SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - HRC, The Human Rights Campaign, is reacting swiftly and strongly to comments made by Boyd K. Packer, the President of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
At this weekend's LDS General Conference, President Packer told millions of Mormons that same-sex attraction can be overcome and any marriage not between a man and a woman is immoral.
The HRC calls itself the largest civil rights organization dedicated to gay and lesbian equality.
Monday, the HRC released a statement saying that President Packer needs to "correct" his statements.
Also, the HRC called President Packer's rhetoric, "inaccurate and dangerous."
During his talk, Elder Packer spoke of homosexual tendencies saying, "Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural."
Packer later added, "There are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God's laws and nature."
As president and the senior member of the Quorom of the Twelve, Packer is next in succession to become president of the church.
ABC 4 News will have more on this developing story.
HRC now says it will issue a "nation-wide action alert" to call attention to President Packer's remarks.
Its email will reportedly include a petition.
Also, a local protest over President Packer's comments is now being planned for Thursday night at City Creek Park.
LDS Church statement on Elder Packer's talk
The Church’s doctrine on the importance of marriage and family and its implications for same-gender marriage are very clear and are based on principles of truth, respect, and love for all of god’s children. We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone.
The recent general conference addresses of church leaders can be viewed in their entirety at www.lds.org. Additional important material can be found at www.newsroom.lds.org.
This material will help anyone looking for more information on these important issues.
HRC Statement on Packer
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, today called on Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to correct statements he made yesterday calling same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural,” claiming that it can be corrected and characterizing same-sex marriage as immoral. Packer’s inaccurate and dangerous rhetoric comes on the heels of the suicides of at least four teenagers over the past month, all victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment. An additional seven teens committed suicide in the past year in one Minnesota school district alone; three of the teens’ suicides were connected to anti-gay bullying. Packer, who is 86 and one of the church’s most senior leaders, made his statements to a crowd of 20,000 – and millions more watching via satellite transmission -- during the church’s 180th Semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City.
“Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide,” said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. “When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.”
As a church leader immersed in these issues, Packer should know better. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church -- is unhealthy and harmful. This is not the first instance in which the church has spewed lies related to same-sex orientation. Last summer, another senior member of the church’s hierarchy, promised that same-sex attraction could be cured. “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning – and maybe even before then – you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex,” Mormon Church leader Bruce Haffen told a conference.
Packer also took the opportunity to dismiss efforts toward marriage equality as ones that “legalize immorality.” Ominously during this speech, the apostle declared that the church hierarchy’s opposition to marriage equality “…will not change.” As HRC has chronicled on its website www.NOMExposed.org, the Mormon Church is a key funder of the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a powerful fringe group that regularly encourages anti-gay attitudes and behaviors. The church was also a prime funder of efforts to pass Prop. 8 in California. NOM board member and famous Mormon writer, Orson Scott Card, has said, “Any government that attempts to change it [marriage] is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage…”
"Elder Packer's remarks in General Conference were not only ill-advised and contrary to fact, but were mean-spirited and will be perceived by many as bullying,” said David Melson, Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. “We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred."