Mesa May Consider Domestic Partnerships
January 7th, 2009
This would be a welcome surprise:
Arizona’s most conservative big city may become only the third in the state to offer a domestic-partner registry to unmarried couples. Mesa Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh has been exploring the idea and has asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would allow people to register their relationships with the city. “It’s not creating gay marriage,” Kavanaugh said. “The sole purpose is to ensure visitation rights for people who are in unmarried-partner relationships.”
It’s no accident that this measure would be limited to one single benefit: hospital visitations. That’s the same limitation placed on Phoenix’s so-called domestic partnership registry. Tucson’s registry, created in 2003, is a tad more wide ranging, encompassing access to family rates at city park programs and other municipal benefits.
Even so, the mere possibility that Mesa might take up such a measure is a pleasant surprise. Mesa has a reputation for being the bastion of Mormonism in Arizona. It is the home to the oldest LDS Temple in Arizona, and more than one third of all donations made to the Yes on Proposition 102 campaign came from Mesa residents. But the fact that Salt Lake City has a similar registry might provide just enough political cover for this measure to make it’s way though Mesa’s city council. Stay tuned.
Vigil At Mesa, AZ Temple Tonight
November 28th, 2008
I wish I had found out about this earlier:
When Mormons light their massive and colorful Christmas displays tonight on the Mesa Arizona Temple grounds, thousands of candles may burn across the street in a vigil in Pioneer Park.
Vigil organizers call it a demonstration of solidarity for gays and lesbians seeking full civil rights. They say their vigil was precipitated by Mormons’ staunch opposition to same-sex marriage with passage of amendments to constitutions in Arizona, California and Florida in the Nov. 4 general election.
“We are not going to march. It is not a protest. We will have our candles,” said an organizer, Robert Parker, an outspoken gay Mormon from Mesa. Parker hopes to get 5,000 people to assemble in the park “to stand in solidarity with gay Mormons who are stuck in the closet and need to know that we are working to help secure their civil rights.”
Mormons in Arizona contributed at a minimum 40% — some say as much as 80% — of the $8 million raised to pass Prop 102 in Arizona. Prominent Mormons were also at the head of the official “Yes” campaign in support of Prop 102. But for all of that, Don Evans, spokesman for LDS church in Arizona, continues to express surprise at being “singled out”
This constitutional amendment was supported by the Catholic Church, which is far and away the largest church in Arizona, and it was also supported by the various evangelical congregations.” All of those churches consistently opposed same-sex marriages, but “our church has taken the lion’s share of the protest,” Evans said.
The LDS church has taken a lion’s share of the protest because the church took on a lion’s share of the work — running the campaigns as well as using LDS tithing rolls as a fundraising tool among church members. Evangelicals and Catholics, while supportive of the amendments, did not take nearly as prominent a role as the LDS church chose to take.
And when anyone chooses to insert themselves in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, they can expect to experience the political consequences and criticisms of their actions, be they a political party, James Dobson, Swift Boat Veterans, or the Mormon church.
And if any other group had gone in as deeply and as enthusiastically into this political fight as the Mormon church has, they’d be fair game for protests. We could just as easily be targeting General Motors if GM had played the role that the LDS leadership did. But GM didn’t put their reputations on the line and fight to strip people of rights that they already enjoyed. The LDS church did.
And they did it with Big Mormon Money and Big Mormon Organization. In Arizona’s example, they out-spent anti-102 forces by nearly 12-1. They are also under investigation in California for making unreported in-kind donations — providing for free the sort of services that campaigns typically have to pay for. The LDS Church provided free phone-banking, satellite broadcasts, travel, a web site, commercials, and so forth — all of which are reportable under California and Arizona law.
So because of all that, the LDS leaders are now political figures just like anyone else who organizes and executes a political campaign. And because they chose to exercise their rights to do that — and as citizens and under current IRS regulations, it is their right to do so — they are now subject to the same scrutiny and criticisms as any other political figures or organizations.
They have given up their right to be “puzzled” and pretend that they are just another church. They’re not. They are now political activists just like the rest of us. Welcome to our world.
LDS Church Can’t Hide Behind A Temple
Boos and Cheers for a Homecoming King
June 9th, 2008
Eighteen-year-old Kyle Hutchinson accomplished something that no one at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, has ever done before. He was crowned king of the high school prom as an openly gay man.
Kyle’s parents were present when he was crowned king Saturday night amid cheers and boos:
“He kept telling me he was going to win, and he had convinced me,” said his mother, Doreen Hutchinson. “When they called his name, we heard the cheering, but then we immediately heard the boos,” she said. “My heart went into my stomach. It was so awful. My husband said he was expecting it, but I wasn’t prepared. It was so sad.”
Hutchinson said he felt bad that his parents had to hear his classmates who weren’t supporting him. But he also said their reaction is something he has known his whole life, and he wasn’t about to let it ruin his moment.
Kyle said he had always been picked on for not fitting in with the other boys in school. He came out to his parents on his sixteenth birthday, and he moved from his former high school to Red Mountain the following year, he started his first day of class being open about his sexuality. And while Mesa is known for having a large conservative Christian population, Kyle found that he had very few problems until his prom night.
Kyle was crowned king after winning the contest in a landslide, which is perhaps indicative of the changing attitudes among the younger generation — even among young conservative Christians, 80% of whom thought the church was “too anti-homosexual” in one recent survey.