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LGBT Mormons to hold conference in D.C.
Event celebrates 30th anniversary of founding

by Dave Melson

‘I believe the primary reason for Affirmation to exist is to make the statement that there are gay and lesbian Mormons and they cannot be ignored.’
— Olin Thomas,
Affirmation’s executive director
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world’s largest organization of LGBT Mormons will be meeting this October in Washington, D.C., for a three-day gathering of LGBT Mormons from around the world. Among those addressing the group are V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, Harry Knox, the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith program director, noted Mormon author Carol Lynn Pearson and participants in the Maryland court battle to legalize same-sex marriage.

Affirmation Gay and Lesbian Mormons will hold its 2007 Annual Conference over the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 5-7, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill. The conference marks 30 years since the founding of Affirmation in Salt Lake City in 1977.

“Despite 30 years of continuous existence as an organization dedicated to helping gay and lesbian Mormons, Affirmation has been largely unrecognized by its own church,” states Olin Thomas, Affirmation’s executive director. “Church leaders would rather we did not exist and are careful to avoid mentioning us by name. I believe the primary reason for Affirmation to exist is to make the statement that there are gay and lesbian Mormons and they cannot be ignored.”

Affirmation’s charter asserts that homosexuality and homosexual relationships can be consistent with and supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The annual conference is a highlight of the year for many Mormon lesbians and gays, with many calling it a life-changing experience. Speakers and workshops will focus this year on the theme of “A More Perfect Union,” whether that union is our country or the spiritual union between two people.

Entertainment will include a special guest appearance by the D.C. Cowboys Dance Company, a performance by Will Gartshore and a preview of actor Steven Fales’ upcoming production, “Mormon American Princess.”

Book signings during the conference will feature Jonathan Rauch, author of “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America,” Carol Lynn Pearson and her new book “No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones,” and activist Ken Seifert with his new novel, “The Rising Storm.” Workshops will include sessions on LGBT adoption and surrogate parenting, workplace issues, religious issues and LGBT health topics. Also participating will be representatives from Family Fellowship, an organization for Mormon parents of gays and lesbians, as well as Gamofites, a support group for gay Mormon fathers.
The conference is open to the public, but advance registration is required. Additional information is available at the organization’s website, www.affirmation.org/conference.

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