In Leaked Document, Mormon Church Leaders Say Gay Men Just Need To Be Taught “Manly Things”

Elders also called marriage equality an "evil [that] will divide our nation in half."

A document that reportedly includes details of a Mormon leadership conference reveals how church leaders respond to questions about dealing with gay people.

On Tuesday, MormonLeaks, which posts sensitive LDS documents to encourage more transparency within the church, leaked what it claimed was the minutes of a Utah Layton Priesthood Leadership Conference from February 2014.

According to the site, the event was attended by numerous members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other governing bodies and touched on a variety of issues, including church doctrine, agnosticism, and religious freedom. At one point Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve is asked “How do you help a young man or young woman who comes in and says ’I think I’m gay’?”

“Give them association with manly things,” he replied. “Strong men that represent the ideal of relationships, a man who is vigorous and knows the power he holds.”

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Another Elder, Don R. Clarke, suggests teaching young gay people to remain “worthy.” Official church policy maintains that while same-sex attractions are in themselves not sins, Mormons are forbidden from acting on them. “If they are worthy, they are acceptable before God,” said Clarke, “and they should be acceptable before you.”

Asked how to address a same-sex couple that shows “inappropriate affection” during services, Perry said they should be brought into the Elder’s office for a reprimand.

“I would invite them to come into my office right after and let them know they were out of line. I would let them know that repentance is possible… [But] adultery is still adultery. Fornication is still fornication. We should continually warn those living in sin that they are jeopardizing their eternal salvation.”

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While marriage equality was still more than a year away at this point, Perry warned that the church had to work hard at “defending marriage and defending God’s plan for His children.” Fresh on his mind, no doubt, was the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision throwing out Proposition 8. (The referendum, which banned same-sex marriage in California, received significant support from the Mormon Church.)

“This evil will divide our nation in half,” he said of LGBT equality. “You know they will never stop. They move one inch at a time until they have forced upon all. Unfortunately the Supreme Court is listening to the voice of the people through the administration that is currently in place.”

Read the full text of the minutes from the Utah Layton Priesthood Leadership Conference here.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.