Here’s what I noticed in the statement issued yesterday by the LDS Church in response to a letter it received from the Human Rights Campaign. The statement was read by Michael Otterson.
1) LDS Newsroom has begun to use words gay and lesbian without prefixing them with "so-called" or placing the words in quotation marks. You can see this in several places in Otterson’s statement.
Further, Otterson uses these words as nouns as well as adjectives, which is something you still won’t hear in General Conference. LDS PR is taking the next step in saying that people known as gays and lesbians exist.
(Prior usage would have been the clumsy and demeaning phrase "people suffering from same-gender attraction."
It’s also interesting to note that the use of the word gay is so new to the Church that its copyeditors didn’t catch the nonstandard phrase "gay young men" and replace it with the more idiomatic "young gay men." )
2) LDS Newsroom used the term sexual orientation without prefixing it with "so-called" or putting it in quotation marks to delegitimize it. The idea that sexual orientation exists is very new to LDS official discourse. This may be the first use of the term in any kind of official LDS statement.
3) The statement explicitly calls out the fact that the Church recognizes that same-sex attraction is not lust. Otterson offers that there are "emotional, social, and physical feelings" involved. The implication is that sexual orientation is important to the formation of pair bonds. This an important change in thinking and strongly contradicts Elder Packer’s remarks. (Elder Packer admits only sexual desire, and not the social and emotional bonding that exists for a same-sex couple.)
4) LDS PR speaks the name "Human Rights Campaign" and says that the Church shares some goals with HRC. This may be the first time any offical statement by the Church has dignified a gay-rights group by speaking its name. (Prior usage would have been "Some say that..." or "While proponents of so-called 'gay rights' claim that...").
You can look back on previous statements from the Church to see how novel the current language is. For example, even as late as the Oaks/Wickman interview, the Church used quotation marks to indicate that the word relationship when applied to same-sex couples could only denote a risible counterfeit of authentic human experience. That’s now gone.
Kremlinologists (and copyeditors) take note. Change is afoot. :- )