Calif. man becomes a pioneer for gay Mormons

September 1, 2011

(RNS) Mitch Mayne is not the first openly gay person to hold a key
leadership post within the all-volunteer clergy of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he may be the first to announce it from
the pulpit.

On Sunday (Aug. 28), Mayne was installed as the "executive
secretary" to the local Mormon bishop in San Francisco, a job that makes
him highly visible as he assists the bishop in nearly every task.

Mayne will work in the church's Bay Ward, or congregation, which
includes San Francisco's heavily gay Castro neighborhood.

Mayne's newly appointed bishop, Don Fletcher, said Mayne was chosen
specifically to help build bridges between the Bay Area's Mormon and gay
communities. The gap widened when the church lobbied hard for the
passage of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.

"I want to reach out to gays and let them know that they are welcome
in the ward, wherever they're at," Fletcher said. "If they are, like
Mitch, living the commandments, they'll be put to work."

Mayne was in a committed, monogamous relationship with a man that
ended a year ago. Since then, Mayne said, he has lived by church
standards, and his ecclesiastical leaders found him worthy to serve.

Mayne wrote on his blog, however, that he cannot promise a "lifetime
of celibacy."

"I don't have a crystal ball or psychic powers," he said in a phone
interview. "I don't know where the road will lead me, but my intent is
to live my life according to the savior's will, with him by my side.
That's embedded in my DNA as a Mormon."

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