Homosexuality and politics in Mormonism

Authored by: Neil J. Young

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351181600-18

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Abstract

This chapter examines the long history of the LDS Church’s involvement in the politics of homosexuality. Although a conservative organization, the LDS Church’s early history demonstrated a relative tolerance of homosexual activity among its members. In the mid-twentieth century as the United States experienced a “moral panic” over the rising visibility of gay men and women, the church developed a harsh anti-gay theology and supported laws against gay rights. The church directed most of its political efforts to preventing same-sex marriage, believing its legalization would threaten the church’s teachings and practices regarding marriage and its gendered theology of the family. In states across the country, the LDS Church led efforts to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMA), often carrying out its work surreptitiously. Among its members, the church characterized these efforts as moral rather than political, causing thousands of Mormons to take up the work against same-sex marriage as a religious calling. Yet this work took place alongside changing Mormon beliefs about homosexuality and the LDS Church’s growing support for civil rights protections for LGBT Americans outside of the question of marriage.

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