Mormon church’s new San Francisco liaison Mitch Mayne is openly gay 

click to enlarge Ecclesiastical emissary: Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay, is expected to build bridges between The City’s LGBT community and the Mormon church he represents. (Courtesy photo) - ECCLESIASTICAL EMISSARY: MITCH MAYNE, WHO IS OPENLY GAY, IS EXPECTED TO BUILD BRIDGES BETWEEN THE CITY’S LGBT COMMUNITY AND THE MORMON CHURCH HE REPRESENTS. (COURTESY PHOTO)
  • Ecclesiastical emissary: Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay, is expected to build bridges between The City’s LGBT community and the Mormon church he represents. (Courtesy photo)
  • Ecclesiastical emissary: Mitch Mayne, who is openly gay, is expected to build bridges between The City’s LGBT community and the Mormon church he represents. (Courtesy photo)

A congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Francisco has garnered national attention with the high-level appointment of an openly gay man.

On Aug. 14, Mitch Mayne was named executive secretary to the bishop of the church’s Bay Ward, a 950-member congregation located at 1900 Pacific St. The key post has Mayne assisting the bishop in most church operations, such as planning and attending council meetings and acting as a conduit between members and leadership.

But Mayne’s appointment carries an additional, more controversial role. The San Francisco congregation has tasked Mayne with building bridges between the local gay and Mormon communities. That’s a tall order given the LDS church’s support of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Mayne, who supports same-sex marriage, said he is one of many gay Mormons who struggled with their faith when the LDS church backed the measure. During the height of the debate, Mayne said he had been in a long-term relationship.

“As a gay man, watching my Mormon brothers and sisters advocate something that kept me from marrying the person I loved was difficult,” he said.

Mayne and his bishop, Don Fletcher, want gays to know they are welcome at his congregation, which encompasses the Castro district.

Between the three LDS wards in The City, there are about 2,500 members, a significant number of them gay, Mayne said. Only about 500 are attending, he said.

“No one is going to ask you to give up your partner before entering the door,” Mayne said.
Fletcher admits it’s a “tough sell.” According to LDS doctrine, members cannot be sexually active until marriage, and only a man and a woman can marry.

Fletcher said he still abides by that doctrine and is not trying to change it. If anything, he said, his congregation could potentially spark a cultural shift among Mormons.

“If our ward in San Francisco can be an example, if that’s copied elsewhere, wonderful,” Fletcher said.

Leadership at the church’s world headquarters in Salt Lake City declined to comment on the matter, calling it a “local issue.”

Since announcing he is gay over the pulpit, Mayne said he has received much support from Bay Area Mormons and the gay community.

“I think change has to happen on all fronts,” said Rebecca Rolfe, executive director for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. “It also has to happen within [the church].”

Rolfe said the LDS church “really needs to look at a doctrine that supports every member.”

The Mormon church is volunteer-
based. By day, Fletcher is a physician and Mayne works in corporate communications.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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