On October 11th, 2010, gay rights representatives led by Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese delivered an 800-page stack which contained a petition letter and 150,000 signatures protesting against President Boyd K. Packer's Conference speech, "Cleansing The Inner Vessel" to the LDS Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. Scott Trotter, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accepted the delivery, but offered no comment at the time. The Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, and Affirmation, a support group for gay Mormons, backed the petition effort. Human Rights Campaign has published their own story HERE.
Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign to persuade people to write letters to President Packer sustaining and supporting him continues unabated. Learn about this campaign at the following link:
Solmonese, along with other advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, says that telling people who are struggling with an LGBT identity they are unnatural and need to change is potentially harmful. He claims research shows gay youths who are rejected by their families are at an increased risk for suicide. Solmonese claims they're not out to change the Church's doctrine, just some of the rhetoric the group claims is hurtful to young people struggling with who they are and dangerous because it can encourage intolerance and bullies. KSL Channel 5 news video embedded below:
It was another LDS Church spokesman, Michael Otterson, who drew the "short straw" and got tasked to deliver the Church's response. Otterson was a good selection; it was his testimony in support of two gay nondiscrimination ordinances that greased the skids for their passage by the Salt Lake City Council with a minimum of fuss last fall. Otterson called for unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different, and asked all people, particularly members of the the LDS Church, to speak out against bullying or intimidation and to carefully reflect on whether their attitudes and actions to others properly reflect Jesus Christ's second great commandment to love one another. Otterson clearly laid out the Church's position on marriage, saying, "Any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman", and he also said the Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood. But he made it explicitly clear that the Church's position should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness and that the Church's doctrine is based on love. You can read the full transcript of Otterson's statement on the Deseret News and at LDS.org, and watch it on the KSL news video embedded below:
Additional media stories on KSTU Channel 13 and KTVX Channel 4.
Eric Ethington, an ex-Mormon gay rights extremist, has posted photos and commentary about the petition presentation HERE and about the LDS response HERE. Unofficial LDS reaction is posted on By Common Consent, where the response in generally favorable except for one anklebiter who stubbornly insists that the Church must change its doctrine to make him happy, and also on Faith Promoting Rumour, where initial response is also favorable.