. The wording now has been changed to mandatory.
While the timing may seem odd, Mormons have a history of being outspoken against gay rights, most famously in their support of California’s Yes on Prop 8 (ban on same sex marriage) campaign in 2008. Mormon donations made up half of all contributions to the state constitutional amendment, which passed with 52% to 47% and halted the issuing of marriage licenses to same sex couples for five years. It was overturned in 2013 by a federal district court decision.