Happy Birthday, Mormons for Marriage

Four years ago, as hundreds of thousands marched in San Francisco’s Pride Parade, hundreds of LDS bishops stood at pulpits asking Mormons to do all they could to support Proposition 8. Four years later, hundreds of Mormons across the country (and around the world) are stepping out in pride parades in support of and in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

What else has changed in the past four years?

- The Church Handbook of Instructions no longer includes a request that church members should lobby governments to deny same-sex marriage rights (and rites) via legislative actions.

- LDS rhetoric about same-sex marriage rights is shifting to focus on the need to protect religious freedom, rather than the need to protect families.

- The LDS Public Affairs office actually used the term “gay” to describe individuals, rather than-sex attracted or same-gender attracted in its response to HRC’s criticisms of Pres. Packer’s October 2010 conference talk.

- BYU students have created and continue to grow a gay-straight alliance (Understanding Same-Gender Attraction) at a school where once admitting to same-sex attraction was a fast ticket out the door

- Dialogue, a Journal of Mormon Thought published a paper (Toward a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology) exploring what it means to be both homosexual and Mormon.

- The LDS Church came out in support of non-discrimination ordinances in Salt Lake City which would protect homosexuals in housing and employment. While there are large carve-outs for church-related/owned businesses, the ordinances in SLC inspired a number of other Utah and Idaho towns and cities to follow suit and opened many conservative Mormon’s eyes to some problems they’d never before considered.

- Individual Mormons are coming out and telling their own stories – whether they are gay, lesbian, bi, in mixed-orientation marriages, or have family/friends that fit the bill. These discussions are happening on a daily basis in person, in the media, in churches and online as LGBTQ members and allies find one another and give each other strength to carry on, both in and out of the church.

- The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) has published a booklet specifically for LDS parents based on FAP’s foundational research on family acceptance and rejection that provides guidance on acceptance and support of their gay children.

- There have been no church-sponsored efforts aimed at mobilizing Mormons to fight same-sex marriage at the polls the way Mormons were mobilized in California in 2008, despite efforts of other religions originally part of the “religious coalition” that supported Prop 8. General church leaders have gone out of their way to make sure all overt same-sex marriage advocacy is being done by local leaders or individuals.

Do we still have a ways to go? Yes, we do. But we are making progress, one step at a time.

Comments
19 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Mormons for Marriage”
  1. Brad Carmack says:

    Great summary Laura, thanks!

  2. Mike says:

    Let’s hear it for progress, one step at a time!

  3. Morris Thurston says:

    Nice summary, Laura. Thanks!

  4. Trevor says:

    Don’t forget the recent Pride parades that have featured Mormon contingents :)

  5. Laura says:

    Yes, Trevor. A clearinghouse site showing where they’ve all been marching or will be marching is mormonpride.org. There are several this weekend, including big ones in Seattle, New York City and San Francisco, and there are a number of others listed at that site – go check them out!

  6. Laura says:

    In late October 2008, just a week or two before the November election, Elder Clayton told the Salt Lake Tribune that

    Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the issue without facing any sanction, said L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy. “We love them and bear them no ill will.”

  7. Laura says:

    Earlier that month, in a satellite broadcast Elder Quentin L. Cook reminded the audience that:

    Please understand that the central message of the Savior is to love all of our brothers and sisters. Remember there are good people who disagree with the church’s teachings on marriage.
    Others are unsure of where they stand. Be respectful of their opinions as you share your message. Nothing we say here can be used as an excuse to treat those with same gender attractions partially or disrespectfully. There are faithful temple-worthy members of the church who struggle with this great challenge, often in silence, fear, and great pain. Our hearts go out to these good brothers and sisters

  8. stephanie says:

    I especially appreciate the courage of gay members of the church who are now speaking up, letting the rest of us get to know them and their stories. I know the gospel of Christ is one of love and compassion. And I hope we are getting better as a church at living more Christ-like lives.

  9. fiona64 says:

    Hard to believe that it’s been four years! I am personally grateful, as a straight ally, to every LDS member who used the courage of his or her convictions to stand up against the “teachings” of the church (my parents are LDS and, while they disagree with the church getting involved in politics, take the attitude that “the prophet knows best” at all times). I am hopeful that more members will take a more loving attitude toward what happens under *civil law* rather than trying to insert churchly beliefs into politics. Thanks, Laura, for all that you do and have done.

  10. Laura says:

    Mormons, of course, are not the only people changing views about gays, lesbians and same-sex marriage in the past four years. Take, for example, David Blankenhorn. He was one of the witnesses testifying on behalf of traditional marriage in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. He’s changed his mind about preventing same-sex couples from marrying.

    He’s written an op-ed piece at the NY Times discussing his reasons for changing his mind, including:

    I had hoped that the gay marriage debate would be mostly about marriage’s relationship to parenthood. But it hasn’t been. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say that I and others have made that argument, and that we have largely failed to persuade. In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.

    I had also hoped that debating gay marriage might help to lead heterosexual America to a broader and more positive recommitment to marriage as an institution. But it hasn’t happened. With each passing year, we see higher and higher levels of unwed childbearing, nonmarital cohabitation and family fragmentation among heterosexuals. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the reconceptualization of marriage as a private ordering that is so central to the idea of gay marriage. But either way, if fighting gay marriage was going to help marriage over all, I think we’d have seen some signs of it by now.

    So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?

    Will this strategy work? I don’t know. But I hope to find out.

  11. fiona64 says:

    Laura, I wholeheartedly concur. When Prop H8′s “expert witness” is now recanting, it is indeed evidence of progress.

  12. First Time says:

    Wonderful progress, and I believe this site, Laura, and those who participate in this forum have played an important role in educating those both in and out of the church that marriage equality for all is essential to gospel living.

  13. Sheryl Beckett says:

    Wish I had known about the Mormons for Marriage contingent, but, I did march (walk) with my PFLAG chapter. I was surprised but happy when my son told me about the Mormons for Marriage contingent. Time are changing.

  14. fiona64 says:

    The Prop 8 Campaign is being fined (again) for numerous improprieties.

    Particulars here (includes link to original story): http://www.prop8trialtracker.com/2012/08/07/prop-8-campaign-could-face-almost-50000-in-fines/

  15. Erin says:

    Thanks for this update! I was unaware of many of these milestones, so you’ve really helped me to stay hopeful.

  16. Joe says:

    I know you probably won’t post this comment (like the others) just want to say how saddened I am to see you doing what you do. The LDS Church has taught love and compassion for gays, and there is no reason for gays to marry, and the research shows that the gay agenda is harmful for our children. As I ahve studied these issues I’ve come to realize that my gay family members (that I love very much) would probably be happily heterosexual right now if it weren’t for the propaganda, and the agenda you promote. Environment is a leading cause in expression of homosexuality, and those manipulating studies and creating this environment which suppresses certain facts (such as: many gays can change, that activists do promote hatred against faith, that homosexuality is probably not genetic, that we are probably not born with homosexuality etc etc) share responsibility for those things that gays suffer, including suicide, depression, abandonment of children and spouses, addiction etc.

  17. fiona64 says:

    Dear Joe:

    Please cite your source that explains why the “gay agenda is harmful for our children.” Also cite your source for “Environment is a leading cause in expression of homosexuality.” Why? Because both statements run contrary to what *science* has proven.

    Just a couple of sources that back up my position and prove yours wrong:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19014-children-of-lesbian-parents-do-better-than-their-peers.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11534970

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/253/5023/1034.abstract

    For crying out loud, if what you said was true, we would not have 1500 non-human animal species in which homosexuality is observed. In fact, the bonobos apes (our closest relative on the planet, with whom we share 97 percent of our DNA) have lesbianism as their primary form of sexual congress.

    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx

    Nice victim blaming at the end, though. I can’t imagine why gay folks would be depressed, suicidal, etc. given the kind of propagandistic nonsense that they are exposed to by things like what you posted.

    BTW, I’m a straight, married, middle-aged woman who believes in Jesus’ teachings. One of the things he taught was to love our neighbors as ourselves … and there was no codicil about “unless your neighbor is gay.” You cannot pretend to love your gay family members whilst simultaneously promoting lies about them, Joe. Sorry.

  18. Phil says:

    fiona64, you do realize that most Mormons believe as Joe does.

    No matter how wonderful many of the Mormons are on this site, it will never change the fact that the church is run by men who are appointed as leaders by like-minded people who will never change their minds.

    The Mormon gospel has no room for gays. If they make room, then it’s a changing gospel and loses it’s stranglehold. You aren’t allowed to waver in your beliefs remember?

    I wish the Mormon church was a true and pure church of Christ. I don’t know many churches that even come close to this. Alas, it’s a church of Men for the most part. As it is run by men and men make all the decisions.

    Sure, there’s lots of really really awesome things in the church. And I’ve read most of the book of Mormon and I found some good things in there too. And obviously there are many many wonderful followers. But no matter how many followers change their minds and truly love their neighbours, it will not change the church doctrine and the prophets themselves.

    I know many people on this site pray and hope for a more inclusive Mormon church, but unfortunately, unless they change their entire vision of the afterlife, gays will never be included.

    Who wants to settle for second-best? Who wants to accept that they either have to never experience true love and partnership with the object of their affections? Who wants to never truly be part of the “big plan” in the afterlife.

    Oh sure, all the straight people will be gods themselves and rule over worlds. Ill just be one of their assistants? since I cannot produce spirit children and I’m not married to a woman in the temple.

    All of it is absurd. And to think that Mormons are changing is kind of naïve. It’s like ignoring the entire precepts of Mormonism, in the hopes that the Mormon church will be socially inclusive to gays, just not inclusive in any way that really matters, which is in the gospel of Christ.

  19. Phil says:

    Just a second thing to add that comes to mind. In a discussion about the gospel with my mother, she said to me, “Don’t try and make me believe things that will not allow me to believe in the church.”

    People who convert to Mormonism are usually searching for answers. To give them even a hint that they might have had the wool pulled over their eyes makes them feel unsafe. No-one likes to be unsafe. So I long ago decided that I will let my mother believe what makes her happy, and that’s worth more than anything in the world. To believe in any church you want is not wrong, I know God will still judge her based on the same precepts that all of us will be judged on as stated by Jesus in the Bible:

    Truly Love God. Truly Love Your Neighbor.

    And I believe she does that, and I try to do that everyday. I believe Love wins, and I will be with her in the afterlife with God, not because she is Mormon, but because she followed the basic principles of Christ.