Mormon president surprises with transformative first year

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | At 94, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has proved a far more vigorous and transformative figure than scholars expected when he took office a year ago, pushing through a flurry of surprising changes on such matters as LGBTQ members and the name of the faith.

Russell M. Nelson made his biggest move yet on April 4 when he rescinded rules banning baptisms for children of gay parents and branding same-sex couples apostates subject to excommunication. Those 2015 policies had generated widespread backlash.

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Mormon church says it’s not opposed to hate-crime bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | The Mormon church said Jan. 24 it doesn’t oppose hate-crimes legislation in Utah that includes protections for LGBT people, an announcement that could break a longtime legislative logjam on the issue.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ sought to clarify that it has not actively been blocking hate crimes legislation and will not stand in the way if lawmakers take up the issue this year, said Marty Stephens, the faith’s director of government and community relations and a lobbyist for the church.

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Mormons to stay outdoors after split with Boy Scouts

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | The Mormon church’s new youth program, which will roll out in 2020 when it cuts all ties with Boy Scouts of America, will still include outdoor and adventure activities even as the initiative becomes more gospel-focused, the faith confirmed September 21.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a few more details about the initiative in a news release that said a full and detailed description will come later because different aspects of the program are still being tested.

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Provo couple opens their home, hearts to LGBTQ people

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PROVO, Utah (AP) | A Provo family has made their home a sort of sanctuary for members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who need something to eat and a place where they can escape from suicidal thoughts.

Jerilyn Hassell Pool and Jeff Pool run their nonprofit QueerMeals out of their home, the Daily Herald reported .

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LGBT group struggles for recognition at Mormon-run BYU

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) | An LGBTQ group at the Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University has tried unsuccessfully for three years to get recognition from the school.

Members of the Understanding Same Gender Attraction group told the Salt Lake Tribune for a story published this week that they feel like they have been strung along as school administrators repeatedly delay approving their application.

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Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds waves rainbow flag at Brazil festival

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds showed his support for the LGBTQ community by waving a rainbow flag at the Lollapalooza Brazil Festival in Sao Paulo.

Reynolds, 30, documented the moment with a special Twitter post.

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LGBT students at BYU speak out about lack of inclusion

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PROVO, Utah (AP) — At a rare, school-sanctioned event, four LGBT students at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University spoke to about 600 students about what it’s like to reconcile their religious beliefs with sexual identities that don’t fit within the religion’s belief system.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Addison Jenkins, who spoke at the first LGBT campus forum last year, said the school took a step forward Thursday by hosting the panel.

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Gay Mormon who made headlines for marrying a woman announces divorce

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Josh Weed, a Mormon who made headlines for his blog post explaining that he was in a happy marriage with his wife Lolly despite being a gay man, is now getting divorced.

Josh and Lolly, who started as childhood friends, have been married for ten years and have four daughters together. In 2012, Josh claimed in a blog post their marriage worked even though he wasn’t straight.

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Mormon leader reaffirms faith’s opposition to same-sex marriage

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A top Mormon leader reaffirmed the religion’s opposition to same-sex marriage on Saturday during a church conference — and reminded followers watching around the world that children should be raised in families led by a married man and woman no matter what becomes the norm in a “declining world.”

The speech by Dallin H. Oaks, a member of a top governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, followed a push in recent years by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to uphold theological opposition to gay marriage amid widespread social acceptance while trying to foster an empathetic stance toward LGBT people.

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12-year-old girl comes out as a lesbian to Mormon church

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Savannah Ward boldly came out as a lesbian to her Mormon church in Utah before she was asked to leave the stage in a moment captured on video.

“I believe I am a child of heavenly parents. I don’t know if they talk to us, but I feel in my heart that they made me and that they love me. I believe I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents,” Ward begins her testimony.

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Leaked video shows Mormon leaders discussing gay rights, Iraq war

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SALT LAKE CITY — In leaked videos, Mormon leaders discuss concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and hear from a former U.S. senator and church member who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings.

The 15 videos were posted online Oct. 2 during the final day of the religion’s twice-yearly conference. They show top leaders hearing presentations and discussing topics at meetings from 2007 to 2012.

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Utah hate crimes law too broad to charge anti-LGBT assaults harshly

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A Utah prosecutor said he can’t file anything tougher than misdemeanor assault charges this week against two Wyoming men accused of attacking two gay Salt Lake City men because the state’s hate crimes law is too broadly written and needs to be strengthened to include LGBT protections.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said July 21 that he didn’t file misdemeanor assault charges until July 20 in the 2014 attack because his office spent a lot of time trying to see if federal prosecutors could build a case against the men, or if his office could charge the duo under Utah’s hate crimes law, which he calls vague.

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