The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, has introduced a new policy that deems married LGBT couples apostate and prohibits blessing or baptizing children that live in their homes until they turn 18.
“Church handbooks are policy and procedural guides for lay leaders who must administer the church in many varied circumstances throughout the world,” read a statement from Eric Hawkins, an LDS Church spokesman. “The Church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages. While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”
The handbook will now add same-sex marriage to the definition of apostasy and place “sexual cohabitation” next to “homosexual relations” in a list of “serious transgressions” that require action from church disciplinary councils. Homosexual relations had previously been on the list without mention of cohabitation, set alongside other things such as attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, and “deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities.”
The update will also add a new section to the handbook entitled ”Children of a Parent Living in a Same-Gender Relationship.” The document now insists that “a natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting, may not receive a name and a blessing.”
Traditionally, a Mormon child can be baptized at age 8, but earlier they can “receive a name” and have their information entered into the church’s membership record. But according to Desert News, now the only way to baptize “a natural or adopted child of a parent living in a same-gender relationship, whether the couple is married or cohabiting” is if they leave home at 18 and “specifically [disavow] the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.” Only then can they be confirmed, ordained to the priesthood, or serve a full-time mission — assuming they are granted approval from the Office of the First Presidency, the highest governing body of the Church.
The LDS church has long opposed to same-sex marriage, and played a role in helping pass Proposition 8 in California during the 2008 election, which briefly made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. The church has made no moves to change its theological opposition to same-sex relationships, but it did endorse a Utah nondiscrimination law that offered LGBT people housing and workplace protections — albeit with some major exceptions.
ThinkProgress reached out to the LDS Church press office for comment on this story, but did not receive a reply by press time.