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Gay Mormons challenge church

When a group of 300 Mormons in church clothes marched in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade earlier this month, it was the latest indication that — even for gay Mormons — it gets better.

For years, gay and lesbian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have defected from the fold, entered into “mixed orientation” marriages, or committed themselves to lives of celibacy. Some started same-sex relationships and were expelled from the church. An untold number took their own lives.

The church’s policy of banning same-sex relationships — while welcoming celibate gay members — has been firmly in place since the 1990s. Yet in the past year, a growing number of gay Mormons have gone public and challenged the Law of Chastity. In April, an unofficial student group at Brigham Young University called Understanding Same Gender Attraction released a video for Dan Savage’s online “It Gets Better” campaign. Several months earlier, Mitch Mayne was appointed secretary of his San Francisco ward, marking the first time in recent memory that an openly gay man was “called to serve” in Mormon lingo. And in the past year, the nonprofit Mormon Stories discussion group hosted a conference series on gay Mormons. (Mormon Stories is not affiliated with the LDS church.)

At the most recent Mormon Stories gathering in Washington, D.C., in April, Mormon gay rights advocate Carol Lynn Pearson summed up the mood: “The eagle has landed. The 100th monkey has appeared. It’s the tipping point, and we won’t go back.”

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