One Man's Story Of Redefining Family In Latter-day Saint Country
The recent news that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would now allow children of LGBTQ people to be blessed and baptised came right on time for the growing family of Kevin Kolditz.
Raised Mormon in Idaho, Kolditz saw family as central to his faith and wanted children of his own. The youngest of five, he was blessed by and baptized in the LDS church along with his four siblings.
As a gay man, though, he was unsure he would ever have his own family.
But when Kolditz, a 30-year-old retail manager in Idaho Falls, and his partner of four years learned in December they were going to have their first child, by surrogate, they couldn’t wait to share the news with the rest of their family.
They had Kolditz’s parents over for lunch in January and presented them with T-shirts they had made. On his partner’s shirt it read, “Your baby …” and Koldtiz’s shirt read, “is gonna have a baby!”
Their baby girl, due September 2, will be Kolditz’s parents’ 14th grandchild.
The Kolditz family all knew they wanted the new baby to be blessed. They understood, however, it might prove difficult because of the 2015 church policy, which required LGBT parents to seek permission from the highest level of the church for blessings and baptisms.
Kolditz could hardly believe how his fortunes had changed though, when the church announced Thursday that it would rollback the policy.
Now, children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized. Also, same-sex couples will no longer be considered apostates — those who have abandoned their faith — in terms of church discipline.
Kolditz wasn’t the only one rejoicing that his daughter could now be blessed.
“I was elated,” his mother, Rosie, said.
When Kolditz’s mother heard the news about the policy change, she reached out to her youngest right away.
“I immediately texted my son. It just brought hope,” she said.
Kolditz’s parents are serving a church history mission in southwest Utah for the next six months. By the time they return from the mission, their granddaughter will be born. The whole family plans to gather this fall when Kolditz’s father plans to bless his newest grandchild.
The old policy was hurtful, Rosie Kolditz said, adding that she’s glad to see it go.
“There were a lot of mixed feelings and a lot of people unhappy with that situation,” she said.
John Gustav-Wrathall with Affirmation, a nonprofit organization that provides community and advocacy for LGBTQ Mormons, their families and friends, agrees.
“The happiness, health and wellbeing of LGBT individuals is so dependent on this kind of family support that we’re seeing in the case of Kevin and Rosie, his mom,” said Gustav-Wrathall. “The sooner that our larger society and our religious communities understand this as well and are able to minister to people in their wholeness, recognising all these different factors, the stronger and better off we will be.”
Gustav-Wrathall said that people like the Kolditz family should be able lead productive lives consistent with their faith and heritage. Kevin Kolditz says blessing his baby is a start.
“We do believe in that higher power, and being able to … give them a blessing and to experience that is an amazing thing,” he said. “And I fully support my baby girl being able to have that.”