Editorial note: HRC has made changes. Read: “HRC Almost Gets It Right – Mormon Church Still Doesn’t Get It.”
The Human Rights Campaign has just issued a press release titled, “Mormon Church: Same-Sex Attraction is Normal,” based upon the Mormon Church’s rewording of it policies regarding homosexuals in the release of its new “Church Handbook of Instruction.” Nowhere in the Mormon Handbook does it state that “homosexuality is normal.” This is a dangerous misstep by HRC, and appears to be more of a marketing move than anything else, akin to the Obama administration last week branding the president’s India trip as a jobs creation effort. Neither is correct.
HRC says it “[recognizes] that the Mormon Church removed same-sex attraction as a sin in church policy.”
As I wrote earlier, the Mormon Handbook states, “Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of god, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in family life… Those who engage in homosexual behavior need to be taught the process of repentance and the purpose of life on earth.”
Additionally, homosexuality, according to the Mormon’s new Church Handbook of Instruction is still listed as a serious sin, contrary to HRC’s pronouncement. Pride In Utah’s Eric Ethington writes, “Today the HRC posted an article claiming that the Mormon church’s new handbook has removed Homosexuality from it’s “list of sins.” This is absolutely bogus!”
Asking, “did no one at the HRC bother to actually read the new handbook?,” he adds, “they still compare homosexuality to: Attempted Murder, Forcible Rape and Spouse Abuse.”
Many would be of good and fair mind to ask why HRC is making such a big deal out of such a small change in wording, in the context of an organization, the Mormon Church, that for centuries has demonized gays and lesbians and has (at least) enabled the funneling of untold millions of dollars into the funding of Prop 8.
At the center of HRC’s apparent glee is that the Mormon Church’s written policy now is not to force its homosexual members into reparative therapy. It does, however, suggest to its bishops that therapy may be the right course of action. In fact, it offers a telephone number.
Not forcing LGBTQ Mormons into “ex-gay” therapy is certainly a significant step forward, but the fact remains that there is a difference between official policy and practice. A change in wording does not, especially overnight, change hearts or minds. Anyone with common sense will agree that Mormon families will not embrace their LGBTQ children now, just because this change in semantics has been printed.
As usual, HRC has jumped in quickly to take credit where any is available. They write, “The new guidelines clearly show that advocacy efforts pay off with real change,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We spoke out against the harms of so-called ‘reparative therapies’ on LGBT young people. Church leaders heard us and responded by dropping their recommendation that such discredited interventions be forced on LGBT and questioning youth.”
I honestly doubt the Mormon Church leadership said, “Joe Solmonese is on the phone, we should call homosexuality normal now!”
There are several issues here. Is the Mormon Church really making positive steps toward acceptance of homosexuality, or are they jut becoming better at the PR game? And IF they are making positive steps, what steps have they taken to ensure changing its followers personal beliefs toward homosexuality? Additionally, whatever the Mormon Church’s motives, think about this: When a federal judge ruled this year that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was unconstitutional, LGBT veterans organizations like SLDN went on a campaign urging gay and lesbian soldiers to not come out, as the full ramification of the ruling were unclear. HRC should have warned LGBTQ members of the Mormon Church, not issued a press release as if speaking for the Church.
For their part, HRC tells me they are closely examining the issue.
Stay tuned. I’ll update this as I hear more from HRC.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.