SALT LAKE CITY — The world's largest genealogy organization is redesigning FamilySearch.org so the LDS Church-sponsored database can store and provide records of same-sex families.
FamilySearch first said in 2015 it would add a feature for same-sex relationships in the future. The major overhaul to the website's system should be ready by 2019, according to a statement on the website updated in April.
The statement said FamilySearch.org's goal is to capture accurate genealogy "that represents past, present and future families of the world."
"To support this goal," the release continued, "same-sex relationships, including same-sex parents and same-sex couples, will be provided in FamilySearch Family Tree. Several systems that surround Family Tree, such as tree and record searching, must be significantly redesigned to support same-sex relationships before Family Tree can release this capability."
FamilySearch International is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The leader of a group that seeks equal rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utahns and their families hailed the changes to FamilySearch.
"It’s incredibly significant that the LDS Church is recognizing same-sex couples and our families in their FamilySearch website," Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said. "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 church immediately acknowledged the legality of same-sex marriage in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized it in June 2015. Later that year, President Dallin H. Oaks, now of the First Presidency, counseled church members and people of faith to submit to the law because it had been sustained by the highest available authority.
Since then, LDS leaders repeatedly have taught that all people should be treated with kindness and respect and that Mormons should follow the law while continuing to teach that marriage between a man and a woman is a central part of Mormon doctrine and practice.
"Following this work, the FamilySearch Family Tree application can then allow same-sex information to be recorded," the release stated. "We appreciate your patience and desire to preserve the world’s genealogy in Family Tree."