The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, reaffirmed its policy against same-sex relationships in its recently updated manual for missionaries, Preach My Gospel, reports Salt Lake City NPR affiliate KUER.
The policy, nicknamed the "November Policy" for its release on November 5, 2015, came just five months after the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case that established marriage equality in the United States.
The November Policy labels gay couples "apostates," a term Mormons use to refer to those who "turn away from the principles of the gospel." The manual states that in order for children to be baptized, a child's primary residence cannot be with parents in a same-sex relationship or with polygamists.
Addison Jenkins, a gay Mormon and student at Brigham Young University, told KUER that gay Mormons were given some flexibility in the time between the Supreme Court ruling and the release of the November Policy, but the new guidelines are clear.
“If you want to be gay and Mormon, OK, but you have to be Mormon. And you can’t really be gay," Jenkins said.
However, the church leadership never adopted a more tolerant stance regarding LGBTQ people. A year after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, Mormon leader Dallin H. Oaks reasserted the church's opposition to marriage equality.
In an interview posted the day after the policy's release, Elder D. Todd Christofferson likened same-sex marriage to polygamy (which the church once allowed), calling it a "serious kind of sin that requires Church discipline." While offspring of gay couples could not be baptized in childhood, the church would allow those children a baptism when they reach age 18, if they no longer live with the gay couple and take a position opposing same-sex relationships.
Christofferson explained that after a child is baptized within the Mormon Church, it marks the beginning of a "membership record," in which there is an "assignment of visiting and home teachers" and an expectation of participation in the church. The barring of these children from baptism, Christofferson said, is based on the conflict between Mormon doctrine and the relationship of their parents.
Though the church regards same-sex relationships as sinful, Christofferson said that Mormons who support marriage equality will not face disciplinary action on the part of the church.