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Posts for April, 2013

Guess who likes the proposed “no gay adults” Scouts policy

Timothy Kincaid

April 26th, 2013

mormonscoutI am not a fan of the new proposed policy of the Boy Scouts of America relating to sexual orientation. The change, which would allow gay youth to participate but ban any positive gay role models, seems to me to be little better than the current policy.

But there is one group who likes the new proposal: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons): (NBC)

“We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues. We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future,” the LDS church said Thursday in a statement posted to their website.

“The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the ongoing dialogue, including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God.”

This welcome should not surprise us as it mirrors the most recent shift in Mormon approach to sexual orientation. The Mormon Church now welcomes and even has an outreach to gay people. With a caveat. You can be gay, but you have to behave heterosexually. The church has been trotting out examples and spokespeople who declare the joys of being married to a person of the opposite sex while also recognizing that they are homosexually oriented.

And that will be what the Scouts will be expected to teach. That ‘single standard of moral purity’ will be clear: abstinence until marriage to a woman. And there won’t be any of those complicating factors brought up by actual real gay people participating.

This, of course, will solve nothing.

Sure some boys will be able to get their Eagle Scout badges without hiding their identity (provided that they haven’t turned 18). And the policy change may even allow some sponsors the excuse they need to continue or resume giving. But the core problem will remain the same: the churches and civil organizations that serve as scout sponsors are not in agreement over the issue.

The Mormons may delight in a policy that says that you can have a same-sex attraction but never act on it, but many Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians will not. In fact, those churches who have quietly set policies that banned discrimination and who have at times quietly allowed gay leaders may feel even more pressured by this change. This ‘compromise’, one that asks almost nothing of anti-gay Scout groups in the way of teaching and inclusion, may be used to force those more supportive troops to abide by this ‘single standard’.

The Scouts were considering a policy that would allow conscience and thought to guide the various troops. Much in the way that troop vary on issues such as the divinity of Christ, the nature of God, and whether or not you will be given your own planet to rule over when you die, the issue of whether God approves or disapproves of gay people would be up to the teaching of the individual sponsors.

Instead they are now opting for conformity. You may disagree over whether being “morally straight” allows alcohol, tobacco, and dancing. You can disagree over whether your troop members will wear a yarmulke. You can disagree over the Trinity, over what is acceptable language in society, even – it seems – over masturbation. But you must agree that gay men are a morally inappropriate example for gay youth.

And that is something that many scouting troops will not support.

When polled on the gay ban, half of the administrative local counsels recommended keeping the ban. But thirty-eight percent said it should change. They either believe that gay youth and men should be allowed to participate, or they are sick of the bad press.

So the leadership opted for a change that is not a change. A solution that solves nothing.

The bad press isn’t going away. Under this new policy, Tim Griffin would still be barred from working at Camp Winton. Jennifer Tyrrell would still be excluded as a den mother. And Ryan Andresen still won’t get his Eagle Badge.

And the confrontation with mainstream churches will not disappear. St. James in the City will continue to ban discrimination. And the gay and lesbian pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will continue to be offended by policies that bar them from participating in their own church’s troop. And many of the thirty-eight percent will see this move as a pittance, a pretense at inclusion.

Where do the Mormons stand on the gay scouting issue?

Timothy Kincaid

February 4th, 2013

I’m sure most Turtlers who read that headline think they know the answer and that it isn’t pretty. But I’m not sure it’s all that clear. (New York Times)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout troops than any other church, has deferred comment on the proposed change. But even if gay scouts were allowed into Mormon-sponsored troops, the same church membership rules would apply as they do now, a church spokesman said.

Gay and lesbian Mormons are welcomed into the church, the spokesman said, but must follow the same rules as heterosexual Mormons. That means no sex outside marriage, and in Mormon doctrine, same-sex marriage is not recognized as legitimate — even in states where it is legal.

To allow gay youth into a Mormon troop might not be all that much of a challenge. If there’s simply a ‘no boinking’ rule (as opposed to the ‘no existing’ rule favored by many opponents of our community) then it’s not more of an impediment to the good Mormon gay boy than it is to the good Mormon straight boy.

And considering their newfound support for gay Mormons – provided that they marry someone of the opposite sex – it would not surprise me to see them welcome as scoutmaster that peculiar oddity, the openly gay Mormon living as a straight man.

And now from the Mormons in New Zealand

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2013

Like much of the planet this week, marriage is being debated in New Zealand. Here’s a bit from that front:

Meanwhile, Michael Roberts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the committee that redefining marriage will have a negative impact on families, children and society.

Green MP Kevin Hague put it to Mr Roberts that the Mormon church has already redefined marriage by banning its former practice of polygamy.

After a lengthy pause, Mr Roberts said the ban resulted from the law “asking us to reconsider that”.

Identifying your (dwindling) opposition

Timothy Kincaid

January 4th, 2013

On NomBlog, the National Organization for Marriage describes a letter issued in opposition to equality as “An extraordinary show of support for true marriage by a wide spectrum of faith communities in Illinois”. But that letter illustrates just how narrow that spectrum has become.

There are a variety of signatories on the bottom, but the logos atop the letter tell the story.

Our denominational opposition in Illinois consists of:

* Catholic Conference of Illinois
* Anglican Church in North America
* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
* The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
* The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod

That may seem like a “wide spectrum” at first glance, and quite diverse, but when you look closer it reveals how few denominations have signed on to oppose civil marriage in the state. Our opponents are the Catholic hierarchy (lay Catholics support equality), Mormons, Muslims, and two Protestant denominations: the churches that left the Episcopal Church when she became pro-gay, and the smaller of the two major Lutheran churches (the other blesses same-sex unions).

It can no longer be said that the battle over civil marriage is between the gay community and people of faith. Far too many in the religious community have either disengaged or defected to our side.

- TK

Salt Lake Trib’s Utahns of the Year: Mormons Building Bridges

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2012

In June, Erika Munson, a straight church-going Mormon wife and mother decided that saying you love doesn’t mean crap if you don’t show it. So she decided that she would march in Salt Lake City’s Gay Pride March. And after she tossed her idea on the internet, a few other Mormons decided to join her. Three hundred of ‘em. They came straight from church in their Sunday clothes with kids in strollers waving gay flags.

Now the Salt Lake Tribune has recognized Mormons Building Bridges as the most impactful Utahns of 2012:

They called themselves Mormons Building Bridges. They were not out to debate politics or doctrine, organizers said, but to promote love and listening. Still, their simple yet potent gesture echoed around the globe, setting an example for fellow believers who then took up the style, if not the name, in 15 other Pride parades. They also attracted national and international media attention, well-known enough even for spoofing in the satirical magazine The Onion.

Cuz it burns the eyes of poor Mormon babies

Timothy Kincaid

August 24th, 2012

NBC’s fall lineup includes The New Normal, a show bearing the tag-line “She’s having their baby”.

Bryan and David are a Los Angeles couple, and they have it all. Well, almost. With successful careers and a committed, loving partnership, there is one thing that this couple is missing: a baby.

And so they look for a surrogate and find Goldie. And, apparently, family and friends and somebody or other’s precocious child and a sitcom set and what is probably a banal storyline, but I digress. Yes, I will watch this thing and hope that it’s better than I fear.

But the good Mormons in Salt Lake City will most definitely NOT be watching! Cuz watchin Teh Ghey is most unholy. And God’s gunna poke your eyes out. And watching that unholiness is like pouring holy water on a demon, it burns!

Or something along that line.

SL Tribune:

NBC’s “The New Normal” won’t air on KSL this fall. The prospect of two gay men having a baby proved too much for the LDS Church-owned station.

“From time to time we may struggle with content that crosses the line in one area or another,” said Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL’s parent company, Bonneville International. “The dialogue might be excessively rude and crude. The scenes may be too explicit or the characterizations might seem offensive.”

Or it might have Teh Ghey!!

Of course, it’s also possible that the Church is just being petty. Bryan is played by Andrew Rannells, who is best known for his role on Broadway in The Book of Mormon, a musical parody of religion and musicals from the guys who created South Park.

But should you like in Utah and happen to have eyes that are impervious to watching Teh Gheys, if you were able to make it through eight seasons of Will and Grace with corneas intact, should you be brave enough to chance this threat to your eternal soul, you will still have a chance. Channel 30 is picking up the slack:

“We will air it on the weekends” on Channel 30, said Matt Jacquint, general manager of KUCW and KTVX. “We’re looking for a time slot right now.”

KUCW carries NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” and often picks up sports programming when KSL pre-empts it for General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sacto Scouts: we fired him for looking and acting gay, not for being gay

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2012

The administrators within the Boy Scouts who try and enforce their anti-gay policy must all have been bitten by the SayStupidThings bug. Because repeatedly they open their mouths and out comes nonsense that is just about guaranteed to make them look oppressive and out of touch.

Take, for example, the Golden Empire Counsel in the Sacramento area which operates Camp Winton, southeast of Lake Tahoe.

In July, the national council reaffirmed their “no gays allowed” policy. So 22 year old Tim Griffin, an nine-year employee, asked the program director what they could do about it.

Well, it seems that what they could do about it was to fire Tim. But, perhaps not wanting to look like bigoted troglodytes, they decided that another explanation was better.

The Golden Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America recently found it necessary to dismiss an individual from his position on camp staff due to an issue with performance, violation of expected camp behavior and camp standards.

As this is a personnel matter, I am not a liberty to discuss details but I can tell you that, contrary to other reports, this incident has nothing to do with our membership policy. The camp director has no knowledge of this individual’s sexual orientation. As our policy indicates, the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members.

And as for that “expected camp behavior and camp standards”,

Glen Goddard, program director for the Golden Empire Council, told The Sacramento Bee that Griffin was dismissed because he refused to adhere to uniform guidelines.

At issue were the nail polish and earring Griffin wore, although someone also had complained about his mannerisms, Goddard says.

It’s not that he’s one of them there homoSEXshulls, nosirree, it’s cuz he looked and acted like one of them there homoSEXshulls.

I’m sure that they thought that would be the end of it. Well, not exactly. Because that explanation – while it might sound scary on the news (ooooh, fingernail polish! girly! girly! girly!) – it didn’t fly with his fellow scout employees who also were wearing fingernail polish (presumably to object to the ban). In fact, a third of the other employees – including his supervisor – quit in protest. And then went on change.org and started a petition with a somewhat different explanation:

Tim was loved not only by his fellow camp staffers, but all of the Boy Scouts who participated in programs he ran at the camp. The Golden Empire Council claims he was fired because he violated the camp’s dress code. But as his direct supervisor at the Camp Winton, I know this isn’t true. He was fired because of his sexual orientation. The men who fired Tim haven’t even stepped foot on Camp Winton this summer.

And now that about 80,000 people have signed their petition, they caught the attention of the local Fox News affiliate. In an interview with Tim and his supervisor the “no, no, no it was his nail polish” explanation seemed, well, absent of any truth. Instead what appears is that some scoutmasters didn’t like that Tim “presented himself” as too gay and wrote the council to complain. (And I think it’s fair to guess that it wasn’t the Methodists)

But, in response to all the press attention, the Golden Empire Council has decided to double-down on their explanation.

Contrary to media reports, the Golden Empire Council did not remove this camp staff member because of his sexual orientation or the BSA’s membership standards policy

Because why look like a bigoted troglodyte when you can look like a stupid lying bigoted troglodyte that kowtows to one church.

Utah values

Timothy Kincaid

August 13th, 2012

The Democratic candidate for Governor of the great state of Utah has clarified that he doesn’t support Democratic values. He supports Utah Values. Ya know, the ones that are passed down from the Prophet. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke launched a pre-emptive strike Monday, distancing himself from his party’s national platform, declaring his opposition to gay marriage, civil unions and abortion and vowing to represent “Utah values.”

Cooke said his opposition to gay marriage stems from his faith ­— he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has actively opposed same-sex unions in California and elsewhere — but he supports a state law that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, which the church has also supported.

“To me gay marriage is part of my religious belief and I support that and I respect other religious beliefs and I support and love those who are in the gay community,” Cooke said. “I think what needs to be done in Utah is for us to all live together, be compassionate. That’s what the Democratic Party is showing.”

Well, okay, I guess that’s to be expected. It is Utah, after all.

But I’m not so sure that “I promise to vote how the church tells me” is that compelling of a position for politicians anymore. At some point people just get tired of being told that their church will do the thinking for them. And it seems to me that the Mormons may want to take a little glance at their buddies the Catholics and recognize that the more that church leaders insist on dictating politics, the more their flock feels comfortable with ignoring what they have to say.

And maybe, just maybe, Cooke could have grown a pair and used this to his advantage. He could have said that unlike Republican Governor Gary Herbert, he stands for gay families. He could have championed civil unions (or some other form of couple recognition) – as do 71% of Utah’s residents. And had he done so he, he might have stood out as the candidate more in line with “Utah values.”

From Mormon Bishop to LGBT Ally

Jim Burroway

July 16th, 2012

The “Aha”  moment for Kevin Kloosterman, who was a sitting Mormon Bishop in Illinois, came from re-runs of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy:

As is sometimes typical for Mormons on a variety of issues, I was late.  I didn’t see it until a year or two ago, when it went into syndication. …I would watch the show and imagine what it would be like for them to be in a Mormon bishop’s home, which is probably considered the heart of enemy territory by some in the gay community since Proposition 8. There was something about the spirit of these men that seemed to break barriers of orientation, politics, and even religion. Perhaps like every other fan, I considered them to be more familiar than reality would dictate. Then something that Carson said in his cheeky manner struck me like a thunderbolt.  He said, “We are very pro traditional marriage.” Those words echoed in my mind for months and months. It seemed to disrupt and challenge a deeply held belief that the traditional family was under attack by a so called “gay agenda.”

That belief was dismantled at that moment and I realized that these good men had no desire to hurt me, my marriage, or my family. On the contrary, if they were in my home, I could only see them supporting me, my traditional marriage, and my family.

At some point, Kloosterman began familiarizing himself with LGBT issues, where he found himself “quite frankly embarrassed at how little I knew or understood. When I heard last summer of three separate violent attacks on gay men in Utah, I could no longer shake my head and say “how awful.” I could no longer be silent.” The chronology in Kloosterman’s essay isn’t exactly clear, but at some point he flew to Salt Lake City to try to engage his fellow religionists to reach out and do more for the LGBT community:

When the story broke that a sitting bishop had flown from Illinois to Utah to call for straight members to do more to reach out to LGBT individuals in and out of the church, the two major newspapers in Utah saw the talk in radically different ways, which created controversy. The reaction continued to be mixed as the story moved to talk radio. Mormons of the more conservative variety called for me to be excommunicated. There was one extremist blog even wishing “apostates could be executed” juxtaposed with my name, my wife’s name, our home address and work address for all to see as well as calling for “blood atonement,” which is primitive Mormon talk for execution.

Kloosterman filed a police report on the blog and it was taken down soon after.

Kloosterman spoke at the first “Circling the Wagons” Mormon pro-LGBT conference which took place in Salt Lake City in in 2011. You can find a video and a written transcript of that talk here. He came under fire for using the word “atrocity” to describe the experiences of gay Mormons after hearing their first-hand accounts.

Fred calls it quits

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2012

Fred Karger has finally concluded that he is not going to win the Presidency this year. Okay, he knew it on the day he filed, but that was never his goal anyway. Fred just wanted a chance to challenge thinking about who can or cannot be gay and who can or cannot be a Republican.

Fred never reached his stated goal of debating the other Republican candidates in a televised debate. But that was because the Party and the media cheated. (And really, isn’t it disgusting that the mainstream media so dismissed him simply because he is gay while they got all in an excited gigglefest about other zero-chance candidates. No mainstream news channel called out the organizers when they refused Fred even though he met their stated standards.)

But Fred did do an amazing job of reaching people with his message. His novelty caught the attention of newspapers across the nation and many a teenager for the first time realized that a gay person could run for President. And he also provided that element which called out people on their BS. From the minor local Party people who had to ask themselves whether they really did have an objection to gay people running for office and, if so, what it was exactly to the raging homophobes who exposed themselves as such and now will soon experience the outcome of public hatred.

But Fred’s campaign – more of a gay PR campaign than a political one – is over.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA – “After 2 ½ years of campaigning as a candidate for President of the United States I am officially ending my historic campaign today June 29, 2012. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I want to thank the thousands of people across this country who volunteered, contributed, opened their homes, came to our events and cheered me on. Special thanks to the thousands more who shared their stories with me in person, via email, facebook, twitter, etc. Every one of you kept me going.

It’s been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve made many new friends and undoubtedly picked up a few more detractors. I hope and trust that my discussion of the key issues helped to open dialog on fixing the economy, balancing the federal budget, creating jobs, education reform, the environment, immigration reform, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and fighting for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We must move forward on these issues and many more.

A big thank you goes out to our incredible campaign team, most of whom have been around for nearly the entire 2 ½ years. Your dedication, spirit and great ideas made all the difference.

I plan to rest up for awhile and then I will be back at it to help in the fight for LGBT equality. We will let you know as soon as our exact course is determined.

Here at BTB we have a soft spot for Fred. Maybe it’s because when I met him, his first words were, “I was on the Turtle Box today looking up something on Uganda.” Maybe it’s because when you are on the ballot, the media can’t refuse to run advertisements like this one.

Or maybe it’s because he really is a charming dorky gay nerd who reached the highest levels of political involvement (he was a Presidential advisor) and was willing to spend a big chunk of his own money to try and help out kids out there in the red states who desperately need to know that they can grow up to be anything they want to be, including charming dorky gay nerd Presidents.

Mormons for Marriage in Washington

Timothy Kincaid

June 12th, 2012

We will win our battle for equality. And when we do, many of those who do not support us today will be cheering.

The irony is that equality is a value that people believe in and the exceptions made so as to disenfranchise gay people from our place in the social fabric are flimsy and it is only prejudice and tradition and ignorance that allow them to sound reasonable.

And those who live their lives under a structure of faith-based love are rapidly discovering them to be contrary to what they believe. As they come to join us, they will so because of their faith – not despite it – and will advocate with religious fervor and zeal.

Religion Dispatches interviewed Sara Long and Scott Holley about what led them to become pro-gay Mormons and their efforts towards equality in Washington State. I found about eight things I wanted to copy and write about here – which was about the whole interview and way too much – so you have to go read it yourself.

But the heart of it lies in this:

SL: Yes, when my children grow up I want them to look back and know that I did something during this civil rights effort. I want to make it clear that I did everything I could to advocate for equality.

[Note: above corrected: "...they will so not because of their faith - not despite it..."]

The Mormons are coming to Gay Pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2012

I guess they really liked marching in Salt Lake City, cuz the Mormons are breaking out their marching shoes. (WaPo)

This summer, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from around the country will be marching in LGBT pride parades in nine cities, including in DC’s Capital Pride parade on June 9, an act that participants say is motivated not in spite of Mormon teaching, but out of obedience to Jesus’ message.

Some will be there in full support of gay rights, including marriage equality. Others will be there just because they think their church has failed to be loving enough. But for whatever reason, they are there to support, not convert, condemn, or push ex-gay ministries. Unlike the evangelicals who occasionally set up a card table in some gay neighborhood because they “have a heart for the homosexual”, the Mormons are coming just to say, “hey, love your parade, love you, gimme a gay flag and I’ll wave it.” They aren’t even worried that they might be “supporting a sinful lifestyle”.

Some of us may still be hurt from 2008, but I think we should greet the Mormons with a big smile and a thank you. Their idea of “support” may not be ideal, but neither were the Episcopalians or the Democratic Party in 1986, and this is a very big step for them.

So when the Mormons come down the street with signs saying “Jesus said to love everyone” and “LDS hearts LBGT” with their dozen or so blond children waving rainbow flags, let’s give them some love in return. The last time Mormons organized around a gay issue, it was a very different message; I like this one a whole lot more.

300 Straight Mormon Allies March in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade

Jim Burroway

June 4th, 2012
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It was a diverse group of Mormons (well, diverse as far as Mormons in Utah go) that showed up to march in Sunday’s Pride Parade in Salt Lake City:

The group, Mormons Building Bridges, said they wanted to send a message of love to the state’s LGBT community, a message they believe is compatible with their faith.

Emily Vandyke, 50, carried a sign with the words from an LDS children’s song: “I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you.”

Several blocks along the parade route, she embraced a tall woman weeping at the edge of the crowd who said, “Thank you.”

“I haven’t recognized them as equals,” Vandyke said a few minutes later. “They have been invisible to me.”

Organizers expected about a hundred straight Mormon families to show up. Those expectations were exceeded threefold, with many marchers showing up straight from church in their Sunday best.

Those accounts were carried in the Salt Lake Tribune and spread across the country by the Associated Press. Mormons Building Bridges also got a brief mention from the local CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates, as well as Mormon-owned Deseret News, which carefully spelled out the church’s position on homosexuality.

Mormons marching in Pride

Timothy Kincaid

May 30th, 2012

What do you do when you believe what your church says about love, but you think they aren’t showing it very well to gay people? If you’re Erika Munson, you just decide to show it yourself. It turns out, she wasn’t alone. (SL Tribune)

“I felt that there must be people like me,” Munson said, “who are committed to the church, who believe in the gospel and want to live Jesus’ word, which is, ‘love one another.’ ”

Munson’s group is not affiliated with the LDS Church or any political party, and though it started just a few weeks ago, it’s been gaining steam through social media. As of Wednesday, the group had more than 900 members on Facebook, and more than 100 had committed to Sunday’s march in downtown Salt Lake City.

(that popping noise was an Apostle’s head)

Mormon Families and Friends Have a Message for the Church

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2012

This video was premiered at a conference of LGBT-affirming Mormons that took place in Washington, D.C. over the weekend. The video is sponsored by EmpathyFirstInitiative.org and MormonStories.org. The second web site was founded by John Dehlin, who also founded the Mormons for Marriage web site in 2008 to support marriage equality for LGBT Americans.

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