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Vidmar steps down

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

As we reported, the U.S. Olympic Committee had named Proposition 8 advocate Peter Vidmar as its 2012 chief of mission. He has now resigned that commission. (USA Today)

When the Tribune story broke, reaction was nearly immediate — and almost entirely negative — within the USOC. Aimee Mullins, the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Games team, said she was “concerned and deeply saddened” about Vidmar’s past actions.

“The Olympic movement is about promoting equity for all,” she said.

In a statement released Friday evening, Vidmar said, “I have dedicated my life to the Olympic movement and the ideals of excellence, friendship and respect. I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family. I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage.”

I wish his personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction, either. I wish they had not distracted him from being a decent human being instead encouraging him to arrogantly thrust his religion, his opinion, his money, and his time into my life in order to harm me and my community.

I have no sympathy for those who are discovering that their innocent little “stand on the issue” which they were willing to make because of the “call of their church” is now being seen as mean-spirited and based in animus. And not just by the “militant homosexual activists”, but by average everyday citizens. My heart doesn’t bleed in the slightest for those who are finding that doing real harm to real people can have real consequences.

Comments

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Scott
May 6th, 2011 | LINK

It just goes to show all those “lets move on and let the healing begin” Mormons that almost three years later we aren’t over it and we’re not going to forgive and forget.

I think the Coors company can instruct the LDS church about how easy it is to get the gays to drop something important.

TampaZeke
May 6th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, you’re on FIRE bubba!

I don’t know who put the bee in your bonnet lately but I’d like to be the first to thank them! You’re posts today have been amazing (even more so than usual).

Keep up the good work!

TampaZeke
May 6th, 2011 | LINK

You’re = your.

I actually do know the difference. :)

Cowboy
May 7th, 2011 | LINK

So Mormons are not allowed to apply for Mr. Vidmar’s job with the Olympics?

Donny D.
May 7th, 2011 | LINK

I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States.

Religious Right activists are so profoundly dishonest. It isn’t slimebag’s private religious views, but his public activism that’s the problem. But he spins it as people reacting to his own personal religious beliefs, therefore making those who react intolerant bigots and him the poor innocent oppressed one.

“Gee, I wish you hadn’t brought consequences down on me for what I did,” meaning, “gee, I wish I hadn’t gotten caught doing what I did.” It’s the universal lowlife way of thinking: they never do anything wrong, they just get caught.

I guess it must be a shock to them that they can’t kick us down anymore without consequences. And since we deserve the abuse that they give us, when we fight back, we’re the abusers, we’re the evil ones. They never seemed to learn when we just stopped them from doing something to us, so this is what it takes, a general recognition, meaning among many straight people as well as us, that what they are doing is reprehensible in the way that any other bigot’s cruel and discriminatory actions are, and that they can’t expect to be treated as decent, honorable people who should be trusted in positions of power over others. They now are starting to be seen as seamy, disreputable, antagonistic people.

As we claw our way out of the pit of disreputability and pass them as they’re digging themselves down into it, we should ask them how they like it.

Timothy (TRiG)
May 7th, 2011 | LINK

Good!

Good that he’s stepped down. Good description and editorial by Timothy Kincaid of exactly what happened and of how sorry for him we should feel. And good comment by Donny D. too.

TRiG.

JCF
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

So Mormons are not allowed to apply for Mr. Vidmar’s job with the Olympics?

No, Cowboy, ***Prop8 (i.e., bigotry) supporters*** are going to get called out for it!

There are plenty of LGBT-affirming Mormons (who OPPOSED Prop8), and no one holds their religion against them.

Regardless of what Vidmar said, it wasn’t his “personal religious beliefs” that got him in trouble. It was his donation to Prop8 (which, by law, is PUBLIC knowledge).

Hunter
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

Maybe someone should point out to Vidmer and like-minded sorts that when they thrust their “personal” religious beliefs into the public political arena, attempting to force those beliefs on everyone else, they’re not so personal any more.

Hunter
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

Oops! That’s “Vidmar.” I hate it when that happens.

B John
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

We (as in LGBT people) are the oppressors because we are seeking to end his personal religious freedom. I love how they try to spin the message. It’s not unlike the whole marriage thing. They know they can’t actually win by arguing marriage rights, so they morph that whole argument into being about “the children” needing a mommy and a daddy.

Anways…Just imagine if good ole Vidmar had personal views about African-Americans that were less than favorable (oh, say something like Sally Kerns’), and he expressed them, or had made a sizable contribution to the KKK?

First off, most likely he’d never have been given the job, but certainly if he had, the pressure would have been greater to step down. It’s the same thing “Vid.” You put bigoted views out into he marketplace of ideas, and they don’t work so well anymore. Many years ago, you could have said any negative thing you wanted about African-Americans, and it might have even helped you get the job, but society has decided that won’t wash any more. And now we’re moving in that direction on LGBT issues. Sorry you’re behind the times on that one. You work to take away my civil rights, and you made an enemy. Expect to be called out for it.

cowboy
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

So, there are PLEEEEENTY of LGBT-affirming Mormons who meet your criteria so it’s not all-out anti-Mormon bigotry and contributing to the Proposition 8 is like contributing to the KKK.

I see.

Timothy Kincaid
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

Cowboy,

For me, it wasn’t his religious affiliation but his political activism.

I do recognize that holding individuals responsible for their financial sponsorship and political advocacy for Proposition 8 will disproportionately impact Mormons. Yes, Mormons are – more than any other group – finding themselves unwelcome in leadership positions or in roles that interact with the public.

But that is the direct consequence of the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to fund and man the effort. If the LDS Church had not called on its members and had Mormons not responded, then they would not now be experiencing the results of their decision.

Donny D.
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

I think the Olympic Committee is in a state of transition in regard to gay-related issues, and Vidmar got caught in that transition, becoming an unwitting and unwilling part of it. I still believe that the world of sports is one of the most homophobic milieux in existence. But even there there has been change.

Part of it may be that due to lessening homophobia in the Olympic Committee, someone realized that, unlike male team sports, a great many gay people and women who don’t like homophobia are fans of the Olympic.

tavdy79
May 8th, 2011 | LINK

I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States.

I wish that he hadn’t made his personal religious beliefs into a distraction by forcing them onto people of other faiths and none.

cowboy
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid,

I appreciate what you are saying. However, I have some concerns.

Our foes will use this incident with Peter Vidmar as an example of bigotry by the radical homosexual agenda. And you can see where this bigotry can/will only feed on itself.

Then, I can’t extrapolate where Mr. Vidmar would use his position on Proposition 8 as something we should fear with his role in the 2012 Olympics. It’s a sports event where I think sexual orientation is not factor. Should we not expect the same impartiality from Mr. Vidmar as we would expect from Judge Walker who would practice impartiality in his job on the 9th Circuit Court.

Then, I think some may have forgotten the instances that you have reported on the LDS Church here on BTB. I don’t think we in Utah would have had two years of truce with anti-gay Utah Legislators if it were not for some public announcements by authorities in Mr. Vidmar’s beloved Church. I don’t think 11 major cities have enacted anti-discrimination ordinances without a public nudge by the LDS Church.

That’s not to say I give the LDS Church a passing grade. Far from it.

But, we need to be wary of “disproportionate” reactions. We need to be sure we hold the Catholics and those thousands of Evangelicals (who rallied at the San Diego stadium?) some of the same scrutiny for who get to have public office.

Timothy Kincaid
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

cowboy,

Here is my take on each of your important issues:

Perception

Undoubtedly the political anti-gays will add this to their tiny list (El Coyote Restaurant and the Sacramento musical theater) of martyrs. We will be called intolerant, etc. Mostly that doesn’t matter. They would say so anyway and just make up crap if they need to.

And it will further make Mormon citizens feel uneasy and disenfranchised. It will strain relationships.

If the church community views this as gays v. Mormons, then it is a loss for them. But I’m hoping that the church will look down the road and see that in a gays v. Mormon’s PR battle, culture has already taken sides… and it isn’t with them.

Bias

I very much doubt that Vidmar would have instituted or contributed to anti-gay bias. That isn’t the issue. This is not about whether Vidmar is a good guy.

Rather, what is at question is whether campaigning for Proposition 8 is just engaging in the process and supporting one’s views (like, perhaps, the CA proposition to ban the eating of horse meat), or if campaigning for Proposition 8 is extraordinary, an attack on a demographic so inherently unfair that it reflects on the character of those giving thousands of dollars, waving signs, and lending ones name in support by interviews with the press.

There just are not that many cultural flashpoints in ones lifetime, events that change the social and political landscape. I think that Proposition 8 has become one. Unlike the 30 propositions that came before, Prop 8 resonated with the country and, indeed, the world.

And, for good or bad, Vidmar’s activism is seen through that context. History (and increasingly today) and I agree that this as a situation wherein a person took sides, publicly, on an issue with their eyes wide open, knowing why they were doing so and who they were hurting. They just didn’t think it would cost them anything.

Vidmar chose the wrong side. And it is costing him.

LDS Change

The church has changed. Dramatically.

But it has not done so because The Gays quietly said, “oh, gosh, we lost” and went on their way.

The LDS Church changed position because the gay community shone a giant spotlight on the church and on Utah. Society and culture cringed.

It’s extremely hard to expand and reach new converts when the general perception of your group is “that bigot church.” Sure the Southern Baptists didn’t think so, but your target audience – the unchurched but approachable – can’t be thinking that you are evil people who hurt gay folks for fun.

The church changed for two reason: 1) they had to, and 2) a good many Mormons think of themselves as good people, good neighbors, and good for society. They were personally troubled by the real tangible measurable harm there were doing, so they put pressure on the leadership (who also were troubled). Sometimes when decent people find out that they are hurting others, they change.

Evangelicals and Catholics

They didn’t participate on the same level. Considering that these two groups make up the huge majority of the religious folks in the state, they gave less than half the funds and only 10-20% of the volunteers.

And there are some who got the same treatment. I think the boycott continues of Doug Manchester.

However, I think that as NOM is exposed, the spotlight will shift to the Catholic Church.

But it will be on the funders, likely either the church itself or a few very very wealthy people. Very few individuals are involved in the anti-gay marriage industry. Amazingly few – it’s mostly smoke and mirrors on their part.

About a third of Catholics (I’m not sure on Evangelicals) voted against Prop 8. So there is not presumed support there. People won’t find out someone is Catholic and assume they waved “Protect our children from the pedophile homos” signs (perception, not reality).

But Mormons are, for a while, going to carry the assumption that they are anti-gay activists unless proven innocent. Again, this is the direct consequence of the decisions by the church. You can’t wage war on a demographic and then whine when that demographic doesn’t like you.

alternative

Yes some folks will think that we are intolerant. But what is the alternative?

If we say that supporting Prop 8 is okay, that donating $2,000 is okay, that speaking to the press is okay, that waving signs at a rally is okay… then we’ve made it okay.

I don’t want that to be okay.

cowboy
May 9th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid,

Thank you for your reasoned response and insight. I, too, don’t like the gays vs. them generalizations.

John in the Bay Area
May 10th, 2011 | LINK

cowboy,

I am not trying to attack you, and I fear that no matter how I put this out, you may take offense. But here goes anyway.

Your response and concerns about the exposure of Vidmar’s bigotry and the fallout from the exposure strike me as the world view of an abused person. I realize that you live in Utah, and that you struggle with the discrimination and bigotry of the Mormon Church.

People who are abused (mostly women and children) will try to behave in a particular way in order not to be subjected to further abuse. They often internalize some level of responsibility for the abuse being committed against them with thoughts of “if only I didn’t do this or that” to set off the abuser.

It doesn’t matter if the abuse is being perpetrated in the home or in the larger community, the victim is not responsible for the abuse. Being “good” (trying to cater to the whims of the abuser) is not going to ultimately make any difference. The abuser is the one responsible for their actions, not the victims.

The Mormon Church is an organization that is used to bullying. They get away with it regularly, especially in Mormon heavy areas like Utah. I believe that mindset encouraged them to do what they did in California during the Prop 8 campaign. But in California, they only make up 2% of the population (though that didn’t stop them from providing the overwhelming majority of the funding for Prop 8). There may very well be more gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in California than Mormons.

GLBT people fought back and continue to fight back. I honestly think that this surprised the Mormon Church, just as most bullies are surprised when they run accross someone who doesn’t just fold. They aren’t used to people fighting back.

Vidmar deserved to be exposed as the bigot that he is. He is unfit to lead the US national team. This isn’t about the Olympic Committee. This comes down to the sponsors. The US Olympic Committee doesn’t function without the support of Coke, Nike, etc. In a choice between standing by anti-gay bigot Vidmar and risking loss of corporate funding, protecting Vidmar and others who share his bigotry isn’t worth it.

We should not and cannot cringe from the challenge of confronting bigotry and shining bright lights on the bigots out of fear of retaliation from the Mormon Church or other organizations that wish to do us harm. We will not achieve equality for GLBT people in this country (or in any particular state) by sitting around politely hoping for it to come true.

Should the Mormon Church decide to take out their frustrations on gays living in Utah, they will only be further hammered nationally for their bigotry, something they particularly don’t want with Romney and Hunt geering up to campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

enough already
May 10th, 2011 | LINK

There comes a time in each person’s life when that person must chose sides.
One is either a monster or not.

Anyone who supports stripping gays and the transgender of civil and human rights is a monster and deserves to be fought with every single legal weapon available.

If the consequences are that their private lives are ruined, their businesses destroyed, their social status that of a pariah and their families shun them, good. I have no problem with them offing themselves, let their “god” feed upon their vile filth.

Alternatively, they can choose to abandon their hateful practices and behave like humans, not monsters.

No quarter. No mercy. We must make the price for denying us human and civil rights so very high that these monsters leave off attacking us.
Whether by choice or through too heavy losses is irrelevant.

cowboy
May 10th, 2011 | LINK

John ITBA,

I’m not comfortable with giving out too much information about me but I have a close relationship with Mormons. They are my family and I must have daily contact with die-hard Latter-Day Saints who are my co-workers. I get their perspectives and I’m just making sure truth and justice is meted here on BTB. (I’ll take off my Superman cape now.)

I don’t want to get into partisan politics either but it’s Jon Huntsman, Jr. you probably were referencing. In my opinion, Mr. Huntsman is too good for the Republicans. If you do some research you will find he is far more moderate and gay-friendly than most other notable Republicans. Sadly, that’s why he won’t make it as a Republican Presidential candidate for 2012.

I appreciate what you are trying to say. I did come ‘out’ rather late in life. My gay friends have all mentioned the vestiges with the religion of my youth are still rather strong.

But, I don’t give the LDS Church a free pass either. Though they are trying to change their image from the past, there is strong undercurrent racism still evident in the Mormon Church and I don’t think Mormons will ever completely accept their gay Saints…at least not in my lifetime.

If you are familiar with Mormon theology you might appreciate this: I believe I was sent here from our pre-existence as gay and ‘whatever principles of intelligence I obtain in this life will rise with me in the Resurrection’ and that means I’ll probably will remain gay in Heaven. I’ll be ‘perfected’ but I’ll still be gay. (I’m hoping for a “Hemsworth” sort of perfection.)

Grant
May 10th, 2011 | LINK

Amen and well put Timothy.

Timothy Kincaid
May 11th, 2011 | LINK

John IBA,

I want to weigh in on a side point.

I doubt that Vidmar is a bigot. As a gymnast, I suspect that he knows and has developed friendships with gay people and genuinely values them.

I would even hesitate to call Vidmar’s views as bigoted, necessarily. A good many supporters of Prop 8 were simply behaving with prejudice and presumption of superiority, rather than out of malice.

Prejudice on this issue often is nothing more that accepting what has ‘always been believed’ without question and can be more a reflection on the culture and beliefs of a community than it is on the goodwill of the person. “Bigotry” asserts a motivation that for many simply isn’t there. (Though it does become difficult to see large contributions and media advocacy as having no element of animus).

I see it as counter productive to point at Vidmar and scream “Bigot!” He doesn’t see himself as a bigot so it doesn’t advance his thinking, society doesn’t equate supporting Prop 8 with bigotry and thus thinks that we are overreacting, and it isn’t really necessarily accurate.

But it is valuable to say that his prejudices obviously direct the way he views and treats gay people and that he has proven his inability to see all people as equal. This disqualifies him from a position of leadership in any Olympic Team that values its gay athletes.

Otherwise, I think your comment has some very convincing argument.

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