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Press Conference Statement October 6, 2000 David & Carlie Hardy

We are here today as members of the LDS Church and parents of gay children. There are many families in the Church like us that deal with this issue. When you consider all the people who are directly or indirectly affected by the issue of same sex orientation - children, fathers, mothers, siblings, relatives, friends and associates - the number becomes truly significant. We do not resort to making a public statement lightly and without much consideration - we do this only after years of letters and personal pleadings with Church leaders have met with, at best - kindly indifference.

Tomorrow will see the commencement of the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We acknowledge the leadership of the Church for the influence for good they have worldwide, and the message of support for families that they have made central to the message of the Church. We are here as parents in need of their support.

We have called this press conference to ask the Church leadership to address the damaging pamphlets it continues to print and distribute to Wards and Stakes for use in teaching and counseling parents and their gay children. Although first published over 20 years ago, they continue to be printed and distributed today. The copies of these pamphlets we have here today were obtained from the Church Distribution Center just a few days ago.

These pamphlets have for decades formed a significant part of the understanding within the LDS Church of the issue of same sex orientation. We believe that many in our community are unaware of their specific content. These pamphlets contain hurtful and damaging language that promote fear and entrench ignorance of the realities of this issue; they cause parents to condemn and turn against their gay children - destroying real families - and drive our gay children to self-loathing, despair, and suicide.

Of particular concern is the recent re-release of the pamphlet To Young Men Only which admonishes young LDS men to "protect themselves" by physically assaulting gays when confronted with their homosexuality. This was re-released at the same time as the Matthew Shepard murder trials. Very few people in the LDS Church are aware that one of the two young men convicted of Matthew Shepard's beating death was a young Mormon Priesthood holder. As parents of gay children, it is difficult for us to understand why the Church, in the face of the national attention surrounding Matthew Shepard's beating death, would re-release something as inflammatory, insensitive and troubling as this.

To The One teaches that if our "mechanically broken" children are unable to change their sexual orientation, the real reason is because they are selfish. We are taught that many such perverts become predators of children. We are taught that medical and scientific findings about the causes and unchangeable nature of same sex orientation are wrong simply because that can be the only answer. We are taught we don't speak about this issue within the Church because if we discuss it or read about it, we are in danger of becoming homosexual.

Letter to a Friend, originally published in 1971, is replete with references to those who struggle with the issue of homosexuality as being "perverts," "abominations," and "servants of Satan." It pronounces in unequivocal terms that same sex orientation can and must be fully "cured," otherwise, "it were better that such a man were never born."

For The Strength of Youth is a pamphlet expected to be carried and read by all LDS youth. It specifically and prominently labels homosexuality as a "perversion" similar to rape and incest.

This is language that teaches our gay children that they are broken, but could change their sexual orientation if they really wanted to - and that if they fail to change it is because - they haven't been to enough therapy - they haven't prayed and fasted enough - they don't have enough faith - they haven't tried hard enough - they haven't been good enough. This works like a cancer on our children's sense of self-worth.

This is language that teaches our community to fear our children - to believe that their own children are at risk of being molested - or that their children can somehow be recruited or enticed into becoming gay. It motivates and condones violence against our children - cruel verbal and emotional violence in our schools on a daily basis - and at times even physical violence.

This is language that gives the false promise and sets the impossible goal of successfully changing ones sexual orientation as the standard by which our children are judged by their church leaders, their families, and all with whom they must interact on a daily basis - and by which our gay children must ultimately judge themselves.

This is language born of a failure to examine the realities of this issue that makes of our gay children latter-day lepers. It engenders fear and loathing both in others toward our gay children - and ultimately in our gay children toward themselves.

This is not language that provides any meaningful help or guidance to our children or to us as parents in facing the realities of this complex issue. Like all parents, we are trying to strengthen and hold our families together. This is language that tears our families apart.

At this time, we ask the Church leadership to specifically address these pamphlets - To Young Men Only, To the One, and Letter To A Friend - and either endorse them and everything they say as current, correct and official - or cease their publication and distribution, and instruct local Church leaders to throw away the copies they have. We ask that they revise the pamphlet For The Strength Of Youth to instruct its readers that same sex orientation is neither chosen nor changeable, and to remove its likening to incest and rape.

To the leadership of the LDS Church - whose influence places them in a position to make a real difference in this issue - we say again, "Please hear us." We represent a multitude of real families - real mothers, real fathers, real brothers and sisters - and we have a real need for your help in addressing this issue in a positive and productive way.

Summary of Quotes from the Pamphlets
"Letter To A Friend," "To The One," "To Young Men Only,"
and "For The Strength of Youth"

Letter To A Friend © 1971 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Author: President Spencer W. Kimbal, past President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. First printing 1971, revised 1978; latest printing post-1996.
Currently distributed to Stake and Ward leadership for counseling parents and their children.

"The death penalty was exacted in the days of Israel for such wrongdoing."

"Perversion is forgivable."

". . .the sin is curable, and you may totally recover from its tentacles."

"Satan tells his victims that it is a natural way of life; that it is normal; that perverts are a different kind of people born 'that way' and that they cannot change. This is a base lie."

"Homosexuality . . . means waste of power, an end to the family and to civilization. One generation of it would depopulate the world . . ."

". . . you are one who has yielded to the enticings of evil people and Lucifer, the 'father of lies'. . ."

". . . you can recover, and you can become the man your Heavenly Father created you to be."

". . . know that your sin is vicious and base."

". . . you should now make the super-human effort to rid yourself of your master, the devil, Satan . . ."

"You do the bidding of your master."

"You are in abject bondage, a servant compelled to do the will of your master, the devil, Lucifer, Satan . . . Is your father the Devil?"

"These unnatural practices are . . . of the Devil, the master liar and deceiver who laughs as he rattles his chains . . ."

"God made no man a pervert"

"So long as you tolerate this 'gay world' and its degenerate people, you are in a very desperate situation . . ."

"Men who die may live again, but when the spiritual death is total, it were better that such a man were never born."

"REMEMBER: Homosexuality CAN be cured."

To The One © 1978 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (owned by the Church )

Author: Elder Boyd K. Packer, acting-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). First printing 1978; latest printing post-1996.
Currently distributed to Stake and Ward leadership for counseling parents and their children.

". . . it is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction."

"Is this tendency impossible to change? Is it present at the time of birth and locked in? Do you just have to live with it? . . . The answer is a conclusive no!"

"Some so-called experts . . . teach that it is congenital and incurable. They can point to a history of very little success in trying to put whatever mechanism that causes this back into proper adjustment. They have, to support them, some very convincing evidence. Much of the so-called scientific literature concludes that there really is not much that can be done about it. I reject that conclusion our of hand . . . The Lord does not work by exceptions. He works by rules. Put a moral or a spiritual test upon it and the needle flips conclusively to the indicator that says 'correctable'."

"Some who become tangled up in this disorder become predators. They proselyte the young or the inexperienced."

"In a strange way, this [homosexuality] amounts to trying to love yourself."

"This condition cannot as yet be uniformly corrected by emotional or physical or psychiatric treatment. Depending on the severity, some forms of these treatments are of substantial help in about 25 percent of the cases."

". . . the cause, when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness."

"If one could even experiment with the possibility that selfishness . . . may be the cause of this disorder, that quickly clarifies many things. It opens the possibility of putting some very sick things in order."

"When one has the humility to admit that spiritual disorder is tied to perversion and that selfishness rests at the root of it, already the way is open to the treatment of the condition. It is a painful admission indeed that selfishness may be at the root of it . . ."

"I repeat; we have had very little success in trying to remedy perversion by treating perversion. It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness."

"Don't be mixed up in this twisted kind of self-love."

To Young Men Only © 1976 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (owned by the Church )

Author: Elder Boyd K. Packer, acting-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). First printing 1976; latest printing post-1996.
Currently distributed to Stake and Ward leadership for counseling parents and their children.

This pamphlet was re-released in October 1999, at the same time as the Wyoming murder trial for the second of the two young men who beat Matthew Shepard to death. One of the two killers, Russell Henderson, was a young Mormon Priesthood holder (a little-known fact within the Church, but confirmed by reporter Paula Glover of the Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle). This is not to say the Church was responsible for Russell Henderson's actions. The point is that through these pamphlets, a culture of fear, ignorance, and intolerance is permitted to exist within the Church. Russell Henderson pled guilty and thus avoided a trial. In the trial of the other young man, Aaron McKinney, one of the primary - but unsuccessful - defenses was "Gay Panic" ("he came on to me and I was so upset by his homosexuality that I beat him to death").

[On the subject of homosexuality; Elder Packer relating a personal experience]

"While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.
After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, 'I hit my companion.'
'Oh is that all,' I said in great relief.
'But I floored him,' he said.
After learning a little more, my response was "Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn't be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.'
I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself."

"Many of the world would, I am sure, be amused by this counsel. Let them be amused. They live by another standard, a lower one."

For The Strength of Youth © 1990 Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Currently distributed to all Church young men and young women, to be carried and referenced as an unfailing guide to daily living. Homosexuality is specifically likened to rape and incest.

"The Lord specifically forbids . . . sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape and incest) . . ."




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