Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Survivor Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In a now-deleted letter posted to Facebook, Ed Smart, 64, the father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out as gay. In the letter, he also said that he's divorcing his wife, Lois.

The letter, as originally reported by the Deseret News, was described as "one of the hardest letters I have ever written."

"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," he added. "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."

Though the Deseret News suggested Smart was cutting ties with his faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he told KUTV that he was still a member in good standing with the church.

"My faith is strong, and unwavering, however, after considerable study, prayer and pondering I have come to a change in my beliefs. It is because of this change, that I can finally acknowledge and accept my orientation. Had I not had a change in my beliefs, I would have likely remained closeted the rest of my life," he wrote in the letter.

"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," he added.

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Ed Smart, father of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, came out Thursday in a letter posted to Facebook and then deleted, according to the Deseret News. George Frey/Getty

His wife, Lois Smart, filed for divorce on July 5, according to court records. In his letter, he praised her and said he regretted hurting her.

"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," Smart wrote.

Smart entered the public eye in 2002 when his daughter, Elizabeth, then 14, was abducted from her bedroom by knifepoint. She was rescued after nine months by police officers from her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee.

In 2011, Elizabeth Smart founded the Elizabeth Smart Foundation with her parents, a victims-rights organization devoted to stopping crimes against children and helping families affected by trauma.

Elizabeth told The Salt Lake Tribune that she was sad that her parents had separated, but supported them.

"My parents taught me as a young child that they would love me unconditionally no matter what happened," she told the paper. "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."

Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Survivor Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay | News