Ed Smart shared the news in a since-deleted letter posted to Facebook
Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping survivor and activist Elizabeth Smart, reportedly came out as gay and announced he is divorcing his wife, Lois, in a since-deleted letter shared to Facebook.
In the Facebook post, which was first reported by Salt Lake City newspaper The Deseret News, Ed, 64, reportedly said that sharing the news was “one of the hardest letters I have ever written.” Ed confirmed he wrote the letter to The Deseret News.
“I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay,” he wrote, according to the outlet.
“The decision to be honest and truthful about my orientation comes with its own set of challenges, but at the same time it is a huge relief,” he continued, according to The Deseret News. “Living with the pain and guilt I have for so many years, not willing to accept the truth about my orientation has at times brought me to the point where I questioned whether life was still worth living.”
Ed, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reportedly wrote in the letter that he has “come to a change in my beliefs,” though his faith remains “strong, and unwavering.”
“As an openly gay man, the church is not a place where I find solace any longer,” he wrote. “It is not my responsibility to tell the church, its members or its leadership what to believe about the rightness or wrongness of being LGBTQ.”
He later told KUTV that he is still in good standing with the church.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, court records show that Ed’s wife Lois — with whom he shares six kids — filed for divorce on July 5.
“Lois has been a loyal wife, and extraordinary mother, who has had to endure an impossible part of this journey,” Ed wrote in his Facebook post, according to The Deseret News. “I deeply regret the excruciating pain this has caused her. Hurting her was never my intent. While our marriage will end, my love for Lois and everyone in my family is eternal.”
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In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune made through a family spokesperson, Elizabeth, 31, said that she supported her parents.
“My parents taught me as a young child that they would love me unconditionally no matter what happened,” she said. “While I am deeply saddened by their separation, nothing could change my love and admiration for them both. Their decisions are very personal. As such, I will not pass judgment and rather am focusing on loving and supporting them and the other members of my family.”
She and her parents now work as child safety activists, speaking out about her experiences on behalf of others, and using her harrowing time spent in captivity to advocate for good through the Elizabeth Smart Foundation.