Today, the First Presidency announced that children of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals may now be blessed as infants and later baptized as members of the Church without First Presidency approval if the parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.
The church also will update its handbook of instructions changing a November 2015 policy that entering a same-sex marriage was apostasy requiring a church disciplinary council.
From the Church’s Newsroom:
President Dallin H. Oaks instructed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility — even when we disagree. God has promised all blessings to those who strive to keep His commandments, and we have a duty to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.” While we cannot change the Lord’s doctrine, we want our members and our policies to be considerate of those struggling with the challenges of mortality. In his remarks, President Oaks shared information about changes to recent Church policies related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members.
Details shared by President Oaks:
At the direction of the First Presidency, President Oaks shared that effective immediately, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.
A nonmember parent or parents (including LGBT parents) can request that their baby be blessed by a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder. These parents need to understand that congregation members will contact them periodically, and that when the child who has been blessed reaches 8 years of age, a Church member will contact them and propose that the child be baptized.
Previously, our Handbook characterized same-gender marriage by a member as apostasy. While we still consider such a marriage to be a serious transgression, it will not be treated as apostasy for purposes of Church discipline. Instead, the immoral conduct in heterosexual or homosexual relationships will be treated in the same way.
The very positive policies announced this morning should help affected families. In addition, our members’ efforts to show more understanding, compassion and love should increase respect and understanding among all people of goodwill. We want to reduce the hate and contention so common today. We are optimistic that a majority of people — whatever their beliefs and orientations — long for better understanding and less contentious communications. That is surely our desire, and we seek the help of our members and others to attain it.
Church leaders make clear distinctions between Church doctrine and Church policies. These changes are limited to policies and do not represent a shift in Church doctrine related to marriage or the commandments regarding chastity and morality. The doctrine of the plan of salvation and the importance of chastity will not change.
These policy changes come after an extended period of counseling with our brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and after fervent, united prayer to understand the will of the Lord on these matters.