185th Annual General Conference 25

L. Tom Perry speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 185th Annual General Conference at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 4, 2015. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

PROVO -- Elder L. Tom Perry of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is getting pushback on a statement he made during his Saturday morning address of the church's 185th Annual General Conference.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, on Wednesday joined Equality Utah in voicing disappointment with the statement that intimated LGBT families and children are "counterfeit."

“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established,” Perry said. “We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring.”

Perry’s talk, “Why Marriage and Family Matters -- Everywhere in the World” shared insights into the visit he and President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, made to the Vatican in November at a colloquium on marriage and the family.

The HRC said the assertions made in Perry's talk only serve to undermine common-ground progress The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and gay rights organizations have made in the past month.

The LDS Church was an active participant in backing Utah’s new non-discrimination bill that extends employment and housing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity -- and Perry was a visual representative of that support at the Legislature.

“The comments made by Mr. Perry and others at the church’s annual general conference last weekend are disheartening and wrong, and remind us yet again that the journey to full inclusion for LGBT people -- including our families and children -- is not done,” said Jeff Krehely, vice president and chief foundation officer at HRC, in an official statement. “Mr. Perry needs to understand how damaging his words are to LGBT youth struggling for acceptance in the Church, and in their own Mormon families.”

Perry spoke of the need for and support of traditional marriage between one man and one woman, following the admonition found in the LDS Church's "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

“No one has ever come up with a more efficient way to raise the next generation than a ‘household’ of married parents with children,” Perry said. “Why should marriage and family matter -- everywhere? Public opinion polls show that marriage is still the ideal and the hope among the majority of every age group -- even among the ‘Millennial Generation’ where we hear so much about chosen singleness, personal freedom, and cohabitation instead of marriage.

“The fact is that strong majorities worldwide still want to have children and to create strong families.”

Perry was joined by several other general authorities of the church who spoke on the importance of the family, children and the Plan of Happiness, which includes having a family organization forever.

In his conference talk Perry also referred to Pope Francis’ comments at the opening of the colloquium. In his address Pope Francis made the following comment:

“We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Other conference talks on the family included “The Plan of Happiness,” by Elder Boyd K. Packer; “We’ll Ascend Together” by Sister Linda K. Burton; and “Why Marriage, Why Family” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve whose brother is openly gay, said, “A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive.

“A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.”

“As Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said this week, our families are not counterfeit -- they are real and beautiful," Krehely said. "We encourage Mr. Perry and his fellow Apostles to embrace the diversity that already exists within their own church, and reject the language and practice of intolerance.”

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801)344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!