Ed Smart, the father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, announced in a letter via Facebook that he is gay and divorcing his wife, Lois, TODAY reports.
He also announced he is leaving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
TODAY reports Ed Smart shared his Facebook letter with them.
A portion states:
“It is with this same spirit that I wish to share the news that I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay. 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.”
I love my family and always will. Lois has been a loyal wife, and extraordinary mother, who has had to endure an impossible part of this journey. 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. I believe that love is what binds us together. While there are wounds right now, I also know our Savior can help heal the damage which this revelation has brought. Through Christ love will outlast the grief.”
He also released the following statement to TODAY:
“I’m just grateful for the amazing love and support from everyone. It was, as I’ve said, incredibly hard getting to this point and I feel for so many that are struggling in my situation trying to make the decision of whether to come out or remain closeted the rest of their life. That decision is deeply personal but liberating.”
Elizabeth Smart released the following statement in regards to the announcement:
“My parents taught me as a young child that they would love me unconditionally no matter what happened. 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.”
Elizabeth Smart, 31, was abducted by Wanda Barzee and her husband, Brian David Mitchell, when she was 14.
She was found nine months later, walking down a street in the suburb of Sandy with Barzee and Mitchell, a drifter and self-described prophet who called himself Emmanuel. He had done some handyman work at the Smarts’ home.
Just after her abduction, Mitchell took her to a wooded area behind her home and performed a mock marriage ceremony with her, Smart later said. During the nine months of her captivity, she was held captive in Utah and California.
Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 — nearly nine years after Smart’s abduction. Barzee has been released from prison after 15 years in custody.
TODAY reports that Ed Smart became a child safety advocate after Elizabeth’s abduction.