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Will LDS’s Incremental Approach To LGBT Issues Someday Lead To Bigger Changes?

Jim Burroway

November 14th, 2009

At least that’s how I interpret the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has placed a statement endorsing specific pro-LGBT legislation on their online LDS Newsroom:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared its support of nondiscrimination regulations that would extend protection in matters of housing and employment in Salt Lake City to those with same-sex attraction.

The Church said the Salt Lake City Council’s new nondiscrimination ordinance “is fair and reasonable” and balances fair housing and employment rights with the religious rights of the community.

It doesn’t get any bigger than this. Can you imagine the Vatican placing a similar statement on their web site or publishing it in L’Osservatore Romano?

The Church had released a similar statement last August offering support for limited LGBT civil rights measures, but that occurred at the same time that it was pumping millions into the fight to strip California’s LGBT citizens the right to marry. At the time, the statement was seen as nothing more than a fig-leaf to try to shield the Church from charges of bigotry. But Utah’s LGBT advocates took the Church at their word and pushed for the Common Ground Initiative, a series of LGBT protections put before Utah’s Mormon-dominated legislature that were modeled on the Mormon statement. The Common Ground initiative however was utterly crushed by Mormon legislators and never even made it out of committee.

This time, the Mormon hierarchy chose to put a tiny fraction of its influence officially behind the Salt Lake City non-discrimination ordinance. The tiny fraction was all that was needed though, because its implications go far beyond a city council vote that few believed was in doubt even without support from the Church. LDS spokesperson Michael Otterson’s statement before the Salt Lake City council — which the Mormon web site describes as “representing the position of the Church’s leadership” — puts the church fully on record for the first time in support of a specific piece of pro-LGBT legislation. This is huge in and of itself. What’s more, one high-ranking LDS leader, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has already hinted that the Church may very well support at least parts of the Common Ground Initiative when it is brought back to the state legislature.

If the Church follows through, this will truly be a historic step. More importantly, decades from now we may look back on this as a significant turning point for LGBT Mormons. That’s because Mormonism is very different from other popular religions in America in that it is the only major religion which reserves the authority to change a portion of its canonized texts according to ongoing revelations. And there is recent precedent for just such adjustments in their doctrines. Not long ago, Blacks were regarded as being under the curse of Ham, and thus denied full participation in the Church. Mormon scriptures still declare (2 Nephi 5:21):

For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

Having black skin was a mark of a curse. And according to the Book of Mormon, when the curse is lifted from a group of black-skinned people, their skins became white (3 Nephi 2:14-16):

And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites.

According to long-held Mormon doctrine, black skin was the mark of a curse that individuals acquired due to unfaithfulness in their pre-existence. And because they displayed the mark of that curse on their skins, Blacks were not permitted to enter into celestial marriages or the Priesthood. This also meant that their role in the celestial kingdom would be a lesser role — as eternal servants.

This teaching came under fire in the 1950s and 1960s during the civil rights struggle. Sports teams began boycotting Brigham Young University and the NAACP held protest marches in Salt Lake City, but the Church held steadfast to its teachings, saying that “it is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord.” When a few Mormons themselves began opposing their Church’s racial teachings, many were excommunicated or denied entry into the temple for important ceremonies. (Sound familiar?) But all that finally changed in 1978 when, acting on a brand new revelation, the LDS Church added an entry into the open canon of its scripture known as Doctrine and Covenants which finally granted Blacks full participation in the life of the Church.

And guess what? Nobody’s skin color changed.

This latest move by the Mormon church to actively support the non-Discrimination ordinance should rightly be seen as a very small step. No, they’re not about to grant celestial marriage to LGBT Mormons anytime soon, just as they resisted allowing celestial marriages for African-Americans. Right now, there’s still every indication that the Church will continue to vigorously oppose marriage equality with every resource at its disposal. They will give us many new reasons to harbor deep well-earned anger and justified suspicions for many years to come as they continue to try to enshrine their particular religious beliefs into secular law at our expense. For that we must always be vigilant and hold the Church accountable.

All that said, this is still cause for hope. This is a Church that isn’t hamstrung by a closed canon, and it has a long history of receiving new revelations to correct grievous wrongs. What’s to keep the Church sometime in the future from receiving another revelation — this time one that reconsiders the place of its own LGBT sons and daughters in the life of the Church and the celestial kingdom?

Such a change certainly won’t come any time soon; it’s still likely decades away, at least. But that very possibility makes this latest step in favor of pro-LGBT legislation, as small as it is for our liking but as huge as it is for the Church, reason to rejoice.

Comments

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David C.
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Jim, I don’t know. I’m still having trust issues with the LDS Church.

Had Olson/Boies failed to get a favorable discovery ruling in Perry v Schwarzenegger I wonder if this would have happened. There is a lot of positioning going on and it has started to show up on multiple fronts all at the same time. There is also a very convenient (but essentially harmless) backlash to provide contrast and perhaps lend credibility to the magnitude of the change in position. Is it a measured attempt to shift the Overton Window?

I suppose we should be grateful for this small movement toward compromise, but I remain leery of swimming with this particular whale.

tavdy79
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Mormonism “is the only major religion which reserves the authority to change a portion of its canonized texts according to ongoing revelations.”

That’s also true of Quakers, who are without doubt at the very liberal end of Christianity – so much so than in Britain Quakerism is increasingly counted as a separate faith.

Sparky
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

I hope so, I really do. But I’m very cynical here. It’s going to take a bit more before I believe this is more than just a token gesture from a church facing fierce criticism

Elliot in NY
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

I’m more inclined to think that this is a stunt to get the gay people off their backs. Although I think it’s possible that they’re lightening up on equality, and I firmly believe that they’ll one day support marriage equality, I don’t think this is a turning point. It’s more of a distraction piece.

Doug in NV
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Haveing grown up in SLC as a Mormon, I’m very cynical of this. Them LDS Church is very “image conscientious”. From a public relations standpoint, The Church is just doing some “Damage Control” to quiet the negative publicity they’ve created this past year with the huge money they pumped into Prop. 8 in Calif. and the Kissing incident in front of their Temple which was broadcast around the world. There was NO olive branch from the Church. Just good old fashioned P.R.

Jim Burroway
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

tavdy79,

As I understand Quakerism, it has never changed its canonized texts. To the extent that it refers to canons of various faiths, Quakerism is open to constantly re-evaluating the meaning and validity of those texts. But I am unaware of Quakerism actually identifying a text as part of its canon, calling it the indisputable word of God, and then changing or modifying that text. This was the distinction I was trying to make.

cowboy
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

And now the LDS Church has come under the wrath of America Forever. They believe the Mormons were bullied by GAYS and sent faxes to 80,000 Mormons to tell them they (or their leaders) are wrong about GAYS and they should be “outraged”.

That sure is going to endear them to the Mormons. (cough cough)

One minor clarification on what Jim Burroway wrote. There was never a canonized rule to keep African-Americans from participating in all the rights and privileges of the Temple. There was not a rule for keeping Blacks from the Priesthood. For years, many erudite Mormons argued in their respective Wards about this fact and the only reason for keeping Blacks from getting a temple-recommend was bigotry and racism. The interpretations by Brigham Young and promulgated by various other LDS Church leaders were not officially sanctioned by the LDS Church.

The “revelation” was merely a clarification. In my opinion, this was not a revelation but, rather, a consensus by the majority of the General Authorities about an issue.

It is as if the Country Club suddenly allowed Blacks to play on their golf course. A change in the rule book. That’s all.

But, I can’t imagine ever being sealed to a man in an LDS Temple.

The members of my family think I’ll be “set right” in the next life and I’ll have some woman posthumously married to me by proxy. Because, they know it’s not fair that if I live my life completely chaste, celibate and suffer the rest of my life with my “affliction” I still won’t make it to the highest Kingdom in Heaven unless I get “sealed” to woman.

And my neighbors wonder why I don’t go to their Church on Sundays.

John
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

It is unlikely that I will ever trust the Mormon Church.

By the way, don’t you think it is telling that all the criticism of this tactical change on the part of the Mormon Church is coming from non-Mormons. Dissent from the pews isn’t something that you see from Mormons. They seem to get their new marching orders and start marching.

Candace
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Well, since Mormons believe that marriage is for the purpose of making as many spirit babies as possible to populate a planet for them to be the god of, it follows that they would only endorse procreative marriage.

Oh… except for the fact that they allow for marriage of post-menopausal women and infertile people all the time.

Hmm, so I guess their anti-same sex marriage stance is based on bigotry and animus after all.

Carry on.

Scott P.
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

This is not some hugh concession. Salt Lake City is comparably liberal and has a population of less than 200,000. So the people protected by these very minor rights represent a fig leaf to cover the LDS Church’s anti-gat bias.

The state legislature actually rewrote property laws to exclude “right of survivorship” clauses in home ownership, forcing gays to draw up wills that could still be contested in court. Until this disgusting slap in the face is rescinded I’m not buying this new “compassionate” Mormon Church.

wackadoodle
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Can you imagine the Vatican placing a similar statement on their web site or publishing it in L’Osservatore Romano?

Yes I can imagine the Vatican backing an anti-discrimination ordinance in a single city in Italy that would have passed even with their full opposition just so they can use this one statement of support, with absolutely no financial backing, as proof they don’t hate gays while spending millions taking their rights away.

Max
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Cowboy,

You are a little off on the history of blacks in the LDS church. If you read the biography of David O. McKay, you’ll find that he states that the ban on the full participation of blacks was a matter of policy, and not doctrine (i.e. not canonized) – but it was still an official policy. So, in that sense, there was a “rule” to keep blacks from holding the Priesthood and participating fully.

Additionally, there were dissensions from this policy in the highest ranking officials of the church (Quorum of the 12, or as I call it the Q12) for many decades up until the ban was finally lifted. I think that those dissenters were the ones that, over time, influenced the younger members of the Q12 so that when they were the top dogs, they were willing to change the policy. Whether or not it truly was a “revelation”, or just a move to get college football teams with black players to play against BYU is a different debate.

My point is that even this ardent policy, which existed from the 1850’s up until its removal in 1978 *was* eventually removed. It took a few decades of consternation at the upper levels, but it finally got through. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of this again. The statements made by Jeff Holland (of the Q12) on Thursday were very reminiscent of support for blacks given by Hugh Brown (Q12 during the 1950’s and 60’s). As long as there is one person in their leadership that is willing to consider equality, it will eventually happen. It’s a faint glimmer of hope.

Don’t take this glimmer of hope for granted though, they majority of the leaders are still going to fight tooth and nail against us for now. So, for now, the stunt is probably just a lame PR move, but there are people in the leadership who will effectuate change in time.

Seth R.
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

The problem is that the LDS doctrines on race were directly contradicted by existing Mormon scripture and belief. And they were based on a very strained reading of the Book of Mormon (which repeatedly speaks of the supposedly dark-skinned Lamanites being more righteous and favored than the Nephites. And a strained reading of the Bible as well.

To say nothing of how sketchy the origin of the doctrines in Mormon history were to begin with.

The doctrine really didn’t have a scriptural leg to stand on, and when the LDS Church moved big-time into mixed-race places like Brazil, the policy became essentially unenforceable.

Homosexuality is a different kettle of fish entirely.

The scriptural prohibitions of homosexuality are fairly clear. Furthermore, the Mormon doctrine of theosis (how humans become divine) is premised on the union of male and female as one.

Mormons believe that God the Father is accompanied by God the Mother as well. And since the ultimate aim of Mormon theology is to imitate God and share what he has, the existence of Heavenly Mother presents a real problem for reconciliation with homosexuality. If you can’t unite male and female aspects in divine harmony, you’re basically out of luck on the god-track.

Honestly, I don’t know how we’re supposed to get around that one.

This is why I think that comparisons to the LDS Church’s stance on race are really apples and oranges. Homosexuality is an entirely different problem for the LDS Church.

Seth R.
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

And by the way, the LDS Church is already being attacked by elements of the Christian Right for this concession.

It’s hard for me to believe that the LDS Church would trade the lukewarm and guarded approval of some liberals and gays for the disapproval of former allies on the conservative wing.

So the assertion that this was just a PR stunt doesn’t fly with me.

If it’s a PR stunt, then you have to ask why the LDS Church would trade favorable approval among one group for an equal amount of disapproval among an equally influential group.

If PR was all they were after, I doubt they would have risked alienating more conservative allies.

cowboy
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks Max for the insight. The way they manipulate the differences in their policies and say it’s not in their rules…it gets confusing.

And Seth: I agree. There are obstacles in Mormon doctrine that we gays are never going to bridge with the Mormons. Their Plan of Salvation is perfect except when it comes to homosexuals. In Mormon thinking: nature could never have created us because it would screw with their dogma in a major way. Hence, that’s why Sutherland Institute’s Paul Mero is so doggedly sure it was something in our nurturing that made us the way we are.

What galls me is the way Mormons gloss over their racist past and never have apologized for the way they treated Blacks…at least I have never heard any Prophet since 1978 give an official apology. I know it would it be too much to ask for an apology for all the heinous actions the agents of the LDS Church did to homosexuals at BYU.

Now, if the LDS Church would distance itself from NARTH and quit letting Dr. Byrd use their facilities on Temple Square for their conferences…it would make for a truly altruistic gesture.

tristram
November 14th, 2009 | LINK

“And guess what? Nobody’s skin color changed.”

Isn’t Sammy Sosa a Mormon?

Seth R.
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

Actually I’ve heard Mormon leaders concede that homosexuality may be genetic.

Not that this is much of a concession, since the position then becomes – “homosexual sex is wrong even if the attraction and feelings are genetic.” I’ve seen it before. Mormons may be perfectly willing to concede homosexuality is genetic and yet still treat it as a problem to be overcome.

So the genetic argument gets you nowhere really.

But, I have heard LDS leaders leave open the possibility of genetic causes.

Which is a good thing, I guess, since it at least upgrades the status of gays in Mormon eyes to sympathetic victims rather than brazen perverts.

Not that I think gays will be happy with either label – but we take what progress we can get, I guess…

Burr
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

There’s an easy (though silly, but not more silly than any other Mormon belief) way of reconciling gays and their marriages with their celestial beliefs. Declare gays to be part male and part female in spirit. When two get together those parts become whole and then the male and female parts become one just like everyone else.

Done. This religion stuff is so simple.

Burr
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

As a side effect, this actually condemns gays who get in sham heterosexual marriages.

Jeff
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

I am definitely taking a wait and see approach to this. However, it is clear that the Mormon Church and its members have been stunned by the tidal wave of negative press and bad publicitiy regarding Proposition 8, the Kiss in SLC, and Apostle Dallin Oaks’ comments comparing the Mormon’s Prop 8 experience to the civil rights movementand the civil rights movement.

The support of the SLC ordinance appears to be a step to immunize the Church and its members from more bad publicity. Mormons posting on other blogs are already citing the church’s support of the SLC ordinance as proof that the church and its members are not bigoted against gays and lesbians.

Jason D
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

So the genetic argument gets you nowhere really.

It really does, Seth, because then we’re lead back to the gay-is-a-disease/disorder argument. Diabetes, cancer, and other diseases have genetic factors. Naturalness isn’t good argumentation, and neither is genetics.

The true test of whether or not a trait is good or bad is it’s harm. Homosexuality harms no one. If, for example, the saliva of men only mixed well with women and that if the saliva of two men mixed it became highly acidic or explosive, then you might make that argument. But no such arguments can be made that apply to only homosexuals or all/most homosexuals. Homosexuality is not, in and of itself, harmful.

Richard Rush
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

The genetic argument is also beneficial because it helps counter a parent’s irrational fear that their child may become gay by associating with gays, or by hearing that being gay is acceptable, thereby planting the idea in their kid that choosing to be gay may be a good idea. While I have no statistics to cite, I believe that the vast majority of parents do not want their kids to be gay.

But the need to rely, in part, on a genetic argument for our social progress is annoying in that we should all be free to make choices that have no harmful impact on others.

Benjamin
November 15th, 2009 | LINK

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a very complex and enigmatic history. Like Carol Lynn Pearson (a poet, writer and former wife of a husband who died due to aids complications) eloquently said that Mormonism (and religion in general) is a double edged sword. Mormonism does have a dark and difficult past while on the other hand it has an incredibly beautiful, fascinating and remarkable past as well. Joseph Smith gave at least two black men the priesthood (including Walker Lewis and Elijah Abel) and he had no intention of ever denying it to any black man of African descent. It was Brigham Young who changed that not many years after Joseph’s death. There is evidence that Brigham Young’s personal strong distaste for interracial marriage (Walker Lewis’s marriage to a white woman) was what drove him to change the policy without common consent of the Church membership and without any official revelation on the subject.

Also Joseph Smith Jr. had ordained the “Anointed Quorum” as the highest officiating body of the Church only a few months prior to he and his brother Hyrum’s murder. That quorum also consisted of women who had been given priesthood to officiate in certain ordinances and their leaders were called High Priestesses. Eliza Snow (one of the leading sisters in the organization) was later known in the Utah territory as “the Prophetess.” Joseph was really stretching and pushing the boundaries of Christian tradition and doctrine during those final years of his short life when he died at age 38.

It is very likely that the LDS Church could change their approach, policies and interpretation of the LDS scriptures at some future time, especially as the rest of the U.S. passes marriage and other equality laws as the U.S. leaves this kind of bigotry in the dustbin of history.

It is interesting that though the Book of Mormon does have those references to the “curse” of the skin of blackness, etc. upon the Lamanites there were times that the Lamanites gained favor with God above the wayward Nephites. There was even a Lamanite prophet named Samuel who called the Nephites to come to Christ and they attempted to murder him but did not succeed. Also the Irony and enigma of the “black skin curse” history in the Book of Mormon there is yet another section that states that “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.(2nd Nephi 26:33)

I’ve even heard several Mormon women read the LDS scriptures during sacrament meeting differently and add the words “and women” whenever men are only mentioned.

I think it is phenomenal that the LDS Church is making these incremental changes. I know they are terrified and afraid of some of these changes. Religious institutions are often afraid of change especially when those changes appear to them to be a threat to their doctrines. I also think they are realizing now that Canada (a nation with several LDS temples and many LDS people) and Massachusetts (also having a temple there) have had same sex marriage now for several years that the sky really has not fallen and that things are better than they thought that they can begin to think a bit more rationally about this. They are acknowledging our existence and that is huge. The most recent conference talks (the few that mention us) are talks wherein LDS apostles still use the words “same gender attracted” but they are obviously reading and listening to LDS families with gay members and the gay members themselves as they are telling them their personal stories. I think they realize too that Evergreen (their version of an ex-gay organization) is not changing gay people to be straight that it is at least keeping them celibate and I think they must realize that Evergreen is often a revolving door for most gay LDS. Celibacy is the most church leaders can hope for in most cases. They often are pragmatic. Things are evolving even if slowly especially with the horrible prop 8 setback. I think they are realizing that it’s just a losing battle that things are eventually going to change anyway.

I have seen many Gay LDS people embrace their sexuality and also seen them eventually be embraced by their LDS families and friends. This happens now more often than it ever did in spite of the fact that there are still too many heart breaking stories to the contrary. The more we embrace who we are the more mature, strong and healthy our community becomes and the healthier we become as individuals. I’ve seen that in many respects in Salt Lake City. It’s a wonderful thing. With groups like Affirmation and especially LDS Reconciliation ldsreconciliation.org there is a lot of good and a lot of spiritual growth happening behind the scenes. LDS Reconciliation is a group I wouldn’t be surprised being contacted by the LDS Church some day as a group that has a great deal of good for the LGBT LDS community and a possible bridge of understanding between the two groups. It’s an amazing experience. We are all growing and I think that our community needs to seriously rejoice over that. There are many setbacks but when you look back and see how far we have come it’s amazing. I’m proud of all of you and the great contributions you have all made in this process. We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but it’s an exciting and awesome journey.

palerobber
November 16th, 2009 | LINK

thanks jim, i think this is a pretty accurate assessment of things.

it will take a long time (the LDS church’s geriacracy means the leadership is roughly one generation older than the country and state’s current political leadership), but change is possible at some time in the future.

truly amazed
November 16th, 2009 | LINK

I was shocked, and thrilled, that LDS Church leaders publicly declared support of some gay rights in a legislative arena. They showed what they consider to be respect, from their perspective, even though it doesn’t really seem so to the rest of the world. It was last August, 2008, BEFORE Prop 8 really exploded and long before the SLC Kiss-ins when LDS leaders first released a public statement in support of certain rights for domestic partnerships.

LDS scripture declares marriage to be between a man and a woman. Part of the LDS gospel includes the stance that scripture does not change (with the exception of the many translations of the Bible over the centuries). The Mormon Church has never changed scripture. When the blacks were allowed to hold the priesthood in 1978, there was no change because there had never been canonized scripture preventing it.

The Mormon Church sees this life as a proving ground where sacrifice is required, as in the case of those attracted to the same sex being asked to sacrifice those relationships to follow the LDS gospel. Most people see that as ridiculous, discriminatory and/or bigotted. I did not. I chose to give up gay relationships for the Mormon Church because I, personally, felt that was the right thing for me to do. Twenty years later, I still feel that way. I realize many others do not. If there is a God, and if God sees no difference between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, then the Mormon Church is wrong–and about 99.9% of the world already believes that Church is wrong. I respect everyone’s right to believe as they wish. I would like to see more respect from both sides of this issue, regardless of how opposed our belief systems are.

Richard W. Fitch
November 16th, 2009 | LINK

It is one thing to question the truth of a belief system held by other; it is quite another to attempt to impose that belief system on others in the form of civil law. If the only justification the LSD church has for its funding of anti-gay civil law is its moral, religious tenants, their actions should be opposed on the grounds of freedom of religion and freedom from religion in the American legal system. Not every religious organization views this issue in the same way. As an Episcopalian, my rights are being infringed upon by not allowing my church to perform marriage between same-sex partners that is permitted for opposite-sex partners. The sacrament of marriage needs to be differentiated from the legal protections (rights and responsibilities) to allow all citizens security in a free society.

John
November 16th, 2009 | LINK

truly amazed wrote:

“Part of the LDS gospel includes the stance that scripture does not change (with the exception of the many translations of the Bible over the centuries). The Mormon Church has never changed scripture.”

I am not mormon, but I believe that this statement is false. Various words and phrases have been changed in the Book of Mormon. I read long posts on exmormon.org where they point out the changes and the dishonesty of labeling all these various versions of the Book of Mormon as First Editions, despite the changes.

Mormons have a group that monitors the internet and posts comments on blogs about Mormon topics. I would guess that “truly amazed” is a member of one of these internet monitoring groups.

cowboy
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

I’m truly amazed at truly amazed.

Mr. Amazed,

Yes…no canonized doctrine was changed by the 1978 “manifesto”. So, why do Mormons still do the Mountain-Meadow-Massacre denial thing and relentlessly think no apologies are in order for how they treated Blacks prior to 1978?

Sacrifice? You think you need to sacrifice a chance at having a loving, a caring relationship with someone? Just so you can do Temple ordinance work?

You’re thinking you have an affliction. What a pity.

I think I chose to be a homo when I was up in the pre-existence. Heteros have it too easy. I think I needed to have more of a challenge in this life than to do the ordinary thing.

I’m grateful for the homosexual I am and I will continue to grateful for the passion and gifts it affords me. Whether at the Pearly Gates or at the feet of Jesus I’ll never feel I have done anything wrong by being the person I am…even by actions that some may feel are abominable.

If my eternal station rests somewhere on a lower tier in Mormon Heaven than those who are heterosexual and sealed for all time and eternity…I’ll probably will be grateful I’m not floating on the same cloud as them.

Ben in Oakland
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Truly Amazed:

If you want your religion to be respected, then maybe it has to start acting respectably.

Timothy Kincaid
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

truly amazed

The Mormon Church sees this life as a proving ground where sacrifice is required, as in the case of those attracted to the same sex being asked to sacrifice those relationships to follow the LDS gospel. Most people see that as ridiculous, discriminatory and/or bigotted. I did not. I chose to give up gay relationships for the Mormon Church because I, personally, felt that was the right thing for me to do.

I honor your decision to live in accordance with your faith. While this is not a decision that I made, I respect that you have chosen a life which gives meaning and provides comfort.

But where we part ways is that you think that the Church is asking you, a member, to sacrifice. I see instead that the Church is forcing me, a non-member in California, to sacrifice.

Your church has every right to appeal to your conscience. It has no right, however, to coerce my acquiescence.

I am not critical of the Mormon Church because it has a belief system different than my own. I am critical of the Church, rather, because it directed its members to contribute tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to take away a basic civil right from me.

And that, amazed, is an evil act.

truly amazed
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

Perhaps it didn’t sound like it, but I was only trying to express my personal beliefs. It may be ridiculous to try and find some sort of civility between both groups as our definitions of civil rights differ. The LDS church leaders based their support on doctrinal beliefs not just about religion but society at large. Others believe marriage between two members of the same sex is no different than marriage between two members of the opposite sex. There is no way to “prove” either of us is right, as there are opposing views of what is right here. It does not seem there is any fair way other than a vote. In time, and in the not so distant future according to polls, the majority in the country will believe same-sex marriage should be legalized and will vote accordingly.

I still see a bigger problem, which will no doubt continue after same-sex marriage is recognized throughout the country. That is that gays and lesbians will continue to be discriminated against, on a personal level in the general public. And, more specifically, there is no way to expect gays and lesbians not to see the Mormon church’s stance on homosexuality as discriminatory. Perhaps my question is, does that mean we keep animosity between us before same sex marriage is legalized and afterward?

John, I am not a member of some “Mormon “internet monitoring group”. I found this site by doing a google search for the recent LDS announcement supporting some gay rights and noticed the title asking if the LDS Church’s incremental steps will lead to bigger changes. I thought I’d answer it according to one person’s LDS perspective. Now I apologize as I realize that is not what was wanted.

Timothy Kincaid
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

amazed,

Please don’t assume that we don’t appreciate your contribution. I am glad you shared your experience.

But in the process you sought to explain or justify your church’s actions. And readers quite naturally seek to refute your justifications and share with you why there is such animosity felt towards the Mormon Church that was not in existence just two years ago.

For example, you seem to equate two opinions in the following paragraph. But, as I discuss below, there was not equal behaviors.

The LDS church leaders based their support on doctrinal beliefs not just about religion but society at large. Others believe marriage between two members of the same sex is no different than marriage between two members of the opposite sex. There is no way to “prove” either of us is right, as there are opposing views of what is right here.

Well then each should leave the other alone. For example, gay people should not try to change laws to disadvantage Mormons, and vice versa.

Gays held up our side, Mormons did not.

If there is no way to prove who is right, then how can you justify your church directing its membership to give tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours to impose their opinion on my life? Surely, if you agree that they may not be right, then the only conclusion is that their decision to coerce me to follow their rules is deeply and truly immoral.

This is the basis for the animosity. Had your church left gay people alone, they would not be finding themselves the subject of fear, contempt, and revulsion. Mormons are not being viewed as narrow-minded authoritarian oppressors because of their beliefs; rather, they are seen as narrow-minded authoritarian oppressors because they seek to impose by force of law those beliefs on others who disagree.

Ben in Oakland
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

” It does not seem there is any fair way other than a vote.”

Fair to whom?

My quite legal civil marriage in no way impacts LDS, Catholics, children, heteros, or anyone but my friends and families.

The mormon church engaged in and supported a series of outright lies: gays-are-gonna-get-your-children, gays are a threat to religion, freedom of religion, speech, family children and on and on and on. That’s fair?

If they were being fair, they would have said: “The mormon Church believes that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman. Those are our religious beliefs, and we believe that civil law should reflect our religious beliefs.”

That’s true, honest, and fair, however misguided. but that is NOT what they did.

I suspect that if the continued existence of the mormon church would put to a fair vote, any place you have a preponderance of christian fundamentalists would soon vote them out of existence.

That’s fair, isn’t it?

Priya Lynn
November 17th, 2009 | LINK

“Truly amazed” said ” It does not seem there is any fair way other than a vote.”.

How is it fair to have a vote when gays are a tiny minority of the populace? Back when blacks were enslaved and white people were the vast majority of the populace would it have been fair to have a vote on whether slaves should be freed?

cowboy
November 19th, 2009 | LINK

Breaking news: arch anti-anything-gay D. Chris Buttars is going to support legislation to protect gays in the workplace and in housing issues…but NOTHING ELSE. He is the Utah State Legislator who has been the most vocal on gay issues in Utah.

Did he get directives from his local LDS Bishop?

Or did that bright light in the sky that occurred the other night was a revelation? (It was a meteor.)

No matter. It’s going to be interesting this coming January when the Legislature is in session.

And might I add a cross-thread comment: This change of heart is not just because of the publicity of “The Kiss on Main Street”. There were many other factors. The anti-discrimination ordinance at the Salt Lake City Council Meeting would have been signed by the Mayor with or without the LDS endorsement.

But, like Andrew Sullivan has opined:

Leadership comes in the unlikeliest places. And when it does, we should thank God and be glad.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/the-mormon-move.html

Doris
November 23rd, 2009 | LINK

The LDS failed to support the common ground initiative and refuses today to support the same ordinances passed in SLC for statewide legislation.

How is this any different behavior? How does this absolve this horrible cult organization from its decades of racial and sex and gender discrimination? How does it absolve its fundamentalist ranch leaders from the incest and pedophilia so rampant among the church’s leaders?

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped and raped by a fundamentalist Mormon. Let’s try to keep this act in proper perspective.

cowboy
November 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Gosh, Doris, how big are your arms to paint such a swath of generalizations? They must be pretty big to hold that brush.

Proper perspective? I certainly doubt the average “Mormon” is in the same group of people that kidnapped Ms. Smart. I don’t get your connection to fundamentalist Mormons and how that is projected onto her mainstream Church.

You realize Sister Elizabeth Smart is now on her way to France to be a Missionary for her “horrible cult”.

And, I’m not aware of rampant incest and pedophilia among the LDS Church leaders. Please cite examples.

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