July 15th, 2009
One of our readers, Ben in Oakland, was solicited to do business with a company located in Utah. Still smarting from the interference of Utah Mormons in a California proposition in which members of the church contributed at least $20 million and 80-90% of all volunteers, Ben declined to do work with them, explaining as follows:
In the wake of Prop. 8, funded by the Mormon Church to enforce its theological beliefs upon my civil marriage, I have determined not to do business with any firm in Utah, if at all possible, and not to step inside of the state of Utah, which is entirely possible. You may not be a Mormon, or agree with what this church has to say about gay people. If so, I thank you for standing on the side of progress and religious freedom. And I apologize if this offends you.
As a gay man, my life has been severely impacted by the Mormon Church’s assertion that its set of religious beliefs trumps my civil rights as an American citizen, and that it has a valid reason for interfering in California’s civil law. I have urged my friends and correspondents not to do business with or in Utah if they can avoid it. Unfortunately, since the Church does not understand the concepts of religious freedom, tolerance, civil law, and minding your own business, perhaps it will understand economic pressure and social disapproval.
This may have an effect, it may not. I truly hope it does, but frankly, even if it doesn’t, it at least is serving to create consciousness that discrimination of the basis of religious belief has no place in America. Nor does prejudice, whether disguised as sincere religious belief, or admitted for what it is. People are understanding more and more that this is not about marriage, morality, faith, freedom of religion, the family, children, God’s word, or any other lying rationalization du jour. It is simply about what it has always been about: how much the very existence of gay people offends, entices, obsesses, and frightens some straight people, as well as those-who-wanna-be-straight-but-ain’t. This is why only a small shift in the vote– 2%– and Proposition 8 would have been history.
We’re here. We’re queer. Please get over yourself, LDS. It isn’t about you.
When this church stays the hell out of my civil marriage and my equality before the law, when it learns to stop telling lies about gay people and our families to advance its religious, political, and social agendas– in short, when it finally understands that to be respected, one must act respectably, that it cannot be purchased with the easy coin of other people’s lives–
At that point, if I still need your services, I’ll do business with you. Until then, I cannot.
This was their response:
I first want you to know and understand that I do not have a problem with the lifestyle you have chosen. It’s your life and right to live how you want, barring walking on another’s same given rights. Having made it clear to you that I have no problems with the way you have chosen to live your life, I would point out the hypocrisy in your decision not to do business with my company simply based off of our physical location. You feel that the Mormon church judges you, does not feel that you have a right to live how you have chosen, and has set you aside for things that are not necessarily changeable. You are now turning the same judgment to us. You will not do business with us because we live in the same state as the headquarters for the Mormon church. Forget that there are Mormons across the globe, forget that we are not connected to them as a business, forget that prop 8 is not completely funded by the Mormons, forget all of the logical points that could be used to refute your statement (which I have no intention of doing), and what are you left with? A gay man that actively stands up for his rights, that is willing to be heard, but cannot practice what he petitions for. How can you feel comfortable in the stand of anti-prejudice views and free rights when you hold for us (and every business like us in Utah) the same prejudice and judgment you feel are so wrongfully bestowed upon you?
Ben, if you want others to take you seriously in your beliefs and in what you stand for, start with showing others that you believe in the basic principals for which you fight, and not how they only apply to you as a gay man.
Ben has invited readers to share their thoughts on how he should react.
Personally, I’d advise dropping it.
You’ve made your point, Ben. They’ve lost a customer. This business, at least, has learned that there is a price to be paid for thrusting your religious views on others and actively harming their life.
And I’d not worry too much about their “but I don’t have a problem with the lifestyle you’ve chosen” statement. Theirs was the blustering of one who has been called on their bigotry and only has self-righteous posturing as a defense.
What do our readers think?
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