FamilySearch genealogical service begins accepting same-sex families, but LDS church doctrine unchanged

ST. GEORGE — In order to maintain the accuracy of its genealogical database, FamilySearch, the online genealogical repository of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now provides the ability for users to document same-sex marriages and same-sex adoptions.

Visitors to the new St. George FamilySearch Center are given a tour of the facility and shown the interactive features of the new building, St. George, Utah, June 22, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“FamilySearch seeks to digitally preserve and provide access to genealogical and historical records, and this is part of its efforts to accurately document the human family,” the LDS church stated as a part of the FamilySearch announcement Tuesday.

The church previously announced in June 2018 that FamilySearch would begin to accept same-sex couples sometime in the coming year.

The news was accompanied by a short Q-and-A list posted on the church’s online newsroom.

While FamilySearch users can now record same-sex marriages and adoptions to the website’s Family Tree system, it does not usher in a doctrinal change for the church, according to the Q-and-A.

Records on FamilySearch are used by Latter-day Saints to perform proxy baptisms and marriages in their many temples; however, the marriages of same-sex couples remain excluded from the practice per LDS doctrine.

“Consistent with the Church’s doctrine, same-sex couples are not sealed to each other, even if they have been legally married,” the church stated in the Q-and-A.

The LDS church teaches that families can be sealed – or bound together – for all eternity and are not separated at death. It is also taught that ancestors can be sealed to each other and their descendants through the proxy ceremonies held in the temple.

This is a reason many church members become heavily involved in genealogical research.

However, the church only “solemnizes or seals marriages only between people of the opposite sex.”

“A deceased individual who has lived in a same-sex couple relationship or who has been a party to a same-sex marriage may receive all other available religious rites in a temple for which he or she is eligible,” the church stated.

Children of same-sex couples are also unable to be sealed to their parents.

The church said the systems on FamilySearch had to be “significantly redesigned” in order to accommodate addition of same-sex couples on the Family Tree program.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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