Gay Baha'i man withdraws from faith over its anti-LGBT stance

Rich Tarpening, left, and his husband, Sean Rayshel Photo: Courtesy Sean Rayshel

A gay California man who's advocated for LGBTs in the Baha'i faith recently withdrew from the religion over its anti-gay stance.

Sean Rayshel, 36, is a third-generation American Baha'i who founded the LGBT Baha'i Twitter account Gay Baha'is United, is co-administrator of the Facebook group "LGBTQ Baha'is and Allies," and heads LGBT Baha'i online site Gay/Lesbian Baha'i Story Project.

A May 2014 letter that Rayshel believes was circulated by Baha'i leadership says, "To regard a person who has a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain is entirely against the spirit of the faith."

However, the letter from the faith's Universal House of Justice's Department of the Secretariat also says, "Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and sexual relations are only permissible between husband and wife."

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