Mormon church expands on stance toward children of gay marriage

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Mormon Church Clarifies Same-Sex Policy Amid Backlash

Mormon church leaders elaborated on Friday about a recent policy on children in same sex marriages that drew fire from rights activists and prompted hundreds of members to say they planned to resign.

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The provisions, approved last week by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, added same-sex marriage to the list of acts considered to be a renunciation of the Utah-based faith and subject to discipline, including excommunication.

It also prohibits natural or adopted children of gay married couples from being baptized asMormons until they turn 18, leave their parents' home and personally disavow same-sex marriage or cohabitation.

See the history of the Mormon church:

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Mormon church expands on stance toward children of gay marriage
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 6: This is the World Headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on November 6, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. On November 5 the Mormon Church changed its policy toward gay and lesbian married couples and their children. The new church policy would excommunicate gay or lesbians that choose to get married and disallow their children to be blessed or baptized into the Mormon Church. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
FILE - In this June 2, 2013, file photo, members of the Mormons Building Bridges march during the Utah Gay Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. Gay and lesbian Mormons and their supporters are reeling over a rule change by church officials that says members in same-sex marriages can be kicked out, and bars their children from being baptized unless they disavow same-sex relationships. The changes in the church handbook were sent out Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, to local church leaders around the world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement Friday the revisions reiterate church opposition to gay marriage. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
A picture of a smooth, brown, egg-sized rock is shown in the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon following a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library, in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church for the first time is publishing photos of a small sacred stone it believes founder Joseph Smith used to help translate the story that became the basis of the religion. The Mormon church is taking another step in its push to be more transparent, and is releasing more historical documents that shed light on how Joseph Smith formed the religion. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Pictures of a smooth, brown, egg-sized rock are shown in the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon following a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library, in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church for the first time is publishing photos of a small sacred stone it believes founder Joseph Smith used to help translate the story that became the basis of the religion. The Mormon church is taking another step in its push to be more transparent, and is releasing more historical documents that shed light on how Joseph Smith formed the religion. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People look at pictures of the smooth, brown, egg-sized rock shown in the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon following a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library, in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church for the first time is publishing photos of a small sacred stone it believes founder Joseph Smith used to help translate the story that became the basis of the religion. The Mormon church is taking another step in its push to be more transparent, and is releasing more historical documents that shed light on how Joseph Smith formed the religion. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), Mormon Prophet And Founder Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. (Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: This is a picture of the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple during the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2003: Portraits of Joseph Smith (Sharon, 1805 - Carthage, 1844) and his brother Hyrum Smith (Tunbridge, 1800 - Carthage, 1844), American religious leaders and founders of the Mormon religion. Engraving. Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (National Library) (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: This is a picture of a statue of the Mormon prophet, Brigham Young with the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple in the background during the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Brigham Young, American Mormon leader, 1877. The second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, Brigham Young (1801-1877) led his followers on an 1100 mile trek from Illinois to Utah in 1846-1847 after the church's founder, Joseph Smith, was murdered by a mob. On arriving at their destination, Young and the Mormons founded Salt Lake City. In keeping with the Mormons' practice of polygamy, Young took more than 20 wives and fathered 47 children. He died of cholera morbus in 1877. (Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: This is a picture of the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple during the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Portrait of Joseph Fielding Smith (1838 - 1918), sixth president of the Mormon Church and nephew of founder Joseph Smith, early 20th Century. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
circa 1840: A lithograph of Joseph Smith (1805-1844), Mormon prophet. Original Artist: By F D Richards. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Illustration of Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of Mormon Church, preaching to a group of Indians. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: Spires from the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple rise to the sky during the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: Spires from the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple rise to the sky during the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: A group of children pose for a picture in front of the historic Salt Lake Mormon Temple between sessions of the184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world gather in Salt lake for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1930: Postcard and Portrait of Brigham Young. ca. 1916, BORN JUNE 1, 1801, WHITINGHAM, VT. DIED AUG. 29, 1877. SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH. BRIGHAM YOUNG. Brigham Young was born June 1, 1801 in Whitingham, Vt. He succeeded Joseph Smith as President of the Mormon Church when the latter was martyred in Carthage, Ill. in 1844. He led a small band of pioneers into the great unknown West in 1847 and established Salt Lake City where he proved himself to be the greatest colonizer of his time. He died in Salt Lake City, Aug. 29, 1877. (Photo by LCDM Universal History Archive/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and congregation sing during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world are gathered in Salt Lake City for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world are gathered in Salt Lake City for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world are gathered in Salt Lake City for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and congregation sing during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on October 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faithful Mormons from around the world are gathered in Salt Lake City for the two day conference. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: Jason Packham looks at the first, 1832 journal from Mormon Church founder, Joseph Smith on display at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Mormon Church Salt Lake Temple. Photo from Garden Cafe above. Forty years to build.Not open to public.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: The dedication prayer for the Mormon Church's first temple in Kirtland, Ohio, is displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: An 1833, first edition of the Mormon scripture, 'Book of Commandments,' which later became the 'Doctrine and Covenants', and were revelations from Mormon Church Founder Joseph Smith, is displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: Several rare documents are displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: A page from the1842 Book of Abraham, that the Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith claimed was a translation from Egyptian Papyri and a history of Abraham, is displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: A signature of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith on a letter he wrote when he was imprisoned in 'Liberty Jail,' which later became part of the Doctrine and Covenants, Mormon Scripture, is displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: An 1830, first edition of the Mormon scripture, 'Book of Mormon' and other rare Mormon scriptures are displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 8: An 1835, first edition of 'A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Latter Day Saints' is displayed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church History Library, part of the 'Foundation of Faith' exhibit on September 8, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the documents are on pubic display together for the first time. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
FILE- In this Sept. 3, 2014, file photo, shows flowers blooming in front of the Salt Lake Temple. in Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. Mormon church founder Joseph Smith had an underage bride and was married to other men’s wives during the early days of the faith when polygamy was practiced, a new church essay reveals. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says most of Smith’s wives were between 20 and 40 years old but that one was just 14. While part of the church's early days, polygamy has been banned in the faith since 1890. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
A women stands between anti-Mormon protesters and conference attendees as people arrive for the afternoon session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2013, file photo, the angel Moroni statue, silhouetted against a cloud-covered sky, sits atop the Salt Lake Temple, in Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. While Kate Kelly’s former church leaders meet in Virginia on Sunday, June 22, 2014, to decide if she’ll be ousted from her religion, the founder of a prominent Mormon women's group will hold a vigil in Salt Lake City along with hundreds of her supporters. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
FILE - In this April 5, 2014, file photo, Kate Kelly, left, leads a Mormon's women group pushing the church to allow women in the priesthood march to Temple Square during the two-day Mormon church conference, in Salt lake City. While Kelly's former church leaders meet in Virginia on Sunday night, June 22, to decide if she'll be excommunicated, Kelly, the founder of a prominent Mormon women's group will hold a vigil in Salt Lake City along with hundreds of her supporters. As the leader of group Ordain Women, Kelly is accused of apostasy, which is repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
The afternoon session of the two-day Mormon church conference begins Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. In addition to those filling up the 21,000-seat conference center during the sessions, thousands more listen or watch around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The afternoon session of the two-day Mormon church conference begins Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The Salt Lake Temple is shown during opening session of the two-day Mormon church conference Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Salt Lake City. More than 100,000 Latter-day Saints are expected in Salt Lake City this weekend for the church's biannual general conference. Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give carefully crafted speeches aimed at providing members with guidance and inspiration in five sessions that span Saturday and Sunday. They also make announcements about church statistics, new temples or initiatives. In addition to those filling up the 21,000-seat conference center during the sessions, thousands more listen or watch around the world in 95 languages on television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
FILE - This Jan. 22, 2013, file photo, shows the Salt Lake Temple, at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's decision opening the door for same sex marriage in California, saying it highlights troubling questions about the country's democratic and judicial systems. "Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens," said leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a statement sent out Wednesday morning. "In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved." (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
People gather inside the Conference Center during the 183rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church is planning to build two new temples in Rio de Janeiro and Cedar City, Utah. The faith's president, Thomas S. Monson, announced the new temples on Saturday during the 183rd semi-annual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than 100,000 members of the church have gathered in Salt Lake City to hear words of inspiration and guidance for daily living from the faith's senior leaders. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
FILE PHOTO / BEST BLOOMBERG PHOTOS FOR 2011: The spire of the Mormon Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is seen in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, told the Senate Finance Committee this week he opposes limiting tax deductions for charitable contributions to churches. 'Private educational institutions, hospitals, social welfare agencies and innumerable other organizations' would be impacted according to Oaks. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The spire of the Mormon Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is seen in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, told the Senate Finance Committee this week he opposes limiting tax deductions for charitable contributions to churches. 'Private educational institutions, hospitals, social welfare agencies and innumerable other organizations' would be impacted according to Oaks. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Mormon Salt Lake Temple stands during the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A statue of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, stands by the Mormon Salt Lake Temple during the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Director Mack Wilberg conducts the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as they sing at the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees participate in the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees participate in the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Director Mack Wilberg conducts the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as they sing at the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Temple Square, the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a central sight in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Josh Noel/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
People walk past the Mormon Salt Lake Temple during the first session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011. Mormons from around the world have gathered to listen to church leaders during the two-day conference. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SALT LAKE CITY - APRIL 4: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints sings during the 179th annual general conference of the church April 4, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. More then a 100,000 mormon faithful will attend the conference over the weekend. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
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In a statement, the church's governing First Presidency said on Friday that they had been obligated to act for the welfare of both adults and children in setting out the new policy.

"The provisions ... that apply only to those children whose primary residence is with a couple living in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship," the three-member board said in a statement.

"When a child living with such a same-gender couple has already been baptized and is actively participating in the Church, ... (the provisions) do not require that his or her membership activities of priesthood privileges be curtailed or that further ordinances be withheld," the statement said.

Decisions concerned such children, it added, should be made by local church leaders "with their prime consideration being the preparation and best interests of the child."

Same-Sex Marriage Legality by State Before the Ruling | FindTheBest

It said all children should be treated with the utmost respect and love, that they are welcome to attend church meetings and take part in church activities, and may receive priesthood blessings of healing and spiritual guidance.

The First Presidency comprises church President Thomas S. Monson and two male counselors.

The Mormon church this year announced support for U.S. laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing and employment. But its leaders have said sex should only happen between a wedded couple, and that they cannot sanction same-sex marriage.

Hundreds of demonstrators plan to gather on Saturday at a park across the street from the faith's headquarters complex in Salt Lake City, before mailing letters stating that they resign from the church, organizers of the protest say.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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