UPDATE 4:45pm CDT Thursday 18 June 2015:
Well that was quick. Within an hour of posting this article, it seems the glimmer of light in a phrase as simple as “This feature is coming soon” has been snuffed out. The FAQ article in question has been edited and no longer contains that phrase. Shame on FamilySearch for not seeing an opportunity for dialog.
Over the past several years, most creators of genealogy database software and websites have allowed the inclusion of same-sex relationships when creating family trees. There is one exception: the Family Tree section of the FamilySearch website. (Note: FamilySearch is a division of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the LDS Church or Mormons.)
Thanks to a recent discovery by genealogist Brooke Schreier Ganz, it appears that FamilySearch may soon add an important new feature: the ability to depict a same-sex relationship on the Family Tree program.
Evidence of Change: The Family Tree FAQ
What Ganz stumbled upon recently is this: An update to the FAQ section entitled “Recording data on same-sex relationships,” which now reads “SOLUTION: FamilySearch Family Tree is currently not designed to show, record, or accept same-sex relationships. This feature is coming soon.”*
It also appears that FamilySearch is further anticipating the needs of its Family Tree users related to other gender issues. A search for “same sex” in the Family Tree FAQ includes a draft article addressing the issue “An individual has changed his or her sex or gender through a medical procedure.”
What a Possible Change Means for ALL Genealogists
Personally, it means I won’t have to see a “fail” message each time I try to add my partner to my tree on FamilySearch. Right now, the only way I can add him is to assign him the female sex. Any attempt to assign the male sex is currently met with a “Save failed” message.
On a broader spectrum, it means that FamilySearch and the LDS Church can truly market their FamilyTree product to all genealogists, especially those who seek to document the history of blended families.
Although I am not a member of the LDS Church, I don’t see this as a change in Church doctrine or as tacit approval of same-sex marriage on the part of the LDS Church. It simply is a way to serve the needs of those dedicated to documenting the lives of all family members, no matter who they are or who they love.
* FamilySearch, Family Tree, “Using the Tree – Frequently Asked Questions: Recording Data on Same-Sex Relationships,” (http://www.familysearch.org, accessed on 18 June 2015), search for “Same-Sex Relationship.”
**Internet Archive, “Wayback Machine,” (http://archive.org/web/, accessed 18 June 2015), search for “http://familysearch.org/ask/salesforce/viewArticle?urlname=Recording-data-on-same-sex-relationships-1381815034912&lang=en.”
©2015, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.