Thousands of LGBT Mormons quit the Church following its new policy that calls those in same-sex relationships "apostates" and denies their children baptisms.
It was an emotional scene in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, where thousands of LGBT Mormons from dozens of states gathered. With 1,000 letters of resignation already submitted online, attorneys received an additional 1,500 letters at the Salt Lake event, which were placed on the lawyers' letterhead to expedite the process. Some ceremoniously walked to mailboxes to send off their final communication with the church.
"I do feel a sense of relief," former Mormon Kyler McGhee told KUTV on his decision to leave LDS. "Unfortunately, the Church decided to slam their doors in our face."
Many of the participants at Saturday's event told KUTV they long ago left the church; about five percent of people taking part at the event were believed to be recently active members of LDS.
Nontheless, the Church released the following statement on the event:
"We don't want to see anyone leave the Church, especially people who have been struggling with any aspect of their life. The Church exists to build people and help them heal, and there isn't one of us who doesn't need help at some point in our lives. We hope that today's guidance from Church leaders and the additional commentary will help provide understanding and context to some who may be considering resigning their membership. It's extremely important that our members read what leaders have said, and do not rely on other sources or interpretations or what people think they have said."
The new Church policy characterizes a same-sex relationship as a "serious transgression" and labels those in them as "apostates," something reserved for those who commit crimes like murder and rape. It bans children of such couples from taking part in the Church and refuses them baptisms. "The policy also marks the first time a Christian church has enshrined a baptismal ban on children of same-sex couples," according to the HRC.
"Thousands of the Mormon faithful standing with the LGBT community sends a powerful message that love will always win," Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC's Senior Vice President of Programs, Research and Training, said in a statement. "Turning children away, asking them to disavow their parents, and devaluing the lives of same-sex couples and their families is shocking to people of faith committed to welcoming all God's children. We hope that church leaders will reconsider this hurtful and deplorable policy."