One of the most famous Mormons in the U.S., former pro football star Steve Young, has come out strongly as a supporter of LGBT rights, agreeing to a prominent role in a conference of gay Mormons.
Young, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and a direct descendant of early church leader Brigham Young, will be keynote speaker, along with his wife, Barbara, at the conference of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, to be held September 13-15, the group announced on its website.
The Youngs “hope to lend their voices to the healing work of making our families, our society and our church more welcoming places for our LGBT brothers and sisters,” according to a statement on the Affirmation site.
The couple made news in 2008 by displaying “No on Prop. 8” signs at their home in Palo Alto, Calif., taking a stand opposite the official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; church leaders had encouraged members to put money and time into efforts to pass the measure, which amended California’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Voters approved Proposition 8, but it was struck down this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, bringing marriage equality back to California.
During the Prop. 8 fight, Barbara Young said her stand was influenced by the fact that she has a gay brother, but her husband “remained relatively silent,” journalist Hank Plante notes in an op-ed for USA Today. “Now,” he adds, “both Youngs are being more vocal on gay rights.”
Plante’s column also mentions that the LDS Church “is softening its political opposition to gay rights” (read The Advocate’s analysis of recent developments here) and says the involvement of Hall of Famer Steve Young “is bound to push the issue even farther down the field.”