Is the Mormon church softening its stance on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community?
That's the question CNN's Dan Merica poses in a new article which implies that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "is subtly but unmistakably growing friendlier toward" the LGBT community, "including voicing support for some gay rights."
Among those interviewed is former Mormon bishop Kevin Kloosterman, who calls his much-publicized apology to a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November 2011 conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City a "coming out" process of sorts. "I came out and basically made a personal apology to [LGBT] folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” he said. (Watch Kloosterman's apology above)
All in all, it sounds like a big leap from a group so imminently tied to Prop 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, which has since been declared unconstitutional. In addition, Merica points to the new "It Gets Better" video produced by the LGBT population of the student body at Brigham Young University (BYU).
An estimated 98 percent of BYU's student body are practicing Mormons, and all are required to follow an honor code, which includes adherence to dress and grooming standards and abstinence from extramarital sex, among other restrictions. That video, which has since gone viral, was released earlier this month.
Still, others found the article "too perfectly timed."
"The church’s image is still heavily associated with the 2008 Prop. 8 campaign in California, and even though many Republicans oppose gay marriage, it’s not helpful for the Mormons to be tied to such a politically-charged issue at a time when it’s about to be under a lot of election-season media scrutiny," wrote Commentary Magazine's Alana Goodman, after noting that the CNN story felt like "part of some sort of Mormon church rebranding campaign."