Mormons to resign in Utah protest at church's gay marriage stance

By Alex Dobuzinskis

By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - Hundreds of Mormons plan to resign from the church in Salt Lake City this weekend at a protest against a church policy barring the children of married same-sex couples from receiving baptism, organizers said on Thursday.

The policy, approved last week by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, added same-sex marriage to the list of acts considered to be a renunciation of the Mormon faith and thus subject to church discipline, including excommunication.

At least 650 demonstrators plan to gather on Saturday at a park across the street from the headquarters complex of the Utah-based church, said organizer Lauren Elise McNamara.

Most of them will collectively mail their letters of resignation there, while hundreds more are expected to mail them from elsewhere, she added.

The church, which says it has more than 15 million adherents worldwide, has long kept records of its members.

"When this announcement came out, there was no way I was going to leave my name on the books," said McNamara, 29, who converted to the faith as an adult with her husband and plans to resign along with him.

On a Facebook page created for the event, a woman in a same-sex marriage wrote that she grew up Mormon and feared the new church policy would lead her relatives to disavow her.

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not return a call or emails seeking comment.

The new church policy, which follows a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage, also prohibits natural or adopted children of gay married couples from being baptized in the faith until they turn 18, leave their parents' home and personally disavow same-sex marriage or cohabitation.

The church this year announced support for U.S. laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing and employment. But its leaders have said sex should only happen between a wedded couple, and that they cannot sanction same-sex marriage.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Richard Chang)