UU Mormon

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT rights

As I was aimlessly kicking around the Bloggernacle this morning I happened upon this post about using the National Organization for Marriage’s webform to send an email to New York legislators urging them to support same-sex marriage.

Now normally I wouldn’t consider using an organization’s website to send a message that’s the opposite of what they stand for because it’s, well, wrong. Maybe not as wrong as, say, denying people’s civil rights, but still wrong.

But then I saw how easy they made it.  You fill out one little form and it sends your letter to just about every person in the state of New York, plus your own state senator, which they figure out for you based on your zip code.  And the letter so readily lends itself to supporting same-sex marriage (my deletions in strikethrough and additions in bold)–

Dear [recipient],

I strongly urge you to oppose support the same-sex marriage bill if and when it comes up to a vote in the Senate.

Marriage isn’t about discrimination or exclusion, or just a package of government benefits (and occasional penalties). Throughout history, marriage has been a long-term, public, sexual union between a man and a woman. Why? Because these sexual unions are unique in their ability to produce children — even unintentionally in many cases.  Marriage is about forming committed, stable families — the foundation upon which a healthy society is built. 

Government has no business determining who I love — but it does have an interest in making sure that as many kids as possible get to know and be loved by their own mother and father. No same-sex union can do this for a child.  are well-cared for by loving parents. Same-sex marriage will create opportunities for more children to grow up in stable homes, especially those whose biological parents are unable to care for them. 

The threat to religious freedom — and the utter refusal of gay marriage groups to accept any substantive protections for people of faith — is another major concern. For years, gay marriage activists have argued under the banner of tolerance, but now want to silence any opposing views. Examples of religious groups being forced out of the public square have already begun to crop up as Catholic Charities across the country are forced to give up their adoption license, a religious group in New Jersey is denied tax exemption for refusing to recognize civil unions, and people   Many priests, pastors, and ministers are now barred from practicing their faith in performing marriages for their LGBT congregants. No person of faith should face professional sanction for their religious beliefs. And no one religious group should be able to impose its beliefs on another. 

Please, there are other ways to protect the legitimate needs of same-sex couples of churches whose beliefs preclude them from recognizing same-sex marriage.  They have the right to live as they choose, but not to redefine marriage for all of us. Please vote no yes on same-sex marriage.

So, yes, I gave into temptation and filled it out.

I didn’t really want NOM to have my contact info, but I also didn’t want to use a fake name or address, because it was a sincere message. I settled on leaving out a digit in my address. When I went to submit the email it caught the mistake and asked me to fix it.

Well… okay.

After I corrected my address it took me back to the page to preview my letter — where it now thanked me for registering and called me by name in big, bold letters —  and… uh oh, it had reverted back to the original version.  I was about to send a “vote no” letter to all those people!  I panicked and hit cancel (because, you know, if you don’t act fast it’ll just send itself), then futilely tried to see if there was a way to delete my shiny new NOM account, then got the heck out of there.

So there we are.  I didn’t send a letter to anybody, but now I’m on NOM’s mailing list.

That’s karma for you.

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I’ve been a fan of Orson Scott Card for many years.  I’ve enjoyed his books, read his columns and forums, and gotten great recommendations from him (it’s thanks to him I discovered my beloved Firefly).  I’ve tended to steer clear of his political posts though, because they’re so strident, even to the point of arrogance.  It’s always amazed me how indisputably right he believes he is.

One of the things that Card knows he is unquestionably right about is that our society’s viability depends on its basis in the 1950s style nuclear family.

American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Part of protecting marriage is making sure that LGBT people understand that they don’t have a valid place in society and must suppress or hide their sexuality.

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those whoflagrantly [sic] violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

So should gays become accepted in our culture or gain rights to marriage, it would fracture stable families and lead to the collapse of our society.  We would be left to flounder in the same social chaos as, say, Canada.  Or Belgium.

Honestly, I never gave gay marriage much thought before Proposition 8, and my support for gay rights was actually a byproduct of the main issue that I had with that whole fiasco.  See, what upset me, primarily, was that the church leaders invoked their authority as God’s spokesmen to influence a civil election.

Initially I tried to defend the church.  “The prophet didn’t tell people to vote for prop 8,” I said, “He just encouraged them to vote for it and donate their time and money…”  As my husband then pointed out, what’s the difference? He’s the Prophet.  You obey the Prophet.  Every child in Primary knows that much.  It made me uncomfortable to think that there might have been people out there who voted for something they wouldn’t have otherwise, who gave money to a cause they wouldn’t have supported, who went door to door and made phone calls because their church leaders told them to, not because they were inspired to by their political convictions. Especially since I heard church members express ambivalence with phrases like “I don’t see what the harm would be in allowing them to marry, but church leaders say…” and “I know I’m supposed to be against gay marriage…”

A recent column by Card in the Mormon Times talks about a group of young people who were active in the campaign for Proposition 8. He says they were raised to reject bigotry, and many had close friends who were gay. He compares the pain they underwent in supporting prop 8 with that of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac.

To their friends, these young Latter-day Saints seemed like any other bigots, and friendships ended or were severely damaged. Sometimes harder to bear was the self-questioning, for during their many phone calls to strangers, they ran across vehement supporters of Proposition 8 who were haters and bigots.

What am I doing on the same side of the issue as these pitiable people, these young single Saints asked themselves.

Yet they had faith in the gospel, in the prophets, in the “Proclamation on the Family.” And they acted on that faith, at great personal cost.

I am not wrong to compare them, or some of them at least, with Abraham, who was asked to violate everything he had fought for by sacrificing his son, or with the early church members who were shocked to find that they were expected to practice plural marriage.

These young people sacrificed friendships, some of their values, maybe even their consciences.  For the sake of obedience.

Card finds this praiseworthy.  If it’s true, I find it tragic.  And scary.  Do we really place so much value on obedience that it’s a virtue to do something that we believe is wrong because a certain group of men says it’s God’s will?

When my own state had a mean-spirited marriage amendment on the ballot I was relieved that it didn’t get any attention from the church (probably because they figured it would pass easily, which it did). No statements were read from the pulpit, so I was free to vote my conscience.  Yes, I actually believed that the “right” thing to do would be to vote however the church wanted me to, even if I disagreed with their position.  I don’t think I would have changed my vote; I think I would have still voted my conscience, but I certainly would have felt guilty about it.  And if I had voted the way I had been told to, voted for something I felt was wrong, I certainly would have felt guilty about that too.

I’ve been told by some (probably — hopefully — not representative) church members that if your conscience tells you something that is in opposition to what the Prophet says, then you’re in error and have been deceived by Satan.  So don’t trust what your heart tells you about right and wrong, listen to the Prophet.  And if it turns out that the Prophet tells you to do something that is wrong, he will bear the responsibility for it, not you, so you’re covered.

Think through that line of reasoning for a bit.  And imagine if 5 million people in the United States actually believed it and applied it beyond personal belief issues to political and social action.

Prop 8 has been nearly as controversial and polarizing within the church as without.  The church’s position has caused contention within wards, it has caused shame in church members, it has inspired acts of defiance by local leaders. All of which I find reassuring.  It means people are thinking.  Some may have sacrificed their consciences, but many others — on both sides of the issue — haven’t.

And that’s far more virtuous than obedience for its own sake.

For an eternal verity abides beneath diversities; we are children of one great love, united in our one eternal family.

— W. Waldeman W. Argow

The minister on Sunday talked about creating “a broad universalism,” that beneath all our religious and political and philosophical differences we’re all the same.  Every person has inherent worth and dignity and is deserving of respect.

The words are different than I’m used to (one of the good things about going to a different church– you think more deeply about a concept when the language is varied) but the idea is familiar… We’re all children of God, every person is of infinite worth, we are all brothers and sisters, we should love and serve one another.

She introduced a new UU theme for the year — Standing on the Side of Love.  At the Equality March on October 11 UUs wore bright yellow t-shirts with the slogan.   ssl

To start off with, though, she talked about why a broader universalism is needed, why we need to speak our minds with greater respect and kindness.   She talked about the current pervasiveness of meanness and hate.

A Baptist pastor in Tempe, Arizona preached a sermon to his congregation called “Why I Hate Barack Obama,” saying that he prayed for the death of the President and hoped he would burn in hell.

I read another article recently that said the Secret Service may be relieved of its treasury department duties in order to focus on protecting government leaders.  Threats against the president are up 400 percent compared to the Bush administration (and I suspect it’s not because President Bush was so widely beloved).

A childhood friend of mine recently sent me a note thanking me for the political posts I’ve made on on my Facebook page.  She said it renewed her faith in humanity to see them.  More specifically, it renewed her faith in Mormons.  Another LDS person she knew had been posting anti-Obama sentiments in her status updates that my friend considered hateful, and this person seemed to connect these sentiments with her religion.  My friend was starting to make judgments about Mormons and the religion as a whole based on these hateful messages, and she was grateful that I reminded her not all Mormons think that way.

I didn’t tell her that her other friend may (or may not, I don’t know) be more representative of Mormons than I am, since I’m distinctly unorthodox.

It hurts me that my church and its members are adding to the divisiveness and polarization that’s going on right now. The LDS religion teaches that “broad universalism” and yet… Glenn Beck’s books are prominently displayed in church-owned bookstores, and there’s that whole Proposition 8 thing…

I’ve heard a few reasons for the strenuous efforts of the church in the campaigns to deny or revoke the rights of gays to marry, and basically they come down to these two things:

1) God says marriage should be between a man and a woman (or, in the eternities, women)

2) Gay marriage would infringe on the free exercise of religion

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently gave a speech comparing the backlash against the Mormon involvement with the Prop 8 campaign to the voter intimidation of blacks in the South during the Civil Rights movement, and warning that religious freedom is in danger.  He was, I can only assume, trying to play on the Mormon persecution complex to bolster the determination to oppose gay rights, i.e. if people hate us for it, we must be right.  Us vs Them.  If they have rights, ours will be taken away.

And ours are more important.  He said:

But unless the guarantee of free exercise of religion gives a religious actor greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to all actors by other provisions of the constitution (like freedom of speech), what is the special value of religious freedom? Surely the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion was intended to grant more freedom to religious action than to other kinds of action. Treating actions based on religious belief the same as actions based on other systems of belief should not be enough to satisfy the special place of religion in the United States Constitution.

While church leaders continue to build higher the battlements in the war of values and supremacy of rights, they are also emphasizing civility in public discourse.  We need to be polite to those we’re working against and the people whose rights are less important than ours.

The word I’m not hearing in any of this is “love.”   Is the great commandment “love one another,” or is it “legislate ‘moral’ behavior”?   What is the more compassionate course of action?

LDS science fiction author and board member of the National Organization for Marriage, Orson Scott Card claims that a society that recognizes gay marriage will crumble.   For all I know he may be right — I don’t believe he is, but I don’t know. But my conscience tells me that the current situation is unacceptable, especially in the church (see the stories of gay Mormons and the suicide list at ldsapology.org).  Even if I might be making a mistake I would rather err on the side of compassion, on the side of love.

Perhaps I should get the t-shirt.