The following is NOT an official LDS Church announcement.
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Brothers and sisters. It’s a strange feeling to speak in this empty Conference Center today while feeling the love and warmth of millions of you watching and listening over television, satellite, internet, and radio broadcasts. I pray that we feel connected with each other as I speak today.
The Lord has a pattern of revealing his truths to his servants on Earth. I am a humble custodian of that role, and I feel the weight of it. I seek the Holy Ghost on a daily basis to know which truths the Lord wants to reveal to his people.
I speak now in matters related to our understanding of our dearly loved LGBT Latter-day Saints and the unique challenges they face.
We are in a transition period in understanding God’s will for his LGBT children. We previously understood homosexuality as a temptation or a perversion of heterosexual attraction. In generations past we assumed through repentance, an LGBT child of God could change the gender they were naturally sexually attracted to. And that God’s desire and commandment for all his children to be traditional heterosexual marriage with no exceptions. We understand now it’s a very complicated issue with no obvious answers.
We announce today a policy change related to gay marriage and the Law of Chastity. In a previous policy change published in the now publicly available Handbook of Instructions, it was clarified that gay marriage would no longer be considered apostasy. We announce today that the Law of Chastity will be clarified that sexual relations are proper only between two married people in a marriage recognized by their local government. A marriage of two gay Latter-day Saints recognized by a married couple’s local government will now be officially recognized by the Church. Abstinence of sexual relations before marriage and outside of marriage is required to obey the Lord’s Law of Chastity.
LGBT members who are in a gay marriage and are worthy by this new clarification of the Law of Chastity and worthy in all other ways may obtain a temple recommend and be qualified to serve in callings. To qualify for consideration for the office of bishop, certain stake callings, and general church callings will require all temple ordinances including eternal marriage.
I speak with humility and honesty and vulnerability here as I share with you the wrestle I personally have had and the other humble men and women I serve with in the First Presidency Quorum of 12 Apostles and general leadership councils. We have sought to know the will of the Lord on this subject for many years.
The revelation that led to this policy change was powerful and felt by all of us in those councils. Now let me clarify. This revelation has no bearing on the Lord’s definition of eternal marriage. We have received no revelation to reverse our current understanding of the doctrine of eternal families. Our understanding of eternal marriage is that God has always instructed that eternal marriage is between a man and a woman. The Proclamation on the Family sets forth the Lord’s standard. The ideal environment for a child to be raised is in an eternal family with a father and mother who are sealed for eternity and lead their family, emulating Jesus Christ and following the principles of the Gospel.
While this is the ideal, there are situations where this is not always possible. In some instances, studies show a person who self-identifies as gay can marry heterosexually and have a successful, joyful marriage. But for many LGBT Latter-day Saints this seems impossible and not advisable. What about them? Life long celibacy is another option. We do not provide specific counsel on this at this time. It us up to each LGBT Latter-day Saint to seek personal revelation on which path is best for him or her. But we now reveal the Lord has approved another path for our beloved LGBT members, which is a temporal, legally authorized gay marriage.
Our revealed understanding of the Law of Chastity has changed over time. It was once understood that only sexual relations which intended to produce offspring were considered appropriate. We now understand sexual relations to be an important and appropriate part of sharing love and intimacy within a legally authorized marriage, regardless of whether it’s expected or intended that a pregnancy immediately result or whether that marriage is a temple marriage.
Latter-day Saints are good citizens. We uphold the laws of the countries where we operate. Marriage laws of the United States and other countries where Latter-day Saints live have changed. And as this happens, God’s Church has always updated policies on temporal matters.
Some of us will receive this policy change with gladness. Some of us will receive this policy with confusion or even hard hearts. I invite all of us to bury past misunderstandings and biases on this subject and move forward together in love. I testify to you that Jesus Christ is at the head of this church and that his servants speak for him even in these latter days.
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So, is this possible?