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Soon has finally arrived

If memory serves, it was the RootsTech conference in 2013 when Brooke Schreier Ganz stood up in a FamilySearch question-and-answer session and asked the question the first time: “When will the FamilySearch Family Tree allow genealogists to record same-sex relationships?”

“Soon,” she was told.

She asked again in 2014. And got the same answer.

Then again in 2015.

In 2016.

In 2017.

In 2018.

And again in 2019.

But she won’t be asking that question again at RootsTech 2020.

Because “soon” has finally arrived.

FamilySearch announced yesterday that same-sex relationships and connections of same-sex partners to the children of those relationships can now be entered properly in the tree system: “The FamilySearch Family Tree now provides the ability for users to document all family relationships, including same-sex relationships. Nonprofit FamilySearch provides access to the world’s genealogical records and other free services to create family discoveries and memories. FamilySearch is a free service that enables anyone to discover, build, manage, share, and preserve their family’s history. It encourages genealogical accuracy based on original source records and contains over a billion user-contributed lineage-linked records. Patrons are now able to document same-sex relationships, including same-sex marriages and same-sex adoptions.”1

And, the release adds: “When adding a spouse or parent to the FamilySearch Family Tree, the user can now add a spouse or parent of the same sex. The Family Tree mobile app will also support this new capacity after users install the necessary updates.”2

FamilySearch tree

The change to the system color-codes partnerships based on the declared genders of the partners. Heterosexual couples are coded blue for the husband (or father) and red for the wife (or mother). Same-sex male partners are both coded blue; same-sex female partners are both coded red. To prevent accidental mistakes, choosing the same gender for the partner of a person in the tree produces a warning: “This change will create same-sex relationships.” There is no option not to declare a gender for each partner.

A more detailed statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), which sponsors FamilySearch, explained that “Several systems that surround Family Tree, such as tree and record searching, had to be significantly redesigned to allow for the documentation of same-sex relationships before Family Tree was able to release this functionality.”3

While noting that there has been no change in its religious doctrine, which does not recognize same-sex relationships, the Church statement continued:

• “The FamilySearch Family Tree is designed to encourage genealogical accuracy based on original source records. The Family Tree provides the ability for users to document all family relationships, including same-sex marriages and same-sex adoptions.”

• “FamilySearch seeks to digitally preserve and provide access to genealogical and historical records, and this is part of its efforts to accurately document the human family.”

• “FamilySearch is not the first genealogy site to allow for recording same-sex relationships.”

• “The standards for submitting memories (photos, stories, documents) are the same for all users, and follow the FamilySearch Upload Guidelines and Policies.”4

“Soon” has finally arrived.

And all The Legal Genealogist can say is… it’s about time.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “It’s about time…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 Dec 2019).


  1. FamilySearch Adds Ability to Document All Family Relationships,” Newsroom, posted 10 Dec 2019, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Dec 2019).
  2. Ibid.
  3. FamilySearch Now Provides Ability to Document Same-Sex Family Relationships: Church teachings on eternal marriage remain unchanged,” Newsroom, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ( : accessed 10 Dec 2019).
  4. Ibid.
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