Tuesday, November 18, 2008

President McCain

I had a dream last night that somehow they recalculated the votes and found that John McCain had become president. I could express to you how shocked I was.

Thankfully, I woke up to find it wasn't true.

But still...

Not that I have a problem with McCain, but can you imagine the level of incompetance required to have such a blunder within the election results?

Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Response (Part II)

In the comments to the previous post (On Blogger, not Facebook) The author of the original note responded with her feelings.

Read that comment before pressing on: (I've also attached it to the bottom of this entry.)

I apologize for not knowing you are from Los Angeles. I figured you were in UT, and I should have checked.

I think you mis-understand what I meant by the church asking gays the same thing in regards to celibacy and marriage. What I mean by that is that the church will never recognize, nor be forced to recognize or solemnize gay marriages, and therefore there is no chance for companionship in this life for a gay mormon. I was not insinuating that if gay marriage were legal that the church would have to shine it’s blessing upon gay sex.

You also seem to get very hung up on the sexual aspect of homosexuality. I realize this is the “icky” part that everyone immediately thinks of, but living openly as a gay man doesn’t not mean having sex. It means not fighting yourself all the time, and not having to hide. You take for granted that you are straight. You agree with the church that homosexuals do not choose their feelings—so imagine you have to spend your whole life fighting them. Imagine if the prophet commanded you that your feelings towards your fiancĂ©/husband or boyfriend were never to be acted upon, and in fact, you had to play out your life acting like a lesbian, could you do it? Wouldn’t it be incredibly hard and painful? Well reverse that, and that’s exactly how it feels to be gay and in the church. It hurts, and it’s not easy—especially when everyone around you is professing that how you feel inside, is an abomination to God.

“Gay people who tell the ward about their homosexual relationships are disciplined”. I never said gays who are in the church should be giving talks about their relationships—I’m talking about the members who are gay and DON’T act on their feelings. They TOO can be disciplined, even though they’ve broken no commandments, because Mormons are not yet ready to handle the idea that homosexuals can be and are worthy members of the church.

“I am interested in knowing what doctrines, council and scripture precede the doctrine we currently have on the issue.”

There is no doctrine that counter-acts the Mormon Church’s stance on Homosexuality—that is clear, and has never been in question. The scriptures that I’m referring to are

D & C 134:4 and 7
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

And as stated previously, the 11th Article of Faith
11 We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.

As well as these words, spoken from Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I plead with our people everywhere to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of diversity. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 94–95; or Ensign, May 1995, 71).

That's why Utah is being called on its bluff--the church's official statement is that they are not against equal benefits and privileges to same-sex couples. So they've proposed 5 laws in Utah to help achieve the level of equality enjoyed in states like California. We'll see the true feelings of the church when these laws fail to be passed by the Utah legislature. Or maybe they'll surprise me--I can always hope.

No, no one was forced—but some were coerced, I know that when I said I would not assist in calling on a phone bank, that my faith was called into question. Even if I am mistaken, is it the Church’s policy to insult people’s faith when they are weak? Aren’t we supposed to uplift those who are weak and unsure? Set a positive example?

“You don’t know my gay friends” No, but I know my gay friends, and they are all ANGRY with the Mormon Church. If they are level-headed people, they may respect your unwavering belief, but they are angry and hurt, and they don’t feel the same way about you as they did before. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to go to your gay friends, if they really exist, and ask them “How do you feel about my involvement in dismantling gay marriage in California?” I am 98% positive that the answer will equate to sadness at the least, and anger and betrayal at most.

“Couldn't I respect their desires while still upholding my beliefs?” Yes, you can respect their desires—but voting to take them away is not respect, its backhanded. You cannot look a homosexual in the eye and tell them you respect their desire to marry whom they love, and then turn around and vote to take away what they want. It doesn’t make sense.

“Our leaders have given us the church's point of view on this issue and I for one will heed the council of the Lord.” – I’d point out that the council of the prophets in the past has been that African Americans did not have the right to marry whites.—You’d have sustained that as well, I assume. Because I know I wouldn’t. I’m aware this is a part of its history the church wants to hide, but it can’t. The only semi-logical argument I’ve ever heard for this is that the Mormon membership was not ready to allow interracial marriage and African American’s to hold the priesthood—not God. If this is your best argument, then I’d like to state that the God I’ve come to know doesn’t withhold his blessings to his children because it makes others uncomfortable.

I’m going to assume that since there was no rebuttal on the points about tax exempt status and this country’s role as a protectorate of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, that you’ve agreed with me or at the very least have no non-secular argument. I realize that in the end, you think this is the right thing to do, based on your interpretation of the words of the Prophets and God. But remember, the church asks us to seek our truths and have them confirmed—if they really wanted you to just fall in line with everything that’s ever said, what is the point of having that doctrine? Why do we need to pray about the prophets council if we know he’ll always be right—what’s wrong with blind obedience then?

I appreciate the dialogue you’re giving me the opportunity to voice, and your civility in the matter.


The response from Joy, the author of the original post.

First of all all I said was that we no longer practice polygamy. I never said that have disowned our history of it. As a member of the church I know that if President Monson were to stand up at General Conference in April and tell us that the Lord had commanded we begin the practice of polygamy again, I would submit.
Second (this is kind of a side note) I am from the LA area of California so when I mention contention in our state I am referring to California. I stated the church didn't contribute money to the actual yes on prop 8 campaign which is true. They did pay some travel expenses. Now, we as members of the church, as I have previously stated, believe that there are people with homosexual feelings who do not choose to have them but the sin lies in acting upon them. Thus, when you say "just as we ask hetero men and women to remain celibate until marriage, we ask gays the same thing" you are mistaken. Because we believe that homosexual actions are sinful we do not believe that they should be married unless it is to someone of the opposite sex. We don't condone homosexual relationships at all, it is not a question of whether they are married. As a member of the church I would expect that you understand that there are varying degrees of sin; this accounts for the time difference in deferring missions. You're right, the church doesn't allow you to live openly as a gay person. Gay people who tell the ward about their homosexual relationships are disciplined. I believe that if someone was actively involved in fornication (heterosexual) and was shouting it on the roof tops that they would be punished similarly to those gay people who divulge their personal sins. If, however, a homosexual kept his or her sins private and simply spoke to the bishop about it, I believe similar punishments would be issued to them as are issued to those who fornicate and simply tell their bishops. And YES, if someone is a member and says that they are having homosexual relations they should have their temple recommends taken away because we don't believe they are worthy. It's not just sins of homosexual actions that cause the remand of temple recommends.
I am interested in knowing what doctrines, council and scripture precede the doctrine we currently have on the issue.
I would also like to know if you are aware that unless something comes from the mouth of THE PROPHET it cannot always be counted as entirely true. Apostles and general authorities are sometimes mistaken in their discourses. (Just in case your preceding evidence comes from people other than the prophets.)
I don't think that anyone was forced to give money to the campaign or felt threatened if they wouldn't. That's simply ridiculous. You said that members were asked to donate of their TIME and money. That means not just money...
And finally, Ezra, you don't know my gay friends and therefore cannot know what their level of respect for me is. Could it be that my gay friends respect the fact that I stand up for my religious beliefs and am unwavering? Couldn't I respect their desires while still upholding my beliefs?
Our leaders have given us the church's point of view on this issue and I for one will heed the council of the Lord.

In Response...

I've posted the original post that I'm responding to, found on a friend-of-a-friend's notes, below my response if you'd like to read it first.

Here's my response:

1. Mormons no longer practice polygamy.
This is true, but the Mormon Church abandoned Polygamy only as a condition to gain statehood--not because they no longer felt in was God's will. Polygamous marriages will be recognized and blessed in heaven according to the church, so it's far from rejected or abandoned, doctrinally speaking. Secondly, if the church feels that non-traditional marriages are damaging, then why are they not more aggressive in their pursuit of polygamous sects in Hilldale and other areas in Utah?

2. Mormons hate gay people.
This is true, Mormons don't "hate" gays, but they certainly offer conflicting viewpoints and double standards regarding the issue. I've often heard the argument that "all sexual relations, gay or straight, outside the bonds of a marriage (Not temple marriage, mind you, as evidenced by my parents who married in a ward before going to the temple) is sinful." And the argument is that just as we ask hetero men and women to remain celibate until marriage, we ask gays the same thing. See, it’s the same thing!

Unfortunately, the double standards abound. If, for example, you are preparing to go on a mission and you have hetero-sex, it takes 1 year of waiting before you can be reconsidered for a mission. However, if you have homo-sex, the waiting period is 3 years. So please stop lying and saying that "it's all the same" because it's not. Apparently, gay premarital sex is three times more abominable to God than hetero premarital sex. Also, you might say, straight people might never marry too—but they at least have the hope that someday the right person might come along. Gay members have no reassurance. Only a vague promise of a reward in the next life.

I’d also like to add that the church doesn’t allow you to live openly as a gay man—you are disciplined if you are too open with people about it. If the church really believes that the feelings are not a sin, only the actions, then why aren’t people who are living the commandments, but are gay, treated equally? I know gay Mormons (do a blog search, there’s hundreds) who’ve been threatened to have their temple recommends removed for talking about their sexuality.

3. The LDS Church contributed money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.
The church actually did make an in-kind donation of 2,000 dollars for plane tickets to visit the coalition in CA, so you're statement that they donated nothing is false. You are correct, however, that it wasn't that the church just took tithing money and handed it over.

The problem is that the church used fear of excommunication and disfellowship to coerce many who might have opposed or been ambivalent about the issue into falling in line with the church. At least one member has been excommunicated for his actions speaking out against Prop 8.

I live in California, and you don't understand that literally every week they spoke from the pulpit saying it was a trial of our faith to donate time and money, and it was God's will. Problem is I and other members who prayed and received the opposite confirmation from the spirit where immediately questioned about their lack of faith. How is this not force? How is this donation voluntary if you are told that not doing it is equivalent to apostasy?

3. Yes, you are intolerant for banning Gay marriage, because you are ignoring the council and scripture that has preceded this new revelation. If the church said, officially "these doctrines are now rendered null and void" by our new doctrine, that might be one thing, but that's not the case. The revelations of past and present prophets conflict, so what does one choose to follow?

My stake president came and spoke for and ENTIRE SACRAMENT MEETING about how the church wasn't getting involved in "politics" it was getting involved in a "moral issue" and that's why we shouldn't feel guilty about repressing another groups beliefs.

Remember, "we claim the privilege of worshipping almighty God, according to the dictates of our own conscience and ALLOW ALL MEN THE SAME PRIVELAGE--LET THEM WORSHIP HOW, WHERE, OR WHAT THEY MAY".

If I founded a religion that performs and solemnizes gay marriages, you have no right, both by law and by scriptural doctrine to tell me that I cannot. You are not required to accept it, but the state is, because the state is prohibited from holding the beliefs of one religion over another.

4. The argument about infringing on religious freedom is a sad and tired one. Here's why:

First off, you and I know that the church teaches that unless married in the temple "for time and all eternity", the marriage ends at death, and is therefore not recognized by God. Yet we allow these non-eternal marriages to exist in spite of our 'knowledge'. The church wouldn't dream of banning a non-temple marriage, even though it's not a marriage that will be valid in heaven. It seems pretty clear that it's a double standard, once again--sounds pretty intolerant to me.

Secondly, it's utter nonsense that the church would lose its tax exempt status or its right to perform temple marriages if gay marriage were legal—gay marriage WAS legal in California for months, and has been legal in Boston for years, and none of these lawsuits or tax questions have come up. Only members in good standing have been permitted entrance to the temple since the church's inception. No non-Mormon couple has come to the church and demanded to be married there, that I know of. And even if they had, they'd be turned away. In over a hundred years of existence, the church has never been "forced" to marry anyone it didn't want to. It's fear-mongering poppycock, and any lawyer worth his salt knows it.

5. The contention in Utah has been there since long before 8, but it's being brought out because people are tired of being ruled by a religion they don't subscribe to. It's not just, and the reason that Mormonism was brought forth in America was because it was the only place where personal beliefs were protected from tyranny of the majority. Think about it, and you'll understand.

6. Your "gay friends" have lost a lot of respect for you and are very hurt. It may not affect their outward display of friendship and love towards you, but they are hurt, very deeply, I might add, that you would tell them they are not allowed to have the right to marry the person they please. The church provides no support system for those struggling with their feelings and their sexual identity, and I know it may surprise you, but there are many, many gay Mormons who are losing their faith over this--they've struggled to do what they thought God wanted for them, only to see their faith rewarded with misunderstanding and fear.

But that's probably a-ok with the church—gotta separate the wheat from the chaff and all that...

Thanks for providing an opportunity to explain the issue from another Mormon perspective.


Original post, found on a friend-of-a-friend's notes:

I know we've all had enough of the talk about Prop 8 but I would like to express MY beliefs and opinions on the topic as well as clear up some possible myths.

First of all I'd like to clarify just a couple of things:
1. Mormons no longer practice polygamy.
Polygamy is a part of our history; it occurred but does not any longer. If you are interested in more information regarding why it was practiced you can ask me or follow my nifty link :) Anyway, my reason for writing this in this note is that I've seen and heard a few people say things such as, "If Mormons can have 10 wives, why can't I have 1?" I believe that anyone who says something like this is uneducated about our faith.

2. Mormons hate gay people.
Mormons, like almost all other religious people, believe that homosexuality is a sin. We get this belief straight out of the Bible. So no, we do not hate gay people. We view their actions as sinful, just like we view lying and fornication as sinful; it has nothing to do with the fact that they are homosexual. Also it is commonly taught among our church that homosexuals do not choose to have homosexual feelings, instead we believe that they choose to act on their feelings.

3. The LDS Church contributed money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.
Many believe that the LDS church as an institution contributed directly to supporting Prop 8. False. The church leaders did encourage the members to vote yes and contribute, however, no money came from the church as an institution. Instead it came from members of the church who had been urged to donate; the individual people, not the LDS Church as a whole, helped to fund the campaign.

I'm sorry I don't have a link for this one but only about 2% of California is LDS. There are more gay people in California than there are Mormons. We weren't the only ones who voted yes.

So if we are tolerant and not hateful towards homosexuals why are we so opposed to legalizing gay marriage? It's because the legalization of gay marriage would infringe on our religious freedoms. We as LDS people believe in Temple marriage. We believe that all faithful members of our church who are married and sealed in an LDS temple will be with their families forever. Most marriage ceremonies end with "till death do you part" but ours end with "for time and all eternity." Marriage and family are very sacred to our church. We believe that marriage is essential to salvation. I was married in an LDS temple in Utah and the ceremony meant the world to me. If gay marriage had been legalized then by law our church would not be able to perform temple marriages and sealings because we do not support gay marriage. This is one of the biggest motivating factors for LDS support of Proposition 8. We would no longer be able to practice our religious beliefs if gay marriage was legalized.

It saddens me to see the contention in our state. I do not like watching a place where I go to worship being vandalized (although I will say that the vandalism that has occurred has been minimal in comparison to what it could have been).

I hope anyone reading this knows me well enough to know that I do not dislike gay people. I am a friend to some and do not look down upon them.

I am not trying to fuel an argument but merely state my position and hopefully bring light to those who do not understand my religious beliefs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope anyone who comments will do so in an appropriate manner.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

How the Grinch Stole Marriage

The following is the only consolation I have on this bittersweet Nov. 5th morning.

Please forgive us, America. The cascading bans on gay marriage that will probably result from this blunder are going to take years to undo. Please forgive Mormons, for they know not what they do.

How the Grinch Stole Marriage

by Mary Ann Horton, Lisa and Bill Koontz (with apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

Every Gay down in Gayville liked Gay Marriage a lot......
But the Grinch, who lived just east of Gayville, did NOT!!

The Grinch hated happy Gays! The whole Marriage season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, his Florsheims were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all was
His heart and brain were two sizes too small.

"And they're buying their tuxes!" he snarled with a sneer,
"Tomorrow's the first Gay Wedding! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find some way to stop Gay Marriage from coming!"

For, tomorrow, he knew... All the Gay girls and boys
would wake bright and early. They'd rush for their vows!
And then! Oh, the Joys! Oh, the Joys!

And THEN they'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Gay down in Gayville the tall and the small,
would stand close together, all happy and blissing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Gays would start kissing!

"I MUST stop Gay Marriage from coming! ...But HOW?"

Then he got an idea! An awful idea!

"I know what to do!" The Grinch laughed in his throat.
And he went to his closet, grabbed his sheet and his hood.
And he chuckled, and clucked, with a great Grinchy word!
"With this beard and this cross, I look just like our Lord!"

"All I need is a Scripture..." The Grinch looked around.
But, true Scripture is scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...? No! The Grinch simply said,
"With no Scripture on Marriage, I'll fake one instead!"
"It's one man and one woman," the Grinch falsely said.

Then he broke in the courthouse. A rather tight pinch.
But, if Georgie could do it, then so could the Grinch.
The little Gay benefits hung in a row.
"These bennies," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most uncanny,
around the whole room, and he took every benny!
Health care for partners! Doctors for kiddies!
Tax rights! Adoptions! Pensions and Wills!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, with a chill,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, in his bill.

Then he slunk to the kitchen, and stole Wedding Cake.
He cleaned out that icebox and made it look straight.
He took the Gay-bar keys! He took the Gay Flag.
Why, that Grinch even took their last Gay birdseed bag!

"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will pocket their Rings."
And the Grinch grabbed the Rings, and he started to shove
when he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and off flew his hood.
Little Lisa-Bi Gay behind him sadly stood.
The Grinch had been caught by small Lisa-Bi.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "My, oh, my, why?"
"Why are you taking our Wedding Rings? WHY?"

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Shepherd sneered,
"The judges are evil, the other states weird."
"I'll fix the rings there and I'll bring them back here."

It was quarter past dawn... All the Gays, still a-bed,
all the Gays still a-snooze when he packed up and fled.
"Pooh-Pooh to the Gays!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now no Gay Marriage is coming!"
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
then the Gays down in Gayville will all cry Boo-Hoo!"

He stared down at Gayville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Gay down in Gayville, the tall and the small,
was kissing! Without any bennies at all!
He HADN'T stopped Marriage from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came without lawyers, no papers to sort!"
"It came without licenses, came without courts!"
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!

"Maybe Marriage," he thought, "doesn't come from the court.
Maybe Marriage...perhaps... comes right from the heart.
Maybe Marriage comes from all the words the Gays say.
Words like Husband, like Wedding, and Spouse who is Gay."
And what happened then...? Well...in Gayville they say
that the Grinch's small brain grew three sizes that day!

And the Gays had their Weddings. They promised for life.
They swore to be faithful, to Wife and her Wife.
The Husbands were happy, to each other they vowed
To be Out and be Honest, be Gay and be Proud.
They told all their neighbors and friends of their Spouse,
They told of their Marriage and sharing their house.
They said "We got Married." They shouted it loud.
Their marital status was "Married and Proud."

And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light.
And he brought back the rings, cake and Gay birdseed bags!
And he... ...HE HIMSELF... hung the Gay Rainbow Flag!
The Lord looked down, at the proud and the tall,
and said "These are my children, and I love them all."


The moral of this story is that we don't need a piece of paper and the approval of the state to get married. We can just get married. Instead of having a commitment ceremony, we can have a wedding. Instead of partners, we can have husbands and wives. Instead of calling our relationship a Domestic Partnership or a Civil Union, we can call it a Marriage. Whether any government recognizes it is separate from what we call it. It's a free country and we can call ourselves what we like.

In 5 or 10 or 20 years, with plenty of visible same-sex married couples, the world won't see us as strange or scary, we're just the married couple down the street that happens to be gay. Eventually, the legal recognition of our marriages will follow.

If we allow ourselves to voluntarily sit in the back of the bus, we'll never make any progress. Rosa Parks had to sit in the front of the bus to make a difference. We must as well.

Copyright (c) 2004 by Mary Ann Horton. Permission granted to copy in whole, with attribution. This is a parody of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."