Group protests LDS policy on same-sex marriage and children

A group of about 50 gay rights supporters held a peaceful protest Sunday at Temple Square, voicing their opposition to new policies issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding same-sex couples and their children.

On Thursday, the church released an updated handbook for lay leaders of Mormon congregations mandating church discipline for same-sex couples who marry and prohibiting their children from receiving baby blessings or being baptized until they reach age 18.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the new policies are designed to protect children from conflict, not to limit the opportunities for children in the church.

“We don’t want the child to have to deal with issues that might arise where the parents feel one way and the expectation of the church is very different,” he said.

The update affirmed one of the church’s fundamental doctrines that marriage is between a man and a woman. The policy also clarifies that same-sex marriage is considered apostasy and requires a church disciplinary council.

“We recognize the same sex-marriages are now legal in the United States and other countries,” Elder Christofferson said, “and that people have the right if they choose to enter into those, and we understand that, but that’s not a right that exists in the church. That’s the clarification.”

Gregory Lucero, who organized Sunday’s protest, said he believes the church is wrong.

“We put pressure on these men of power and wealth and we say no,” Lucero said. “We are all together and we say no.”

Lucero told the group the church needs to stop being a club of exclusion.

“Though we may have anger, the anger comes from love,” he said.

The protest included more than four dozen people, many holding signs. One woman’s missive said, “This mama bear is mad. No more bullying the kids.”

Carly Haldeman said she was raised a bishop’s daughter and can’t understand the church’s new policies.

“I call for an end to the oppression and to stop the hate,” she said.

Lucero said it is distressing that the church continues to perpetuate inequity with its release of the updated policies.

“This is about basic human rights. … The church needs to put aside this bigotry and follow the teachings of Christ.”

Elder Christofferson said the goal of the policy regarding children is to protect them so “they are not placed in a position where there are difficulties, challenges, conflicts that can injure their development in very tender years.”

The new policies are similar to multiple church policies and practices regarding baptism, including a policy that says no child between 8 and 18 may be baptized without parental approval. Another example is that children of polygamist families cannot receive church ordinances until they are 18 and commit to living the teachings of the church and disavow the practice of polygamy.