SALT LAKE CITY – The Mormon church's massive genealogical database will begin accepting submissions of names of people from same-sex relationships sometime next year. The move doesn't foreshadow any change to long-standing church opposition to gay marriage, but it is being done to ensure the databank has as much information as possible for researchers, according to a statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "No judgments are made as to the legitimacy or character of the relationships found in these public records, nor can they be," church spokeswoman Irene Caso said. "They are simply collections of data to be assessed for their genealogical value by each researcher." Caso said church members who use the database to request temple sealings for their ancestors understand that can only be done for marriages between a man and a woman.
For the first time in decades, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated a top leader Tuesday for reasons that were not immediately revealed. Reports said James J. Hamula was released by the church from his high-ranking position in the First Quorum of the Seventy after a disciplinary action was taken against him by a board of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. According to Deseret News, the removal and excommunication -- which is the severest penalty that church leaders can get -- was rare. The grounds on which the Utah-based church excommunicates leaders include gross iniquity (involving transgressions such as murder, adultery, sexual perversion, and felony conviction) involving in or advocating plural marriage and apostatizing from the teachings of the Church. The grounds for Hamula's ouster were not revealed, however, reports denied that the reason was not apostasy, abandonment of religious beliefs or principles.