SALT LAKE CITY —
The conference is widely followed and analyzed on social media, with many using the Twitter hash tag, “(hash)LDSconf.”
Gay marriage has been an especially hot topic in Utah since December, when a federal judge overturned Utah’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples married until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on marriages pending a ruling from a federal appeals court in Denver. A hearing is set there for Thursday.
Andersen encouraged church members not to buckle under the pressure of a growing movement on social media and elsewhere by advocates who want to make gay marriage legal. He offered the example of a woman who articulated her support for “traditional marriage” on Facebook and refused to take it down despite backlash.
Andersen is a member of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve, which is the second-highest governing body of the church. Modeled after Jesus Christ’s apostles, the 12 men serve under the church president and his two counselors.
Andersen said church members who “struggle with same-sex attraction” should be of special concern. He said he admires people who confront this “trial of faith and stay true to the commandments of God.”
“But everyone, independent of their decisions and beliefs, deserves our kindness and consideration,” Andersen said.
The church teaches that while same-sex attraction itself isn’t a sin, succumbing to it is.
The church’s message on homosexuality has evolved since it was one of the leading forces behind California’s Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage. A website launched last year encouraged more compassion toward gays, implored them to stay in the faith and clarified that church leaders no longer “necessarily advise” gays to marry people of the opposite sex in what used to be a widely practiced Mormon workaround for homosexuality.