SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - It was a meeting set to bring two sides together on a very divisive issue within the LDS community: gays in the church.
The church asked to delay the meeting, but members of the group "Affirmation" decided to go ahead anyway, saying if they can't talk to church leaders face-to-face they will talk to them through the media.
Gay mormons are talking, and are anxious to be heard and understood. The group decided to use Monday's press conference as a dress rehearsal for the real meeting yet to be announced. The problem is that meeting may never take place now.
Cameras at the ready, the presentation went on as planned as if LDS leaders are listening.
The message from Affirmation, a group of gay and lesbian mormons, is strong and to the point.
“This issue is breaking up families. The church's teachings are breaking up families,” says Affirmation member George Cole.
The group wants acceptance in the church and better education for local leaders.
They claim many gay Mormons are so conflicted they feel suicide is their only option. They also say many LDS teens are now homeless; kicked out of their home because they are gay.
The room was full of optimism from men and women who believe in the LDS church, and want to be a part of it.
“I’m hoping that eventually the church will get to the point where we can attend church, where we can actively serve and not be third class citizens,” says Affirmation member Brian Benington.
Benington and his partner Duane Jennings have been through a lot to be together. They have mixed feelings, but remain hopeful that the church will eventually hear their story.
“Frustrated and optimistic, frustrated because of the history, optimistic because the world is changing,” says Jennings.
But that open dialogue Affirmation members were hoping for may be in jeopardy now. The church released this statement this afternoon after their press conference:
"It has always been the intent of the church to engage in an open and honest discussion with Affirmation leaders and listen to their concerns. When the church was originally approached by Affirmation, church officials offered a much earlier meeting date. The meeting was put on hold until August at Affirmation's request. The church asked for the same courtesy as it hires a new director of family services, a position crucial to this conversation. The issues surrounding same gender attraction deserve careful attention not public posturing. It appears from Affirmation's actions today that it has opted for a public rather than a private exchange."
Affirmation was questioned about this press conference on Monday, and its leaders said they didn't want to wait until next year.