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Hundreds resign from LDS church in response to new LGBT policy

November 15th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Katherine Taylor
katherinedtaylor.com

Hundreds of people gathered at Salt Lake City’s City Creek Park on Saturday in a mass resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protest new church rules regarding gay marriage and the rights of children of gay couples.

With help from volunteer lawyers and notaries of the public, members of the LDS church wrote people-at-parktheir resignation letters; after marching together past the temple, members put their letters in a mailbox by Temple Square.

Ashley Wilkinson, a mother of four, stood at the mailbox, holding it open as they dropped their letters in.

“I sent my resignation email after the announcement. I just didn’t want to wait; I had to do it that night,” Wilkinson said. “But I wanted to come to be supportive and listen and be a part of the march.”

Like many others attending, Wilkinson had been inactive in the church, but never chose to officially resign until the church’s new policy was revealed. The new rules, spelled out in an updated version of a policy manual intended for lay leaders and leaked online earlier this month, stipulates that children living in a same-sex household may not receive baptisms or blessings until they are 18, and only then if they disavow their gay parents’ relationship.

“I never really saw the point of having my name removed until the policy. It was drawing a line in the sand,” Wilkinson said. “I was married to a gay man for 13 years. We have four kids. We’ve been divorced for five years, and he’s my best friend.”

Organizers of the event emphasized that it was meant to show those leaving the church and those affected by the church’s new policy that they are not alone.

“I hope that this event can offer support to those struggling with this faith transition, let them know they aren’t alone and that they still have community,” said Lauren McNamara, who helped organize the event. “I want them to see the support they have in the community, member and nonmember alike, who recognize that this is hard, and are coming to stand with them and show their love.”

Alexandra Johnson, a recent Utah State University graduate, mailed her resignation letter in response to the new policy.

“I stopped going when I was fifteen15, and I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time,” Johnson said. “This was just the really, really giant straw that broke the camel’s back.”

According to Jolene Mewing, a leader of the Utah chapter of Marriage Equality USA, the policy has already impacted families. After seeing the pain this policy has caused in her community, Mewing decided to resign from the church.

“This is going to pit the children against the gay parent,” Mewing said at the event. “It’s going to cause so much conflict in the homes. I already know of one parent here who has been disavowed — since this announcement — by two of his daughters. It’s that serious, and it’s that sad. One minute it’s ‘I love you dad,’ and the next minute, ‘I choose my church over you, dad.’ This is causing real pain.”

-mdl

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