Ed Smart, Elizabeth Smart’s father, has come out as gay in a Facebook post where he also announced his divorce from his wife, Lois Smart.
In the post, Smart, 64, said that he was also leaving the Mormon church. Smart said that although his faith remained, he wrote of the Mormon church, “As an openly gay man, the church is not a place where I find solace any longer. 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.” Smart added that he had “come to the conclusion that it was never my Savior’s intent to change me from the way I was born.”
Ed Smart became known nationally in June 2002 when his then-teenage daughter, Elizabeth, was kidnapped from their home in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elizabeth was found nine months later in March 2003 in Sandy, Utah, some 18 miles from her home. At the time, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, were arrested and accused of kidnapping.
In 2011, Brian David Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the kidnapping. His wife had been sentenced in 2010 to 15 years for her role. Wanda Barzee was released from prison in Draper, Utah, in September 2018.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Smart Said in a Facebook Post That He Has Lived With ‘Pain & Guilt for So Many Years’
Smart’s Facebook status update has not been made public at the time of writing but has been viewed by several news outlets in Utah. The Deseret News quotes the statement as saying in part, “I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay.”
Smart wrote that the post was “one of the hardest letters I have ever written.” Smart continued, “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. 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 Smart wrote that he had been witness to members of the LGBTQ community being humiliated within the Mormon church. Ed wrote that “fought” to “suppress” his feelings. Smart said he wanted to “tell those being ostracized that I too am numbered among them.”
Smart commented that people had told him that he wasted his life by not coming out sooner, while others have said that homosexuality is a sin. Smart wrote, “Both are inaccurate and fail to do justice to the deep conflict involved in not being honest with myself and others for so long. Acknowledging I am a gay man is freeing but it also hurts many of those whom I love very much.” Smart concluded his post by writing, “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.”
In an interview with KUTV about his decision to come out, Smart said that he “struggled with this for most of his life.”
2. Smart Is the Father of 6 Children
Smart and his wife Lois have six children together. Elizabeth is the second-oldest of four brothers and one sister. Elizabeth’s sister Mary witness the infamous kidnapping as Brian David Mitchell entered the room the two shared on the night of June 5, 2002. Mary waited two hours before alerting her parents about the kidnapping after Mitchell had threatened her.
Elizabeth Smart said of her mother in a 2014 interview with People Magazine, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my mom. My mom is a hero and has influenced my life more than any other person, and I’d like to have that same influence on my children.”
3. Lois Smart Filed for Divorce on July 5
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that Lois Smart filed for divorce on July 5. In his Facebook post, via The Deseret News, Ed Smart paid tribute to his wife saying, “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.”
Together, Smart and his wife had written a book about the ordeal they went through with their daughter’s kidnapping, “Bringing Elizabeth Home,” that was made into a Hallmark TV movie. The couple wrote in the book of the moment they realized their daughter was gone, “Lois’s eyes fell on the cut screen in the kitchen window, and she screamed in utter disbelief and shock. That’s when we both realized that Mary Katherine’s words had quickly become our worst nightmare. Our daughter Elizabeth was gone.”
4. Prior to His Daughter’s Kidnapping, Ed Smart Was a Prominent Mortgage Broker in Salt Lake City
Prior to his daughter’s kidnapping, Smart had been a prominent mortgage broker in Salt Lake City with his own company, Smart & Company. According to his Facebook page, Smart is originally from Salt Lake City and graduated from East High. Smart attended college at George Washington University where studied finance and got an MBA in 1991.
Since his daughter was found, Smart has been an advocate for missing people. In his Facebook post announcing his homosexuality, Smart said that his advocacy work will continue. Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation along with his daughter. The organization advocates against child abuse and empowers survivors. Smart says on his LinkedIn page that he is the executive dierctor of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation.
Smart was prominent in the news in September 2018 when Wanda Barzee was released from prison. Smart, along with his daughter, stated his belief that Barzee was still a threat. The Salt Lake City Tribune quoted Smart as saying, “If I felt like she had turned a corner, that she was sound mentally, I wouldn’t feel bad about her getting out. If a person serves their sentence, that’s fine. All indications are she’s still in the same mindset that she was when she pushed Brian to come down to the house and abduct Elizabeth.”
Ed Smart had hired his daughter’s kidnapper, Brian David Mitchell, to do work on the family’s roof, while Lois Smart admitted that she had once given Mitchell money on the street.
Utah County Commissioner, Nathan Ivie, a member of the Republican party, came out as a homosexual in May 2019. Ivie said in a Facebook video that he had struggled with his sexuality for years prior to coming out.
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that Ivie and Smart are friends. Ivie told the Tribune upon hearing of Smart’s coming out, “I am happy for him and wish him the best on this next part of his life and pray he might receive the same kindness and support that was offered to me.”
5. Elizabeth Smart Said That Although She Is Saddened by Her Parents Separation, She Supports her Father
In a statement, via The Deseret News, Elizabeth Smart that she supported both of her parents, although she was saddened at their separation. Smart 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.” Elizabeth added that her parents had taught her from a young age not to pass judgment on others.