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Merger Creates Largest 'Ex-Gay' Mormon Ministry

Utah-based "ex-gay" Mormon support group Evergreen International has merged with North Star, a similar group, as the state awaits a decision from SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor on whether its marriage equality status will be upheld, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

MansfieldBefore doing so, Evergreen International turned over some of its resources and mailing lists — said to number up to 30,000 participants, including many from Spanish-speaking countries — to a newer LDS-based gay support group, North Star.

Combining the two groups, organizers say, will create "the largest single faith-based ministry organization for Latter-day Saints who experience same-sex attraction or gender-identity incongruence and will also provide increased access to resources for church leaders, parents, family and friends."

North Star claims it does not advocate reparative therapy, but it does not object to it either:

As to the question of changing or diminishing sexual orientation, North Star takes no position, says the group’s newly named president, Ty Mansfield (pitcured).

"If someone had a positive experience with reparative therapy or change, we are OK with them sharing that," says Mansfield, a marriage and family therapist in Provo. "If they had a negative experience, they can share that, too."

From the North Star press release:

Founded in 1989 as a non-profit education and resource organization by individuals who were experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA/SGA) in their own lives, Evergreen International was founded on the belief that the atonement of Jesus Christ enables every soul the opportunity to turn away from all sins or conditions that obstruct their temporal and eternal happiness and potential. Evergreen attests that individuals can overcome homosexual behavior and can diminish same-sex attraction, and is committed to assisting individuals who wish to do so. Evergreen provides education, guidance, and support and is available as a resource to family, friends, professional counselors, religious leaders, and all others involved in assisting individuals who desire to change.

Founded in 2006, North Star is a peer-led, community-driven organization—a grass-roots effort with a mission to empower men and women who experience same-sex attraction and gender identity issues, as well as their friends, spouses, or other family members, to more authentically and healthily live the gospel of Jesus Christ. North Star is successful because of the efforts of many individuals who contribute their time, talents, and hearts to various aspects of its mission. Though it is not a membership-based organization, North Star serves as a resource to the community through its website (NorthStarLDS.org), eighteen on-line discussion groups organized around specific user demographics, bi-monthly firesides, an annual conference, wives retreats, couples retreats, the Voices of Hope Project, and more.


Boy Scouts to Welcome Gay Members Starting January 1

BY SAMANTHA STAINBURN / GlobalPost

As Towleroad reported in yesterday's round-up, The Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting openly gay members on Jan. 1.

BoyscoutsIt’s a notable evolution for an organization with religious roots. Some 70 percent of scout units are sponsored by religious organizations. But BSA executives are hoping the policy change will be no big deal.

"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare," Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee, told the Associated Press. "It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."

Some 60 percent of the BSA’s National Council approved the change in May, and several churches have said they support the move.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – scouting’s biggest sponsor – and the Roman Catholic Church have said they will continue to sponsor scout units, though the Catholic Church said it was leaving the decision of whether to participate up to individual bishops.

Some individual scout troops have chosen to leave the organization rather than go along with the new policy.

Boy Scout Troop 835 in Auburn, Washington, for example, will become the Help Northwest Youth Corps on Jan. 1, KING 5 News reported.

Its scoutmaster, Jim Brass, explained his decision to end his troop’s affiliation with the Boy Scouts: "If they announced, 'We're all going to start getting drunk,' we'd still leave. And to say we're reverent but we're going to go against something specifically God said, it doesn't sit well with me."

He said all but two of his scouts chose to leave with his group rather than join another Boy Scout troop.

He added, "I'm not homophobic. I love people. I just don't want to embrace what everybody does."


Mormon Church Releases Statement on Utah Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

LdsThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints released a statement regarding Judge Robert Shelby's ruling on Friday legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah:

The Church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.

(via good as you)


NOM and the LDS Church May Be In Violation Of Hawaii's Lobbying Laws

Nom

Adding more to the mounting pile of evidence that the National Organization for Marriage can't achieve their goals without breaking the law, LGBT activist Fred Karger (pictured, below) issued an 11-page report detailing the illegal activities of NOM and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the state of Hawaii.

KargerPrimary among the complaints are that the Mormon Church is refusing to register their paid employees who are lobbying Hawaii Legislators, and BYU Hawaii President Steven C. Wheelwright, who donated almost a quarter of a million dollars in support of California's Proposition 8, is thought to be one of the most prominent unregistered lobbyists. 

Meanwhile, NOM has failed to register for grassroots lobbying prior to their massive television ad campaign, an activity that most certainly exceeds Hawaii's definition of a lobbyist as someone who is "either spending five hours of their time in a month or $750 of their means."

A PDF of Karger's very detailed letter can be found here: Download Hawaii Ethics Commission Letter.


Mormon Leaders Reiterate Church's Opposition to Gay Marriage at LDS General Conference

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 9.50.52 AM

At the 83rd LDS General Conference yesterday, Mormon leaders doubled down on the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage and pushed against the "political and social pressures" that would seek to change official doctrines on sexual morality. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

These pressures "have already permitted same-gender marriages in various states and nations," [apostle Dallin H.] Oaks told 20,000 Mormons gathered in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and millions more watching worldwide via telecast and the Internet. "Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God's great plan of happiness."

An LDS eternal perspective does not allow Mormons "to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them," said the apostle, a former Utah Supreme Court Justice. "And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has declared to be unchangeable."

The LDS stance against same-sex marriage might be misunderstood, elicit "accusations of bigotry" or trigger "invasions of our free exercise of religion," he said. But "we should remember our first priority - to serve God - and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited."

Leaders at the conference also weighed in on the issue of women and the all-male LDS priesthood. Spoiler alert: they rejected the push to ordain women. Next year perhaps?  


Former NFL Quarterback Steve Young Speaks to Conference of Gay Mormons: VIDEO

Young

As we mentioned over the weekend former NFL quarterback and Super Bowl champion Steve Young and his wife Barb spoke on Saturday night at the 32nd annual Affirmation International Conference for LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends in Salt Lake City.

Barb_youngWatch Steve and Barb speak, AFTER THE JUMP...

The AP reports:

The former BYU quarterback said his goal "is to build bridges with my gay brothers and sisters. We need to see each other as Jesus sees us."

Young also reminisced about winning the Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, and spoke about relying on faith. "(Faith is the) fundamental fuel for the human experience," he said. "If the experience is to return to our Heavenly Father, faith is the fuel from beginning to end."

He introduced his wife, Barb, as an advocate for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. "There is not a day that goes by that you are not on her mind. She has spent countless hours advocating for you," Young told the crowd.

Barb Young, a Mormon convert whose older brother is gay, actively opposed California's Proposition 8 in 2008, even though leaders of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enlisted members to work for its passage.

Watch Steve and Barb speak, AFTER THE JUMP...

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