Elizabeth Smart's father, Ed Smart, came out as homosexual in a Facebook post on Thursday, Aug. 15. He also said he was divorcing Lois Smart, his wife of 33 years. In his post, Ed Smart, 64, said his decision to come out was "a huge relief."
"I wish to share the news that I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay," he wrote. "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."
Ed, who is a Mormon, said he is leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because homosexuality is strictly forbidden in the Church.
"As an openly gay man, the Church is not a place where I find solace any longer," he wrote. "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."
"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," he continued. "I can no longer live trying to appease someone else’s idea of who I should be, and have come to the conclusion that it was never my Savior's intent to change me from the way I was born."
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed filed for divorce from the mother of his children on July 5 in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to Elizabeth, the couple share five other children.
Elizabeth, left, who has three children with husband Matthew Gilmour, was 14 when she was kidnapped in 2002 by Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee. She was rescued nine months later. Barzee has since been released from prison.
Now 31, Elizabeth commented on her father's decision to reveal his sexual orientation.
"My parents taught me as a young child that they would love me unconditionally no matter what happened,” the mother of three 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."