Post submitted by Michael Toumayan, former HRC Senior Religion and Faith Program Manager
Thomas S. Monson, who presided over the rapidly-growing Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) since 2008, died Monday at his home in Salt Lake City. Monson, 90, who served in church leadership for more than 54 years, died of "causes incident to age,” according to a church release.
“We offer our condolences to Monson’s family and loved ones, and also to the many LDS members who have come to embrace their LGBTQ children, family and friends while working tirelessly to move their church towards an affirming stance,” said Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, HRC Foundation’s Director of Latinx and Catholic Initiatives. “As the church contemplates its path forward, we call on leaders to take this opportunity to open their hearts and doors and examine the pain many of their policies have caused to the LGBTQ community.”
During Monson’s tenure, thousands of Mormons resigned from the church to protest a new policy that includes a ban on the baptism of children of same-sex couples. That policy also characterizes the relationships of Mormons in same-sex couples as “serious transgressions,” and describes such couples as apostates of the faith who could be excommunicated.
During the first year of his presidency, Monson also played a painful leading role in the passage of California’s Proposition 8. The ballot measure, passed as a constitutional amendment, defined marriage as between a man and woman.
Across the nation, LGBTQ Mormons and their allies are already having important conversations about the role of faith in their lives. In 2017, HRC Foundation released “Coming Home to Mormonism Guide,” which provides advice and resources to help Mormons in the U.S. looking to engage more deeply with their faith, even in the face of significant challenges.
In the guide, Mormon LGBTQ advocates Wendy Montgomery and Bryce Cook call on the LDS Church to celebrate the full diversity of God’s children. We hope that Monson’s successor will follow their lead, and that a new day is dawning when we can all be embraced for who we are, whom we love and practice our faith without fear of rejection.