Monday, October 11, 2010

LDS Spokesman Michael Otterson Responds To Petition Package Presented By Human Rights Campaign; Joe Solmonese Not Trying To Change Church Doctrine

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has officially responded to the 800-page stack containing a petition letter and 150,000 signatures protesting against President Boyd K. Packer's Conference speech, "Cleansing The Inner Vessel". The package was presented by Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese on October 12th, 2010 outside the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. Scott Trotter, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accepted the delivery, but offered no comment at the time.

Media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, KSL Channel 5, and KSTU Channel 13. HRC published their own account HERE.

Michael Otterson, whose testimony in support of two gay nondiscrimination ordinances facilitated their passage by the Salt Lake City Council with a minimum of fuss last fall, was tabbed to provide the Church's response. Here are the key highlights:

"We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different — whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society".

"As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in his condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down".

"The church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. The church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other. It's not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation".

"Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position, and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood".

You can read the full transcript of Otterson's statement on the Deseret News and at, and watch it on the KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

Solmonese has said that telling people who are struggling with an LGBT identity they are unnatural and need to change is potentially harmful. He claims research shows gay youths who are rejected by their families are at an increased risk for suicide. Solmonese insists they're not out to change the Church's doctrine, just some of the rhetoric the group claims is hurtful to young people struggling with who they are and dangerous because it can encourage intolerance and bullies.

Unofficial LDS reaction is posted on By Common Consent, where the response was somewhat favorable, although a few naysayers thought the Church should make more concessions, and also on Faith Promoting Rumour, where initial response was more favorable.

But there are clearly different standards of tolerance in effect. It's a shame the LDS Church is expected to hew to a higher standard of tolerance than the gay community. Tolerance is supposed to be mutual.

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