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Mormon Family Values | The Nation

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Mormon Family Values

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David Eccles Hardy and Carlie Judd Hardy are Mormon Royalty, an LDS terme d'art indicating that they descend from important historical and modern lineage--Carlie's great-grandfather, Heber J. Grant, served as prophet and president of the church during the early twentieth century, and both David and Carlie have ancestors who were original followers of LDS founder Joseph Smith.

Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

About the Author

Katherine Rosman
Katherine Rosman is a journalist living in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, W and Brill's...

The Hardys married in 1975, just after David completed his missionary service. He earned a law degree and began a steady rise in the corporate world of Utah's burgeoning tech sector. Carlie oversaw their children's immersion in the church--before-school Scripture study, Eagle Scouts, religious classes, community service, all in addition to the regular Sunday services. As with all faithful LDS members, they gave 10 percent of the family's pretax income to the church. Mormon perfection.

Judd, the third child and oldest son, was a slight, fair-haired boy with noteworthy devotion to the church and its gospel. But he was different from other boys in his neighborhood. "Despite my hours coaching him, he was utterly uninterested in sports and 'boy games,'" his dad remembers. Instead, Judd liked to play with his sisters' dolls and to perform songs. David and Carlie secretly worried about their son's effeminate mannerisms but tried to ignore their concerns. The idea of having a son with "same-sex attraction" was too shameful to consider. "A Mormon mother is told to have kids and stay home," Carlie explains. "There is nothing left for a mother's self-esteem. You are judged on how your family turns out."

So when Judd came out to David in Austria in 1995, and David shared the information with Carlie, they did what they had always done--they turned to the church. They enrolled Judd in a stint of reparative therapy (which purports to counsel people in "overcoming" their homosexuality). They remained stoic as they read the research attributing homosexual tendencies to an overbearing mother and emotionally unavailable father.

One of the pamphlets they found advises church leaders on how to act if a member confesses same-sex attraction. It reads, "God has promised to help those who earnestly strive to live his commandments," and it says members should be reassured that for those who repent enough, "heterosexual feelings emerge." This pamphlet is only available to leadership. An average member receives more explicit instruction, like that in the text of a speech given by a former president and prophet: "Satan tells his victims that it is a natural way of life; that it is normal; that perverts are a different kind of people born 'that way' and that they cannot change. This is a base lie.... it were better that such a man were never born." The Hardys were most disturbed by the writings of Boyd K. Packer, an apostle second in line for the church presidency whose public words constitute doctrine. In one oft-cited speech, Packer endorsed violence as a response to a perceived homosexual advance. "You must protect yourself," he preached.

The more Carlie and David turned to the church for help, the more its practices frustrated them. They were outraged to learn that church funds were being diverted to support movements in Hawaii and Alaska aimed at keeping same-sex marriage illegal. Meanwhile, their young son was asking his parents to disconnect their cable and Internet service so that he would not be tempted by any alluring images of men. He was fasting and praying so that he could live within the boundaries of the church, yet doctrine labeled him a servant of the Devil.

In early 1999 David was reaching his breaking point and asked to be released early from his role as bishop. Soon after, Carlie attended an annual interview with the family's local ecclesiastical authority, D. Miles Holman. (Citing clerical requirements of confidentiality, Holman declined to comment.) Carlie told Holman that total loyalty to the church's principles was increasingly difficult for her and that she was uncertain she could encourage a lifetime of celibacy for Judd. "I don't think it would be healthy for my son for me to suggest that he never have any intimacy," she recalls telling him. According to Carlie, Holman told her there was only one solution: Judd had to remain celibate for his life, and she and David should keep his "problem" a secret. "He said, 'Hey, isn't this homosexual issue easy?'"

Carlie walked out to her car and turned on her mobile phone. It rang immediately. One of her children said, "Mom, where have you been? We just had to take Judd to the hospital." After sitting through an LDS lesson on Sodom and Gomorrah, Judd had gone home and slashed his wrists.

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