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social sciences

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)  
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The Church has resisted the idea that sexual orientation may be genetic or otherwise hard-wired. Leaders frequently describe homosexuality as a "chosen lifestyle." The Church believes that through repentance, prayer, and fasting homosexuals may develop heterosexual desires.

Evergreen International, a nonprofit group organized in 1989 around Mormon principles, but not officially connected to the Church, offers a number of programs, including the invasive "reparative therapy," to help gay men and lesbians overcome their same-sex attraction, or at least to resist the urge to act upon it.

Sponsor Message.

Anti-Gay Political Activities

The Church's glorification of the patriarchally-defined heterosexual family unit has made it a powerful enemy of gay rights and feminism. It is not coincidental that the Mormon Church first flexed its political muscles nationally in their successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. The ERA, which would have guaranteed equal rights to women, was vigorously opposed by the Church. LDS President Spencer Kimball condemned the Amendment on the grounds that if it were approved, it would lead to laws that would extend equal rights to gay men and lesbians.

Though the LDS Church prefers to keep its political and financial activities undercover, it has participated in a number of anti-gay campaigns. One of the first occurred during the early 1990s in Hawaii, when the Church spent at least $600,000 in support of the referendum to amend the state constitution to forbid same-sex marriage. Later in the decade, hundreds of thousands of LDS dollars went to promote a similar amendment of the state constitution of Alaska as well.

More recently, the Church has supported both the attempt to amend the Constitution of the United States to forbid same-sex marriage and numerous state referenda and legislation that would outlaw same-sex marriage and limit gay rights.

The Church is also suspected of supporting individual candidates who oppose gay rights, fomenting opposition to gay-straight alliances in public schools, lobbying against hate crime legislation, and otherwise attacking the glbtq movement for equality.

Although most of its political positions are similar to those of the so-called religious right, Mormons occupy an ambiguous position in that coalition, since most Evangelical Christians regard them as suspect in various ways, some even declaring that Mormons are not really Christian at all.

Indeed, the Church's decision to become so prominently involved in the successful effort to pass California's 2008 Proposition 8, the initiative to repeal the right of same-sex couples to marry, may have been at least partially motivated by a desire to win the respect of other members of the religious coalition opposed to equal rights for homosexuals, including the Roman Catholic Church and numerous Evangelical denominations.

In any event, the participation of Mormons in the campaign on behalf of Proposition 8 was pivotal to the success of the initiative. At the behest of the Church, members are estimated to have contributed as much as $20 million to the campaign and to have served as the most conspicuous "foot soldiers" in the effort.

In response to the passage of Proposition 8, many members of the glbtq community targeted Mormon churches for protests and others called for boycotts of businesses owned by contributors to the campaign on behalf of Propostion 8.

In addition, Fred Karger, founder of a group called Californians Against Hate, filed a complaint against the Church with the Fair Political Practices Commission of California, alleging that the Mormon Church provided significant contributions to the pro-Proposition 8 campaign that it did not report, as required by state law, including commercials, phone banks, and websites. Other activists circulated petitions calling for the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the Church's tax-exempt status for its blatant participation in political activities.

Queer Mormons

In spite of all the religious, social, and political pressure that the Church exerts against them, queer Mormons do exist, though often in painful relation to the Church and their own families. The Church's elevation of the family unit and its emphasis on procreation frequently make glbtq members feel like pariahs. These policies often cause parents to reject their gay and lesbian children or to feel responsible for their "perversion."

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