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LDS Church Adjusts Policy On LGBT Couples

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Children of gay couples can now be blessed and baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Daysha Eaton of our member station KUER reports on that policy change.

DAYSHA EATON, BYLINE: Troy Williams is the executive director of civil rights group Equality Utah. He's gay, and he's left the LDS church. He and others were celebrating a victory this week that gave LGBTQ people the same protections as others in new legislation.

TROY WILLIAMS: The governor of Utah signed an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime statute that was voted on almost - with a overwhelming majority of this conservative legislature.

EATON: They didn't expect to be celebrating again just a few days later. The church had reversed course on a controversial 2015 policy concerning same-sex couples. He says now it's time to re-evaluate.

WILLIAMS: I hope that this policy change will help families come back together.

EATON: Under the new policy, the LDS church now says LGBT members may baptize their children, and nonmembers can have their kids blessed. In addition, same-sex marriage will no longer be considered apostasy and abandonment of faith, just a sin. But Jordan Sgro, who also grew up LDS, wishes the church would apologize for excluding LGBTQ members.

JORDAN SGRO: I mean, we've seen countless lives lost, countless families fall apart into pieces because of this policy.

EATON: Still, Sgro, who works for Encircle, a group that provides counseling for LGBTQ youth in Utah, says the changes make her hopeful.

SGRO: My wife called me earlier. And she said, this doesn't really impact us as a couple. But because we're raising our children in Utah, maybe it will be easier for our kids when they're growing up with two moms in a very conservative area because other kids won't call them apostate.

EATON: The church says the changes don't affect doctrine. In an online statement, it said it hopes the switch will help members to, quote, "show more understanding, compassion and love" and to increase respect. For NPR News, I'm Daysha Eaton in Salt Lake City.

(SOUNDBITE OF BONOBO'S "BLACK SANDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.