A Testimony: Jesus Loves Gay Marriage

Jesus_w_childrenLike many Mormons, I was raised to believe that sexual attraction was a choice. Anything other than heterosexual desire expressed through a Mormon temple marriage was inferior and possibly deviant. But I lacked fervor when it came to defending marriage. My testimony of California’s Proposition 8 was weak. It seemed like every young single adult in my stake was phone-banking or bearing a testimony of heterosexual marriage in a campaign commercial. But as I studied the issue of marriage equality I could find no legal, social, or moral basis to support limiting marriage to only heterosexual couples. It became a test of faith for me.

I loved President Monson and believed a prophet of God could never lead me astray. I attempted to put my faith in action with a Facebook post and bumper sticker in support of CA Proposition 8. I waited for the warm outpouring of Spirit to confirm my faith that I was standing for God. But, instead I accidentally overheard a conversation between those wounded by LDS support of Proposition 8 that helped me to realize I could not be an activist in support on this issue. I recognized I was contributing to the harm of people I cared about and took no further public action. But I still wanted to sustain President Monson and voted yes on Proposition 8, waiting for a testimony to confirm that my act of faith was the right choice.

Eventually a testimony came. But it was not the testimony I had sought out. Instead, I gained a testimony that marriage equality is essential to the plan of salvation; gay marriage strengthens families and heals and protects children.

This is my conversion story:

As an adoption social worker in Los Angeles, specializing in older teen adoption; my caseload was predominantly older children of color. The one exception was Joshua. A toothy pumpkin grinned boy living in a predominantly black neighborhood with an elderly black couple in their eighties. His foster parents were ready to retire from fostering and anxiously awaited the day Joshua could be placed with a permanent family for adoption. The lone white boy in his neighborhood, Joshua was frequently bullied for his socially awkward behavior.

Joshua was popular at adoption recruitment events with white parents looking to adopt a child that bore some family resemblance to them. At 10-years-old, he was still on the cute side of puberty. Joshua desperately wanted to belong to a family. His birthday wish each year in foster care was to be adopted.

Joshua was matched for adoption with a wealthy couple. Devoutly religious and empty nesters they had an abundance of time, experience, religious motivation, and wealth to pour into parenting Joshua. I was thrilled with the parenting assets they brought to the match.  After an extensive screening, they began to visit with Joshua in a process of increasing contact with initial short visits progressing to longer overnight weekend visits.

They tried to interest Joshua in board games, sailing, and hiking but described Joshua as quickly frustrated with each activity they attempted. Joshua told a different story of wonderfully fun people he wanted to live with forever. After about six weeks of visits, my ideal family pulled out of the adoption process and decided they did not want to adopt Joshua. They apologetically listed too many personality quirks and problem behaviors they felt exceeded their capacity to parent successfully.

Joshua was crushed. ”Why don’t they want me?” ”What did I do wrong?” He had hoped so hard, only for the relationship to fail.

A year and a half passed.

A single mother with a son just a year older than Joshua wanted to adopt him. After the heartbreak of the first failed adoption, this family faced even greater scrutiny. Every quirk or behavioral issue that might impede adoption was fully disclosed and emphasized. At times, I felt like I was discouraging the adoption. But the mother was very certain Joshua belonged with her and her son.

Finally, permission was granted to begin visits. Joshua was wildly hopeful. He held nothing back as if he had never been through an adoption match before. But one month into visitation the first overnight visit ended in a Monday morning phone call rejecting Joshua.

Joshua was devastated and depressed. He regressed to bedwetting at age 11 1/2. His foster parents were disappointed. His therapist was livid. A boy who came to foster care after enduring terrible neglect and abuse was emotionally crushed by a system designed to protect and help him to find unconditional love in a permanent family.

Another year and a half later on his 13th birthday, Joshua still wished on his candles to be adopted. Shortly thereafter a gay couple that had met Joshua at an adoption recruitment event expressed strong interest in adopting him. However, after two failed adoptions there was significant concern and caution to avoid another rejection. Fortunately, Joshua now had a mentor through the Kidsave Weekend Miracles program. The mentor introduced Joshua to the potential adoptive parents as friends of hers, allowing Joshua to get to know them without any expectation or a false hope of adoption.

Reuben and Anthony had an impressive resume of parenting classes and training in the needs of traumatized children. They had a ten-year solid relationship history and an extensive network of friends and extended family to support them in parenting. But, Joshua was in the full throes of puberty with the accompanying anxiety of masculinity and gender roles exacerbated by a lack of male role models in his life. Would a family with two dads be the right fit for him? Would he want two dads?

After several months of visits with Reuben and Anthony (casually supervised by the Kidsave mentor) all of the adults felt ready to move forward with adoption for Joshua if he was willing. After reviewing with Joshua how he wasn’t to blame for past failed adoptions, I started my speech about how some families have two moms or two dads. He quickly interrupted, ¨ Oh, you mean they are gay?¨ and I said, ¨Yes, would you want to be adopted by gay parents?¨ Joshua replied, ¨I just want to be loved by a family. It doesn’t matter to me if it is two moms or two dads, or one mom, or one dad. I just want a family that loves me the way I am.¨

2dadsIn that moment The Family: A Proclamation to the World ceased to be a doctrinal document for me. I saw what Joshua saw. A family could have one parent or two. Those parents might be men or women. It does not matter to Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to make individuals into families as his love binds together the flawed and imperfect in acceptance and love.

Over the summer, Joshua began overnight visits with Reuben and Anthony. He was still the same slightly weird, overly talkative kid he was at age 10 and 11 ½, but now with the added challenging behaviors of a young teenager. After he moved in with Reuben and Anthony there was a brief honeymoon period before Joshua’s most challenging behaviors began to manifest. But Joshua’s two dads took his grief, anger, learning disabilities, awkward social behavior, stealing, incessant talking, and bedwetting upon them. They bore the burden of the abuse and neglect perpetrated by others as they patiently loved and worked with Joshua a day at a time to heal from his many hurts.

As I witnessed the healing flow through Reuben and Anthony into Joshua, I was tutored in what it means to be like Jesus and take the suffering of another upon you. Reuben and Anthony were not the cause of the hurt in Joshua’s heart and body. But they used their own experiences of hurt, rejection and healing to mourn with Joshua. Humbly they sought help from others for the problems they couldn’t solve on their own. Each parent was gifted with characteristics and abilities perfectly suited to meeting Joshua’s extensive needs.

A healing miracle began to unfold and as I considered all the deficits in life Joshua faced, the injustice of not allowing his parents to marry shamed me. I was part of the problem! Joshua deserved to have every protection under the law. And I knew God wanted safety, healing and protection for Joshua far more than I did in my limited good intentions.

Then and now, with many more years of personal examples of exemplary gay families, I regret with my whole heart that I did not campaign in opposition to CA Proposition 8. Marriage equality strengthens families. It gives children like Joshua a space to be loved and healed within the bonds of a committed legally protected relationship.

Strong families are able to reverse the ravages of abuse and neglect through their willingness to change the peed-on sheets, soothe the violent rage, endure cursing, shoulder the embarrassment of the misbehaved child, teach to the learning disorder, gently promote good hygiene and hold the sobbing child. The errand of angels can be performed by a loving mortal regardless of gender.

Strong families are what Alma describes in Mosiah 18:9 when he sets forth the conditions of baptism: to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.

When Alma asks us to stand as a witness of God, I do not believe he is asking us to stand and proclaim that some of God’s children are defective or prohibited from expressing their love. All of us who opposed marriage equality in the belief we were standing for God were wrong.

I have seen the fruits of gay parenting and marriage equality. I know what happens when a child is permitted to be loved and healed by two people unconditionally committed, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. I witness and proclaim that each of us is a child of loving Heavenly Parents, each of us in all our flaws receives grace that is unearned, each one of us is born to love and be loved.

Reuben, Anthony, and Joshua taught me the healing miracle of relentless acceptance. Each open to rejection with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Examples of the vulnerability that allows the grace of Jesus to transform and heal. I hope one day the LDS Church allows all families to be sealed in the temple. The Church will be better for it as will every state and country that legalizes adoption by same-gender couples.

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48 Responses

  1. ron says:

    The Savior loving all is without question. However, he requires of me the sacrifice of my will for his. Having said that, the Fathers command to me is to be fruitful and multiply and have joy therein as husband and wife as it was in the beginning. The God of abraham, Isaac, and Thomas S. Monson all require of me the same covenants Adam made. For that reason homosexual relations arent found in the celestial kingdom because they arent sealed by His priesthood.

    • Cruelest Month says:

      I am hopeful that priesthood will continue to expand as it has throughout history. I am convinced priesthood is limited by man, not our Heavenly Parents.

    • Laura says:

      Huh. You’ve been to the Celestial Kingdom already? Wow. That’s amazing.

      Article of Faith 1:9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

      • ron says:

        Luke 10:16

      • chad says:

        If we’re going to get technical about how “it was in the beginning,” the first man was organized by commanding elements; the first woman was created from extracting biological material from another being; the most perfect man was born after his mother was overshadowed by spirit. No husband or wife involved. Maybe His ways in the Celestial Kingdom are not our ways.

      • ron says:

        And his ways are best explained by his prophets and apostles than by any other. The prophets last statement that no priesthood authority will preside over or seal same sex relationships was pretty clear.

      • Sandra says:

        James 1:27

        Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

      • ron says:

        Oh the confusing times we live in as our heartstrings are pulled between our worlds culture and Gods kingdom. God has made it clear that only the patriarchal order of matrimony sealed with his priestood will be without end. All others will end. That is the law we are bound by. Dont procratinate the day of your repentance as you will be judged by the law you are given.

    • Libby says:

      I am more and more convinced, as I raise my three children, that Abraham didn’t pass the test that God laid out for him.

      • Mark says:

        Are you saying that Abraham was supposed to have sacrificed Isaac?

      • AuntM says:

        Mark – Some argue that Abraham was supposed to protest/refuse and that by starting the process to slay his son he in fact failed the test.


        “Others go further, saying that God expected Abraham to protest. It was a test, but a test that Abraham failed. The proof: Abraham lived another 75 years, but God never spoke to him again.”

      • Claire says:

        I think that story is allegory to show us what God must have gone through to sacrifice his only son. I think God knows how we learn and what kind of shared experiences make an impact on mankind. I think Abraham definitely passed his test and I will be eternally grateful that God passed His test. I can’t imagine passing that kind of test, myself, and I can certainly understand your feelings.

      • Mark says:

        AUNTM – That is an interesting theory of the Abraham and Isaac story that I was unaware of.

        A majority of biblical scholars have come to a consensus that the historical Abraham didn’t exist except in the legends and traditions passed down. So arguing over the finer details of a fictional character’s history would be futile. I try to look at why this story was put into the Bible not what actually “happened”.

  2. Sara KS Hanks says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my own (less dramatic) process of coming to support marriage equality and being grounded in spiritual promptings as I did.

    Just FYI, I noticed that you used two different A names for one of the adoptive dads. Might have been a slip between his real name and a pseudonym you were using for this post? Anyway, wanted to make sure you were aware of the discrepancy.

  3. Amelia says:

    Such a beautiful story, Cruelest Month. Thank you for sharing. I feel just as you do. I do not think God cares all that much who it is we love, just so long as we do.

  4. Caroline says:

    Literally crying. Thanks for this beautiful post, April. God bless those two gay dads who sacrificed so much and worked so hard to parent this youngster. They and Joshua deserve all the legal protections the government can offer. I’m so happy that marriage for LGBT folks is now an option everywhere in our country.

  5. Barbara says:

    This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Big L says:

    Thank you for writing this. It is a beautiful story of healing and love. When prop 8 was going on, I was on the other side of the country and didn’t have to face the expectation to rally for something I wasn’t so sure I believed in, but seeing the posts of friends’ in support of prop 8 was the beginning of me thinking the church’s hard stance was wrong. Where I was once pretty ambivalent about marriage equality, that period of time led me out of ambivalence. And though I’m embarrassed and ashamed of my church’s actions, I’m grateful that they changed me for the better.

  7. Carolyn Nielsen says:

    I would only want to be part of a Celestial Kingdom that includes all who live and love the teachings of Jesus Christ no matter their circumstances or history. Jesus Christ said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” I have always understood that to mean all sheep, none excluded.

  8. Emily U says:

    I started reading this shortly before a meeting and had to stop because it was making me cry. It’s such a beautiful account of how these two men are agents of grace.

  9. MDearest says:

    “The errand of angels can be performed by a loving mortal regardless of gender.” Thanks for the reminder, and the hope that we can grow out of our twisted, selfish, privileged, fallen and sinful natures. I feel that grace is possible from reading your words.

  10. Sherri says:

    You expressed every thought I have had about the Proclamation and marriage. It will not hurt any of us to allow two people who love each other to get married. In fact, it will bless us. There is no reason to withhold from others the blessings that we have in marriage.

  11. Rob says:

    Ron, you like most Churche leaders forget that there are 3 degrees of Glory in the Celestial Kingdom and marriage is only required for ONE of them but all are eternal life because they are back in the presence of God. Maybe there are people who really don’t want to be able to have eternal increase–they are just happy to be a ministering angel and obviously God needs the people that will make up those degrees. So get down from your Tower and realize that ALL have sinned and need the Grace of Christ! Self-justication and self-exaltation is not only not possible, but is its own reward. “Depart from me for I never knew you”. And by the way genetically and phenotypicalyy it is not so simple as male or female–just like all of God’s creation there is diversity which delighted and pleased God and man. They didn’t just get gay marriage wrong they got “gay.” Wrong and have had to already change a lot of their prior “stands.” It used to be something cured by faith and heterosexual marriage, a choice, modifiable with reparative therapy and so forth and so on!!! Not a good track record for modern-day prophetic guidance! By their fruits ye shall know them–and the letter to all wards and stakes in the USA and Canada–just another example of formal rejection by Church leaders. They represent Christ–go back and read the letter and ask for what purpose? More importantly, where is the message of Love? For God is love

    • Douglas says:

      Do you think there is such thing as Gay Celestial Marriage?

      • Chad says:

        Do you think everything has been revealed? What we believe is not nearly as important as having the humility to admit we don’t know, and that we don’t have the capacity to even imagine what post-mortal relationships and procreation processes.

  12. Julie says:

    I support the church leaders. I trust in them. I may not understand everything. But I put my faith in the living prophet. I also support gay adoption…100%. I much prefer children in a loving gay home then in a broken system feeling rejected. Our society will pay more for that rejected child. Get them in the best home and family and I have a feeling more gay couples will come forward to save more lost and forgotten children.

    • Douglas says:

      If there are enough heterosexual married-couples to adopt all of these great kids then are you still for adoption by gay couples?
      Aren’t there enough hetro-couples? Can you provide a link?

    • Cruelest Month says:

      Julie, I still support Church leaders when the Spirit confirms for me that it is correct to do so. I am not willing to hurt people I love to follow an imperfect leader when the Spirit confirms that I am being led astray. But I am glad that you have found a path that works for you and allows you to support gay adoption. Thank you for sharing your voice! I hope that you will do what you can to advocate for the over 100, 000 foster children waiting for adoptive homes.

  13. Lisa says:

    Although I really understood your view on this article. I get it we should all just accept others for their differences. Having seen both sides of this situation and having been born outside the church. I went through the foster care process when I was one years old. I was adopted by a Mormon family when I was seven almost eight. I was than baptized when I was eight. Not really understanding the church. Growing up an environment with the gospel at every turn in my life. I somehow still didn’t understand the church. At times I hated the church and wanted to get away from it. The one thing I learned was importance of family. Being older now I have come to know what a true family is all about. From having no one that loved me to a mother who works day and night trying to please eight kids. To a father who worked long hours trying to provide for our every need. The thing that we need to understand is that in the very beginning of our church Adam was created and out of one of his ribs eve was created. Heavenly father created our bodies unique and different. But created a women so that man wouldn’t be lonely. The thing is I learned that a father and mother is crucial in the raising of children. To create children is scared between a man and a women that are married. Going through my teenage years I broke allot of rules rebeling against the rules of the church. I thought of the commandments and suggestions from the prophets as “stupid rules”. I began to learn how unhappy I was and came to realize that the commandments weren’t rules they are guidance to help us be happy. Heavenly Father knows what it best for us to be happy. He wouldn’t have created man and women for each other if it wasn’t the right thing. The thing is I can tell you all of this right now and you could choose to disagree with me but you have to find these things out for yourself. I wasn’t brainwashed all of my life I wasn’t forced any doctrine. I had to find it out for myself. I Have had allot of comments thrown my way ever since this gay marriage issue came up. Questions like “Why can’t gay’s be accepted in your church?” “Why can’t gay’s be married in your temples?” So many many more. Their is a really simple answer though. We have been taught through prophets and through the commandments that marriage is between a man and a women. We do not believe anything different. We don’t have to be mean to people we don’t agree with but we don’t have do it ourselves. The thing with this is people that support gay’s get mad at our church for not following their beliefs but they don’t accept us. Being gay is a choice.No one should have the right to judge anyone for it but what I believe is that their is a reason women and men are made for each other. I’ve seen it in my own life! Life without a mom and a dad to trust in my life growing up Was really hard for me. Coming from me the 20 year old a child who grew up adopted after age 7. I can testify that a man and women together in marriage is way important. A women gives a kind of naturing for a child and so does a man.

    • Cruelest Month says:

      Lisa, I am happy to hear that you were found by the right family and that your needs for nurture and care were met. Some of my clients have been adopted by two parent temple going LDS families. But I cannot objectively say that those children are better off or loved more deeply than children adopted by gay families or families of other religious backgrounds. In my work with hundreds of families, I have observed that all children need unconditional love, nurture, boundaries, limit setting, guidance, teaching, and acceptance. It does not matter if the nurture is delivered by a stay-at-home dad or if the rules enforcer is a working mother. Good parenting transcends gender. I am glad that a traditional Mormon upbringing worked for you and that you did not age out of the foster care system without a permanent connection as many do each year.

  14. Pandora says:

    This is such a beautiful story and a courageous act of truth to post it. I often think of Christ’s teachings when people would confront him with the details of one law or another. He would always quietly challenge that love transcends all. What you portray is the most we can aspire to here on earth – losing ourselves in taking care of each other. Can we put limits on what this love should look like, who can give it, and under what conditions? Your testimony is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    • Douglas says:

      God doesn’t put limits on love, but he has always put limits on sex. Are you suggesting that the limits God has historically put on sex have now changed? Or perhaps you’re suggesting that God never put limits on sex and that it was man, using God’s name, who put those limits?
      Can you please clarify your position. Does God put limits on sex?

      • Cruelest Month says:

        I find the Mormon prophets to be quite confusing on the subject of sex. Monogamy is best, except for when polygamy is best. Do not marry interracially and burn the offspring of interracial marriage. I suspect prophetic error is to blame for the changing rules, not God.
        I have not sought a revelation from God on what limits should be imposed on the sex lives of others. Honestly, I am too busy with my own life to worry about what other people do in their sex lives.
        One exception, I do feel that God has commanded me to be an activist against child marriage, genital mutilation, and child sexual abuse. I also feel called to contribute to Planned Parenthood on a monthly basis to promote family planning and effective birth control for drug users. These revelations are specific to me. I have no idea what limits God might put on your sex life. In my own life, I choose to exercise caution when I feel compelled to tell others how to live.

  15. Lil says:

    Loved this story…thanks for sharing! God is Love….and love conquers again! Good for Joshua and his dads…I know the Heavenly Father I know, loves them all, just as he loves me….I’m so grateful for that knowledge!

  16. Kristine A says:

    One of the reasons I support gay marriage is bc I am a former foster parent and am overwhelmed by the thought that our nation has an almost 30% shortage of foster care placements (these children mostly wind up in group homes, no families). Thank you for sharing this story.

  17. Claire says:

    I believe that Jesus loves us all, including anyone who loves a child as these two gay men have done. They have done a great thing and will be blessed for it. But I think we are blending two very different things here. Gay marriage is a construct of man. I doubt that Jesus loves gay marriage. He loves all people and has provided The Plan of Salvation for us, which is grounded in the traditional family and Celestial Sealings–as He declared in His Proclamation on the Family. We are all sinners and need Jesus to intervene for us and help us return to Him. I trust Him to figure out who goes where. It is our job to love everyone. But we can’t make up our own rules and hope He changes His mind. He has been clear in His instruction to us. He has been good to us. He has Loved us. I trust Him as He speaks through His prophets.

    • Cruelest Month says:

      Claire, I very much agree that it is our job to love everyone and appreciate your kindness in expressing your thoughts as to whether or not our Savior approves of gay marriage. My experiences are shared as my own personal transformation and a confession of judgement I once held and have let go. I have not had a personal interview with Jesus to ask him a few clarifying questions on gay marriage. But I have felt the strong feelings of peace and warmth that I was taught to recognize as the Holy Ghost telling me to be more like Reuben and Anthony. I felt a strong sense that their union is good and pleasing to God.
      My understanding of The Proclamation is that it was drafted by lawyers as part of the LDS defense of marriage strategy in Hawaii. It was adopted by Church leadership to legally establish that the ideas in The Proclamation are doctrines of the Church and not simply a political position. It was not received as a revelation from Jesus Christ in the upper room of the SLC Temple and is not included in the Doctrine and Covenants because it was not received divinely. I feel strongly that the prohibitions on child abuse and domestic violence contained in The Proclamation are true and right. My life experience leads me to disbelieve the statements on gender roles and marriage contained in The Proclamation.
      If the Church ever adds The Proclamation to the Doctrine and Covenants as an official declaration I would likely pray about it sentence by sentence and check to see if any parts of it I now reject I might come to accept.

      • Claire says:

        I believe that the signatures on the Proclamation qualify it as scripture every bit as much as if it were in the Doctrine & Covenants. I think you have incorrect information on the origination of the Proclamation. The exact wording may have been a collaborative effort of many people, but the ultimate source is clear on the document, itself. It is too bad, in today’s world, that everything has to go through attorneys, if that is what actually happened. But that does not change anything for me. If the Prophet signed it as revelation, I accept it as such. I don’t feel comfortable choosing which words from the Prophet I believe and which ones I don’t. I don’t see the point of that.

      • Ron says:

        Check the source of your Epiphany

  18. Pandora says:

    Admin Note: questioning others’ personal righteousness violates our comment policy. Productive disagreement is fine, but please stick with personal experiences and refrain from calling large groups of people who think differently from you “evil.”

    Thank you.

  19. Lorie says:

    Very moving, April. I’ve begun to believe that we Mormons make our theology less expansive than it could be. Perhaps what we need to learn is that exaltation is relational–that families and the Church and communities are not ends in and of themselves but vehicles for understanding this. Thank you for this lovely reminder.

  20. maya says:

    Beautiful story, April, and a good illustration of how equality in marriage creates greater, not less, stability for children.

  21. Izzy says:

    What a beautiful post. The two adoptive parents are such an example of unconditional love. The word charity comes to mind. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Jenny says:

    Wow Cruelest Month! This is beautiful. I’ve had a similar evolutionary process with this, but it’s hard now to understand how people can hear stories like this about the amazing good that comes from gay unions and still think that there is evil in it. I see only good and if good comes from it in this life, how could it not be good in the eternal scheme of things? Thank you for sharing this story.

  23. Ron says:

    Cruelest month
    I really don’t understand how lds members could support gay marriage. Per lds theology the only ones who may live together forever as husband and wife are the faithful ones who were married in the temple. All others will live separately and singly forever and ever. We are supposed to encourage repentance and not indulgence.

  24. Sue says:

    Thanks for a beautifully written article. As an adoptive single mother of two amazing children, I too hope one day that ALL loving parents can be sealed in the temple to their children. I don’t believe that God or Jesus Christ, who love all their children unconditionally, would rather my two once-orphaned children remained orphans any more than they would deny us being a family together forever. I love families. I am a supporter of families. I believe that true families can look very different than only as that to which kids are “entitled” as described in the Proclamation. I believe with all my heart that there is more revelation to come that will open the path for many types of families. Perhaps that time is not yet and I understand that, but I have a hard time with those who can not see that it is possible that this particular church doctrine may evolve and change the way other certain church doctrines have evolved. I hope the time is not far off…

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