I am one of them.
The scriptures predict -- or prophesy, that there will be those who choose to leave Christ's church. If it isn't over this, then what tasty tidbit will cause more than thousands to leave?
While I don't agree with them, I have family and friends who are belters, and they are still my friends. They make fun of me for following blindly and I make fun of them for finding the reason they have been looking for all along. We are still family and friends.
"But Richardson is choosing to see the church’s decision as a hurdle, rather than an exit point. He prayed on what to do, he told me, and said he “got this profound feeling that this is a hard thing, and for whatever reason that it’s happened it’s been allowed to happen. And the savior is asking me if I’m going to walk way… and I decided that I’m not going to.”"
"Christian Harrison, who lives in Salt Lake City, also described a deep connection with his faith. Harrison told me that he grew up within the church, and that it’s been far from easy. “I was called an abomination growing up,” he told me over the phone. “I’m used to having people that I revere as men of God hurt my feelings.” But these interactions with clergy didn’t prevent him from having “a lifetime worth of spiritual experiences that are too sacred to share.” These experiences, he said, have “knit my soul to this church.”"
"For Harrison, the misguided opinions of LDS leaders aren’t reason enough to stop doing the spiritual—and charitable—work of the Mormon church. That work includes fighting for change from within the LDS. He’s concerned that if people abandon the church in protest at this time, only its most callous members will remain. “When the tender hearted all leave, where does that leave us? Where are we as a faith if we scare off everyone that is sensitive to the needs of our minority groups and those that are vulnerable?”"
Here's another quote:
"Einbender fears that he and Mickelson, despite their ward’s sympathetic bishop, will be excommunicated. There’s “a lot of local leadership that have no desire to excommunicate anyone,” he told me. The Handbook gives local leaders enough autonomy to allow them to look the other way from gay marriages if they choose. But, he said, it’s not that easy to find a gay-friendly bishop. Bishops aren’t permanently placed within a ward; they swap after five years. So finding someone who won’t excommunicate you is a gamble—as Einbender says, “bishop roulette.”"
It’s possible to practice as an excommunicated Mormon. John Gustav-Wrathal, a senior vice president (along with Richardson) at Affirmation, a group for LGBT Mormons and their allies, was excommunicated in 1986. He’s participated in the church as best he can: He attends prayers, participates in charitable missions, sings in his ward’s choir, and describes himself as a “believing Mormon.” Like the others, he feels accepted within his congregation.
Gustav-Wrathal told me that he left the church when he was excommunicated, but returned nearly two decades later. “I am very compelling, very powerful personal spiritual experience.” Gustav-Wrathal told me. “I felt God telling me that it was time to go back.”
At the end of the day, the gay men who are sticking with Mormonism don’t believe that the church leaders have the authority to dictate their relationships with God. As Harrison told me, “This is my church."*