SALT LAKE CITY — An LDS Church-run genealogical organization will soon include same-sex couples and their children to its database, according to a statement from the company.
FamilySearch, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will include same-sex relationships — parents and couples — to its FamilySearch Family Tree sometime in 2019. The change, the company says, is to “capture, store, and provide records and an accurate genealogy that represents past, present, and future families of the world.”
The change will likely not take effect until 2019 because the system that surrounds Family Tree needs to be redesigned to support same-sex relationships, the company said in a support document posted in April. Once the redesign is complete, information relating to same-sex relationships will be able to be included in the database.
The church first announced the changes in 2015 at RootsTech, saying the relationships would be added to Family Tree at a later date.
LDS Church spokeswoman Irene Caso said, “no judgments are made as to the legitimacy or character of the relationship found in these public records, nor can they be.” The records themselves are “simply collections of data to be assessed” by the researchers of FamilyShare.
“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who use these records to request temple services for their ancestors and families understand that the church solemnizes or 'seals' marriages only between people of the opposite sex,” Caso added.
Equality Utah, a group that works to ensure equal rights for LGBTQ individuals, applauded the efforts of FamilySearch to include same-sex relationships to its database.
“It’s incredibly significant that the LDS Church is recognizing same-sex couples and our families in their FamilySearch website,” Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, said in a statement to KSL.com. “We have certainly had our differences on the issue of marriage equality, but what both Mormons and LGBTQ people share in common is a deep love for our families. It’s great that gay couples can now use this resource and see our own families reflected in the data.”
The LDS Church has repeatedly taught its members to treat LGBTQ individuals with love and respect while maintaining that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. However, the church recognized a ruling that allows same-sex individuals to marry following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriages in 2015.
FamilySearch is one of the world’s largest genealogical organizations and operates as a non-profit company run by the LDS Church.