SALT LAKE CITY (CBS Las Vegas/AP) – Mormon parents defend their gay children in a new video that confronts the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ disapproval of same-sex relationships.

The video, to be released Saturday during a national conference for gay Mormons in Washington, D.C., is part of the ongoing “It Gets Better” project, which seeks to give hope to bullied lesbian and gay teenagers.

In the video, parents recall how they struggled with their faith when their children first came out as gay. One teary mother says she learned her 19-year-old son was gay after he tried to kill himself. A father describes his initial discomfort with gay men. The message is that God wants them to love their children despite their sexual orientation.

“When he came out, I wasn’t quite ready to accept that situation,” said Charles Carver, a father from Utah, said in the video about his son.

“My job is to love. My job is to accept,” he said later.

Another father, Stephen Cohen, said, “There was once upon a time that I told a co-worker of mine that if a gay ever came on to me I would punch him. Now, you know what I would probably do? I would hug him.”

The parents say their children can’t help being gay and don’t deserve to feel ashamed.

“Nobody in their right mind would choose this, nobody that is (Latter-day Saints) would choose to be ostracized by their whole entire family,” says Andrea Carver, another mother who appears in the video with her husband. “I just pray that whoever is watching this that you will learn to love yourself and appreciate who you are as a person.”

The video follows a similar project released by gay students at Brigham Young University last month. In that video, Mormon students say they believe God loves them as they are.

Kendall Wilcox, a gay former BYU employee, produced both videos. Wilcox said he wanted to highlight the growing disparity between the church’s official ban on homosexual activity and its members’ support for friends and relatives who are gay.

“It’s sort of an invitation to Mormons everywhere to come out and say, we can’t be quiet about this anymore. We have to show support,” Wilcox said.

Gay rights activist Dan Savage, who writes a syndicated sex advice column, created the “It Gets Better” project in 2010 after a string of youth suicides.

Gay Mormon youths can face a particularly difficult road after coming out. Mormons who have same-sex physical relationships can be banned from the church, and some Mormon leaders have urged gay members to consider sexual orientation conversion. At BYU, a Mormon institution, straight couples can hug and kiss, while gay couples cannot.

Wilcox hopes the video will teach Mormon parents how to respond to their children’s same-sex orientation. It will be released during the “Circling the Wagon” conference, the first of its kind outside Utah. A similar conference was held in Salt Lake City last year.

“All of these parents are saying nothing anti-Mormon,” Wilcox said. “It’s just, you know: In the end, when I was working through all of this, the message I got from God is that you love your child unconditionally.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (4)
  1. Jim says:

    Love all, Serve all…Peace

  2. Wayne Dequer says:

    LDS parents should never have disowned their LGBT, or any of their children for anything. Parenthood is, at the least, a life-long role. It should never have been about “rejection and ejection” from the family or about social status. Mormons who have mistakenly practiced this “rejection and ejection” pattern in their family have too often done tragic damage to themselves and their children. We are taught to forgive one-and-other and leave judgement to the Lord.

    That said, it may well take parents and others some time to adjust to the surprise of behavior which is not in keeping with their standards and beliefs. We are all emotional as well as intellectual, physical, and spiritual beings and should grant each other some time to adjust. I know from experience that we can deepen our relationships and continue to embrace our children while NOT condoning some of their choices (see D&C 121: 41-44). In an extreme example Jesus rescued the woman taken in adultery and did not condemn her, while saying “go thy way and sin no more.”

    LGBT individuals should have NOT been, and are NOT, prevented from attending the many public meetings and worship services of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No one is. However, all individuals are expected to behave in a reverent manner at LDS worship services. “In your face” or disruptive behaviors are inappropriate.

    Overtly sexual behavior is always inappropriate at LDS gatherings, and most everywhere else. Yes, there is a “double standard” on most same-sex hand-holding, hugging and kissing, unless such behavior is clearly non-sexual. Mormons do have different standards on sexual morality than many others and request that our standards be respected at our meetings, schools and activities.

    Civility can go a long way in reducing avoidable conflict in this period of shifting values and behaviors in our society.

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