Does the Mormon church support civil unions between gays or lesbians?
According to Elder Wickman of the LDS church,
If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”
As far as something less than that — as far as relationships that give to some pairs in our society some right but not all of those associated with marriage — as to that, as far as I know, the First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself. There are numbers of different types of partnerships or pairings that may exist in society that aren’t same-gender sexual relationships that provide for some right that we have no objection to.
Some ask the question, "what could possibly be wrong with allowing some other group to do their own thing?" The LDS church position seems to be that laws permitting gay marriage will harm us as a people, as a nation, or as a world. LDS teachings proclaim that children deserve to be raised in a home with both a mother and a father.
Others might think that a high number of divorces have already soiled the reputation of this kind of "traditional marriage." However, it should be clear enough that the LDS church encourages members not to divorce, but to work out their problems instead. As a result, the divorce rate among church members is lower than the average in the U.S.
This is, like everything else involving mankind, an imperfect balancing act. The LDS church doesn't see itself as a perfect organization, but it does see specific ideals that are worth striving for. Members are not expected to judge others. There are gay members, divorced members, members who are jerks, members who are mentally ill, etc. and that's all part of the plan.
So LDS church leaders work very hard to communicate the importance of traditional marriage, while reaching out to homosexuals who may feel offended by this. Take for example, this quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, former President of the LDS church:
“People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
“We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families” (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).