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Mormon church wants more compassion for gays

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon leaders made their most significant outreach yet to gays and lesbians, unveiling a new website Thursday that encourages church members to be more compassionate in discussions about homosexuality.

Church officials insist they have not changed Mormon teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that same-sex relationships are sinful. But the website says Mormons should be loving and respectful to gays and lesbians, while appealing to gay and lesbian Mormons to stay in the church.

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‘‘Reconciling same-sex attraction with a religious life can present an especially trying dilemma,’’ church leaders wrote on the website. ‘‘Anyone who lives in both worlds can attest to its difficulty. But with faith, love and perspective, it can be done.’’

Gay-rights advocates welcomed the effort while hoping the church would someday accept same-sex marriage.

‘‘My hope that this assists our most vulnerable, our youth, to have a safe place to be able to talk about their identity and maintain a safe place within their families and communities,’’ said Valerie Balken of Equality Utah, the state’s largest gay-rights group.

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