2015 Response to the Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage in the United States
In 2015, many communities in the world faced significant challenges. Millions of Syrian refugees sought safety and security in countries around the world away from the terror of the bloody civil war raging in their homeland. Terrorist attacks resulted in the deaths of 17 people in France as part of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Chinese stock markets plunged, contributing to economic instability around the world. Organizations like the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (the governing body for soccer federations worldwide) and Volkswagen were charged with corruption that threatened their credibility. Violent military encounters like the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter plane threatened to destabilize political alliances.1 A massive earthquake in Nepal, flooding in India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malawi, and Mozambique, unprecedented heat waves in other parts of India, and more devastating droughts in Ethiopia led to thousands of deaths and millions of people being displaced from their homes.2
In addition to the upheaval caused by political, military, and natural phenomena, countries around the world were also grappling with tumultuous social and cultural issues. Chief among these was the ongoing debate regarding the definition of marriage. The conflict over this issue in the United States was particularly intense and divisive. President of the United States Barack Obama was in the middle of his second term. His shifting views on the definition of marriage reflected the trends taking place in American society. Although he may have personally favored same-sex marriage as early as 1996, his public statements through the late 1990s and 2000s affirmed the definition of marriage between a man and a woman while offering the option of same-sex legal unions for homosexual partnerships. That position changed in 2010 when President Obama became the first U.S. President to publicly state that he believed same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. His resultant public policy decisions, which he occasionally couched in the context of his Christian faith, undoubtedly reflected and influenced legal changes in the United States, and around the world.3
The Church’s 2015 Statement, a response to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, is best understood in the context of at least two decades of previous Church statements in the wake of changing definitions of and attitudes toward marriage in the United States and around the world.4 In 1989, court rulings in New York and California defined same-sex couples as families. In that same year, Denmark became the first country to legally recognize same-sex unions. Norway followed a similar course in 1993; and Sweden offered similar unions in 1994. In 1993, a Hawaii Supreme Court decision led to the state legislature passing an amendment banning same-sex marriage in their state. However, just four years later, Hawaii became the first state to offer domestic partnerships to same-sex couples. In 1995, the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and Governor Mike Leavitt of Utah signed a state Defense of Marriage Act. The next year, United States President Bill Clinton signed a federal version of a similar law. Meanwhile, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriages in 2001,5 followed by Belgium and Canada in 2003.
Rounds of litigation and legislation at the state level in the United States continued until 2003 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriages. Other states, like Nevada and New Mexico, did likewise. On October 20, 2004, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an official statement affirming “that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children” and that it, therefore, favored “measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.”6 In April 2006, the Church added its name in support of federal legislation that failed to pass the United States Senate and House of Representatives in June and July 2006, respectively.7
While court cases and constitutional amendments at the state level continued to either preserve or redefine the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman, the Church supported a coalition of religious and civic organizations in 2008 to support the passage of Proposition 8 which defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman in California.8 While Proposition 8 passed, it was overturned by the California Supreme Court in 2010. It was also in 20089 that the Church produced the document, “The Divine Institution of Marriage,”10 which outlined the Church’s stance on the vital importance of marriage, identified perceived threats to the institution of marriage, and articulated the religious, political, and social reasons for their advocacy of marriage between a man and a woman. It also urged individuals and organizations on all sides of the issue to “show respect, civility, and kindness toward others who have different points of view.” Tragically, the ensuing tension led to cases of violence against people who identified as or were perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.11 The Church issued a straightforward statement condemning such violence.12
In the early 2010s, legislative and judicial actions in various states either legalized or prohibited same-sex marriage and unions of various kinds. Most of the state constitutional amendments or other statutes defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman or banning same-sex marriage voted for by state citizens were being overturned by federal courts throughout 2013 and 2014. After the appeal of a December 2013 federal court ruling, Utah’s ban was found unconstitutional in June 2014. In the midst of these various court cases, the Church issued two significant statements that became significant predecessors for the 2015 Statement. In January 2014, the First Presidency sent a letter to local leaders which they were instructed to share with members of their congregations.13 Another letter was sent to Church leaders in March 2014, portions of which later became the text for the Church’s current Gospel Topics page on “Same-Sex Marriage.”14 Much of the language in these 2014 statements became the core text for the 2015 Statement. By late 2014, it was obvious that the United States federal government had to make a decision that would clarify the confusion within the various states, because “over 70% of states and the District of Columbia already recognized same-sex marriage, and only 13 states had bans.”15 In January 2015, the United States Supreme Court agreed to consolidate several cases from lower courts of appeals16 into the case known as Obergefell v. Hodges, which it began hearing in April.17 By this time, nineteen other countries around the world had already legalized same-sex marriage.18 On June 26, 2015, the Court decided 5-4 in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, thus declaring unconstitutional any remaining state bans and legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.19
The Church issued a brief statement on the day the decision was announced, acknowledging the legal status of same-sex marriages while still maintaining that “The Court's decision does not alter the Lord’s doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God.”20 Three days later, the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles issued the 2015 Statement, “Response to the Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage in the United States.” The First Presidency at the time consisted of President Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring (First Counselor), and Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Second Counselor). The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles included Boyd K. Packer (President), Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Richard G. Scott,21 Robert D. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and Neil L. Andersen. Elder L. Tom Perry had passed away on May 30, 2015, less than a month before the 2015 Statement was issued. In a devotional address at BYU-Hawaii just a few months after this Statement was issued, President Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, explained the general principles and prayerful counseling process followed by the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles in preparing and issuing statements on challenging questions of all kinds:
We sustain 15 men who are ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. When a thorny problem arises—and they only seem to get thornier each day—these 15 men wrestle with the issue, trying to see all the ramifications of various courses of action, and they diligently seek to hear the voice of the Lord. After fasting, praying, studying, pondering, and counseling with my Brethren about weighty matters, it is not unusual for me to be awakened during the night with further impressions about issues with which we are concerned. And my Brethren have the same experience.
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counsel together and share all the Lord has directed us to understand and to feel individually and collectively. And then we watch the Lord move upon the President of the Church to proclaim the Lord’s will.
This prophetic process was followed in 2012 with the change in minimum age for missionaries and again with the recent additions to the Church’s handbook, consequent to the legalization of same-sex marriage in some countries. Filled with compassion for all, and especially for the children, we wrestled at length to understand the Lord’s will in this matter. Ever mindful of God’s plan of salvation and of His hope for eternal life for each of His children, we considered countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios that could arise. We met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer and sought further direction and inspiration. And then, when the Lord inspired His prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to declare the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord, each of us during that sacred moment felt a spiritual confirmation. It was our privilege as Apostles to sustain what had been revealed to President Monson.22
President Nelson then promised those in attendance that they could receive of the same spirit of revelation that had guided the Apostles and Prophets in receiving and declaring the mind and will and voice of the Lord on such difficult issues.
The packet sent to all general and local authorities of the Church, which includes the 2015 Statement, consists of three parts. The first part is a cover letter from the First Presidency stating the reason for the statement and instructing local bishops and branch presidents to read the entire Statement to all adults, young men, and young women in their local units on either July 5 or July 12.
The main part is the two-and-a-half page Statement from the “Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” While recognizing that “legal proceedings and legislative actions in a number of countries...have given civil recognition to same-sex marriage relationships,” the 2015 Statement “restates and reaffirms the doctrinal foundation of Church teachings on morality, marriage, and the family” and reminded Church members that teachings on marriage and family would be best understood “in the context of the Plan of Salvation and our Heavenly Father’s purposes” (Statement, p. 1). The two presiding quorums of the Church declared, “Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society” and, “A family built on marriage between a man and a woman is the best setting for God’s plan of happiness to thrive” (Ibid.). Regarding sexual morality, they clearly asserted, “Sexual relations outside of [marriage between a man and a woman] are contrary to the laws of God pertaining to morality” (Statement, p. 2). Furthermore, they held to their previously stated position that “Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established” (Ibid.).
Regarding Church policy, the 2015 Statement directs that “Church officers will not employ their ecclesiastical authority to perform marriages between two people of the same sex” (Statement, p. 2) nor would Church-owned facilities by available for same-sex marriage ceremonies or celebrations. However, “all visitors are welcome to our chapels and premises so long as they respect our standards of conduct while there” (Ibid.).
Reminding all members of the Church to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Church members were instructed “to love and treat all people with kindness and civility--even when we disagree” and that “those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully” (Statement, p. 2). Church members were also encouraged to “teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to illuminate the great blessings that flow from heeding God’s commandments” (Statement, p. 3). The prophets, seers, and revelators also invited Church members to “pray that people everywhere will have their hearts softened to the truths God established in the beginning, and that wisdom will be granted to those who are called upon to decide issues critical to society’s future” (Ibid.).
The final part of the packet was another two and a half pages entitled, “Background Material for Bishops and Branch Presidents on the U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage.” The brief introduction in this part endorsed the main Statement as a reaffirmation of “the divinely-revealed reasons and proper doctrinal context for the Church’s unequivocal position regarding matters of morality, chastity, marriage, and the family.” After explaining that members of the Church are often required to live God’s laws even when civil laws do not coincide with them, the introduction in this final section of the packet reminded members of the Church that “God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society.” The rest of this final part of the packet contains brief responses to four important questions:
- What is the Church’s position on homosexual relations?
- Does the authorization of same-sex marriage affect my right to religious freedom?
- How do I respond respectfully to those who consider the Church’s position on this matter unchristian?
- What if I have reservations of my own regarding the Church’s position on this subject?
The basic principles taught in response to these questions can help members of the Church as they navigate the tensions between discipleship and citizenship and prayerfully seek inspired direction from their Heavenly Father in some of their most personal and intimate relationships.
While some people may disagree with the 2015 Statement of the Lord’s prophets and apostles, it represents a culminating bulwark of consistent teachings on sexuality, marriage, and family during a period of more than twenty tumultuous years. This Statement solidifies the Church’s long standing commitment to the Lord’s doctrine 23 on marriage between a man and a woman as central to human happiness, peace, and progression in this life and in the eternities.
- “Major global events that shook 2015,” CNBC, December 31, 2015, https://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/31/major-global-events-that-shook-2015.html , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See Huber, Chris (2015), “6 of the worst disasters in 2015,” World Vision, https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/worst-disasters-2015 , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See Steinmetz, Katy, “See Obama's 20-Year Evolution on LGBT Rights,” Time, April 10, 2015, https://time.com/3816952/obama-gay-lesbian-transgender-lgbt-rights/ , accessed July 30, 2021.
- Information for governmental actions in this and subsequent paragraphs are taken from the following sources: “A Timeline of the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S.” (2021), Georgetown Law Library, https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/c.php?g=592919&p=4182201 , accessed July 30, 2021; and “Timeline of same-sex marriage,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_same-sex_marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See Crary, David and Corder, Mike, “The Dutch went first in 2001; who has same-sex marriage now?” AP News, April 1, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/europe-africa-netherlands-job-cohen-western-europe-e08b053af367028737c9c41c492cc568 , accessed July 30, 2021.
- “First Presidency Statement on Same-Gender Marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presidency-statement-on-same-gender-marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See “First Presidency urges support of marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, March 6, 2008, https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2006-06-03/first-presidency-urges-support-of-marriage-86182 , accessed July 30, 2021; see also “S.J.Res. 1 (109th): Marriage Protection Amendment,” Govtrack, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/sjres1 accessed July 30, 2021; and “Federal Marriage Amendment,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Marriage_Amendment , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See “California and Same-Sex Marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, June 30, 2008, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- “The divine institution of marriage,” Deseret News, August 15, 2008, https://www.deseret.com/2008/8/15/20379638/the-divine-institution-of-marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- “The Divine Institution of Marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/the-divine-institution-of-marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2010,” https://rhyclearinghouse.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/docs/20274-Hate_Violence.pdf , accessed August 11, 2021.
- See “Church Responds to HRC Petition: Statement on Same-Sex Attraction,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, October 12, 2010, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-mormon-responds-to-human-rights-campaign-petition-same-sex-attraction , accessed August 11, 2021.
- See “Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, January 10, 2014, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage , accessed August 11, 2021.
- See “Same-Sex Marriage,” Gospel Topics, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/same-sex-marriage?lang=eng , accessed August 11, 2021. Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, referred to this letter as a “First Presidency letter, Mar. 6, 2014” in footnote 7 of his April 2014 General Conference message entitled, “Spiritual Whirlwinds,” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2014/04/spiritual-whirlwinds?lang=eng , accessed August 11, 2021.
- “Obergefell v. Hodges,” Georgetown Law Library, https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/c.php?g=592919&p=4182205 , accessed July 30, 2021.
- The Church joined the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; National Association of Evangelicals; The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in filing an amicus brief for a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in February 2014; see https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/multimedia/file/amicus-brief.pdf- , accessed July 30, 2021.
- With the same group as in footnote 12, the Church filed another amicus brief with the Supreme Court related to the Obergefell v. Hodges case; see https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/multimedia/file/read-the-amicus-brief-pdf , accessed July 30, 2021.
- See “Same Sex Marriage Around the World” (2019), Pew Research Center, https://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/gay-marriage-around-the-world/#top , accessed July 30, 2021.
- To read the full Supreme Court decision, see Supreme Court of the United States, “OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.” June 26, 2015, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf , accessed July 30, 2021. This decision includes several dissenting opinions written by Chief Justice Roberts, with Justices Scalia and Thomas joining; Justice Scalia with Justice Thomas joining; Justice Thomas with Justice Scalia joining; and Justice Alito with Justices Scalia and Thomas joining.
- Official Statement, “Supreme Court Decision Will Not Alter Doctrine on Marriage,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, June 26, 2015, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/supreme-court-decision-will-not-alter-doctrine-on-marriage , accessed July 30, 2021.
- While Elder Scott was unable to fully participate in Quorum meetings by May 8, 2015 (see “Church Issues Update on Health of Leaders,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, May 8, 2015, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/elder-l-tom-perry-elder-richard-g-scott-health , accessed August 11, 2021), he was certainly an active participant in the preparation of many of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve statements before that date, which contributed largely to the language of the 2015 Statement. Elder Scott passed away on September 22, 2015.
- “Becoming True Millennials,” An Evening with President Russell M. Nelson, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 10, 2016, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2016/01/becoming-true-millennials?lang=eng , accessed July 30, 2021.
- Revelations given since the beginning of the Restoration state the importance of marriage between a man and a woman in Heavenly Father’s plan for His children--e.g. Moses 2:26-28; Abraham 4:26-28; 4 Nephi 1:11; Doctrine and Covenants 42:22-26; 49:15-17; 131:1-4; 132:12-24.
On July 2, 2015, the news outlet Reuters reported on the issuance of the Church’s 2015 Statement:
While respecting those who think differently, it said, the LDS Church would continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of its doctrine and practice.
The faith’s top leaders have followed up on that with a letter to be read to rank-and-file Mormons at Church meetings across the United States and Canada beginning this Sunday.
“Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children,” reads the letter by the Church’s highest governing boards, the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
In an August 2015 Ensign article, titled “The Proclamation on the Family: Transcending the Cultural Confusion,” Bruce C. Hafen discussed the importance that traditional marriages and families hold to society’s interests. While he does not specifically cite the 2015 Statement, his remarks seemed to be influenced by it:
When people see man-woman marriage as just a matter of personal preference rather than as society’s key social institution, it’s little wonder that many would now say of same-sex marriage that individuals should be free to marry as they choose. That’s what can happen when we lose track of society’s interest in marriage and children. Clearly God loves all of His children and expects us to treat one another with compassion and tolerance—regardless of private conduct we may or may not understand. But it is a very different matter to endorse or promote that conduct by altering a legal concept—marriage—whose historic purpose was to promote society’s interest in having biological parents rear their own children in stable homes.Read more: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2015/08/the-proclamation-on-the-family-transcending-the-cultural-confusion?lang=eng
On October 20, 2015 Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivered an address titled “The Boundary Between Church and State” to the Second Annual Sacramento Court/Clergy Conference. His remarks received national news coverage for being “a significant development;” however, much of his position appears to be based in sentiments expressed in the 2015 Statement.Read More:
- “Elder Oaks Transcript at Court and Clergy Conference,”
- R. Scott Lloyd, “Religion and government should be ‘mutually supportive’ apostle says in speech to lawyers, judges, clerics,” The Church News, 20 Oct 2015,
- “Excerpts from The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Friend February 2010,
- Tad Walch, “Elder Oaks makes national news with statement on gay rights, religious liberty,” Deseret News, Oct 21, 2015,
In early November 2015 the Church updated Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops (2010 [now obsolete]) in response to questions regarding Church policies governing same-gender marriages. These policies addressed both when membership councils were to be called and whether ordinances could be performed for children of parents in same-gender marriages. Due to misunderstandings published about the policy change, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, responded to these changes in a video interview. Although he does not cite the 2015 Statement directly, his words are based in its teachings:
The new policy is “really two sides of the same coin,” Elder Christofferson said. “On the one hand, we have worked with others and will continue to do so to protect rights and employment and housing and that sort of thing for all. And on the other hand, there needs to be respect and acknowledgment of the rights of the religious community to set its standards and to live according to them and to teach and abide by its own doctrines, such as regards marriage in this case.”Read more: https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/2015-11-12/elder-christofferson-provides-context-on-handbook-changes-affecting-same-sex-marriages-29858
For more information regarding the Church’s policies and teachings regarding same-gender marriage in the months immediately following the 2015 Statement see the following articles from Church and news sources (many of which were either influenced by, or made reference to, the 2015 Statement):
- Tom Stringham, “Same Sex Marriage and the Mormon Benedict Option,” First Things, November 10, 2015,
- “First Presidency Clarifies Church Handbook Changes,” November 13, 2015,
- Michael Otterson, “Understanding the Handbook,” Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom, November 13, 2015,
- Sarah Jane Weaver, “Treat Children with ‘Utmost Respect and Love,’ Writes the First Presidency in Letter regarding Same-Sex Marriage Policy,” Church News, updated November 23, 2015,
- Rod Dreher, “Mormons & Gay Marriage,” The American Conservative, November 30, 2015,
- Merina Smith, “Why There’s No Such Thing As A Same-Sex Mormon Family,” The Federalist, December 8, 2015,
While it is not a direct quotation from the 2015 Statement, Elder Dale G. Renlund, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, includes sentiments which are rooted in the teachings of the Statement in his April 2017 General Conference talk “Our Good Shepherd”:
Everyone, including people of religion, has the right to express his or her opinions in the public square. But no one has a license to be hateful toward others as those opinions are expressed.Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2017/04/our-good-shepherd?lang=eng
“After an extended period of counseling” among members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Church policies relevant to same-gender marriage were again updated in April 2019. In a Church News article describing these adjustments Sarah Jane Weaver included a quotation from the 2015 Statement:
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same‐sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. Indeed, the Church has advocated for rights of same‐sex couples in matters of hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment, and probate, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/policy-changes-announced-for-members-in-gay-marriages-children-of-lgbt-parents?lang=eng
President Russell M. Nelson spoke about the Church’s policies related to same-gender marriages in his September 17, 2019, BYU Devotional “The Love and Laws of God.” While he does not cite it directly, his remarks give important context to all of the Church’s statements related to LGBTQ topics including the 2015 Statement:
Thus our commission as apostles is to teach nothing but truth. That commission does not give us the authority to modify divine law. For example, let’s consider the definition of marriage. In recent years, many countries, including the United States, have legalized same-sex marriage. As members of the Church, we respect the laws of the land and abide by them, including civil marriage. The truth is, however, that in the beginning—in the beginning—marriage was ordained by God! And to this day it is defined by Him as being between a man and a woman. God has not changed His definition of marriage… Though we of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cannot change the laws of God, we do have the charge “to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations.” Thus we can adjust policy when the Lord directs us to do so… Consider the policy announced in November 2015 related to the advisability of baptism for the children of LGBT parents. Our concern then, and one we discussed at length and prayed about fervently over a long period of time, was to find a way to reduce friction between gay or lesbian parents and their children...The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have continued to seek the Lord’s guidance and to plead with Him in behalf of His children who were affected by the 2015 policy. We knew that this policy created concern and confusion for some and heartache for others. That grieved us. Whenever the sons and daughters of God weep—for whatever reasons—we weep. So our supplications to the Lord continued… As a result of our continued supplication, we recently felt directed to adjust the policy such that the baptism of children of LGBT parents may be authorized by bishops without First Presidency approval, if the custodial parents request the baptism and understand that a child will be taught about sacred covenants to be made at baptism.https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/russell-m-nelson/love-laws-god/
In his October 2019 General Conference address “Two Great Commandments,” President Dallin H. Oaks, quoted the 2015 statement:
We seek to persuade our members that those who follow lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender teachings and actions should be treated with the love our Savior commands us to show toward all our neighbors. Thus, when same-sex marriage was declared legal in the United States, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve declared: “The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully.”Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/35oaks?lang=eng
Church policy on same-sex marriage (as outlined by section 38.6.16 of General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ) appears to be rooted in the doctrines and teachings of the June 2015 Statement:
As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Church also affirms that God’s law defines marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman. Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same sex, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family.Read More: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/general-handbook/38-church-policies-and-guidelines?lang=eng#title_number110
[Featured version] The original PDF version of the 2015 Statement is available on the Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/multimedia/file/1st-Pres.-Letter-SSM.pdf
The Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom issued this news release which included the 2015 Statement on June 30, 2015: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/top-church-leaders-counsel-members-after-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-decision
Part of the 2015 Statement was reprinted in the Standard Examiner in Ogden, Utah, on June 30, 2015: https://www.standard.net/lifestyle/faith/lds-church-authorities-issue-letter-about-gay-marriage/article_87dbb12c-3bd8-55b2-8a22-a10c1fb99720.html
The 2015 Statement was reprinted on the internet news outlet, “Gephardt Daily,” on July 1, 2015: https://gephardtdaily.com/uncategorized/breaking-news-lds-church-leaders-issue-new-edict-on-gay-marriage/