SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A gay Mormon man killed himself at a Mormon church after expressing anguish over his church's condemnation of homosexuality and its support of an anti-gay marriage ballot measure, activists say.
The body of Stuart Matis, 32, was found by an officer on Feb. 25 on a covered walkway behind the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints building in suburban Los Altos, said Sgt. Mark Macaulay, a police spokesman. Matis had shot himself in the head.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that Matis left behind a note that his parents found. Matis' note, read Wednesday night in a memorial service in a Mormon church in Santa Clara, said he had long prayed his sexual orientation would change, but eventually gave up hope.
"I am now free," he wrote. "I am no longer in pain and I no longer hate myself. As it turns out, God never intended for me to be straight. Perhaps my death might be the catalyst for some good."
The suicide note did not mention Proposition 22, the measure on Tuesday's ballot that would prohibit California from recognizing same-sex marriages if they are ever legally performed in another state. The Mormon Church supports the measure, and its members have been the campaign's leading source of volunteers and money.
Stuart and Jeanie Besamo of Simi Valley, activists in the campaign against the proposition, said they had been corresponding with Matis, and before his death, posted on their group's Web site a letter they said Matis had written to a young gay relative some time earlier.
The undated, 12-page letter, signed "Stuart," spoke of the writer's agony about the Mormon Church's positions on homosexuality and Proposition 22. If the measure passes, the letter said, "thousands of frightened young gay Mormons will dig deeper into the dreadful closet in panic that their parents or friends may discover the truth about them."
"The Church has no idea that as I type this letter, there are surely boys and girls on their calloused knees imploring God to free them from this pain. They hate themselves. They retire to bed with their finger pointed to their head in the form of a gun."
Matis' family, in a statement read at the service, asked that his death not be used for political gain. In a telephone interview, his mother told The Associated Press that his death had nothing to do with Proposition 22.