Mormongate: The Mormon Involvement in Prop 8

on 26 April 2009

The Mormon Church disclosed that they donated $190,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California last year. To some this would seem to be just catching up on accounting, but it is actually the latest in a 2-decade campaign by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to eliminate any same-sex marriage that has harmed many lives in the process.

The Church’s campaign to “preserve traditional marriage” as a marriage between a man and a woman began back in 1988 when President Gordon B. Hinckley hired “the Hawaii marketing agency, Hill and Knowlton, to monitor and promote the Church's stance on gay issues in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.” The Church remained quite throughout most of the following Hawaii court case of Baehr v. Miike, but on the same day that the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled “that the state's refusal to issue marriage licenses constitutes sex discrimination under Hawaii law” Elder Boyd K. Packer stated that the church members face three main threats, “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals."

For over 20 years now the Church has been actively and somewhat secretly planning political strategies with PR firms, hiring lobbyists and setting up lobbying organizations as a front designed to disguise Church involvement, taking and making financial contributions, hiring teams of lawyers, and holding confidential overturn court decisions, push and influence statutory and constitutional legislation, all in an effort to prevent not only same-sex marriage but even civil unions in some cases.

Then the First Presidency issued a letter urging support for Proposition 8 and for many California Mormons that letter was the first they'd ever heard of such efforts by the Church and in their innocent faith some thought "Well, this is the prophet speaking, it must be the will of the Lord, we have to support it. After all the prophet can not lead me astray, ‘it is not in the programme [sic]’"

Photo Taken outside of the LDS temple in SLC, Utah on 11.9.2008 as protesters rally enforce against the Mormon Church's invlovement in Proposition 8.

What causes much confusion for members of the Church who also happen to be gay is that they are torn between condemning a part of themselves. They are forced into a position where they feel they have to choose between the Church, the society that they have been raised in, and this innate part of them that feels right and natural to them. This dichotomy of choice, and the Church’s ambiguity concerning this history of the political campaign against same-sex marriage where the letter from the first Presidency concerning proposition 8 appears to be just the next step on a political agenda spanning 20 years rather than divine revelation.

Gay protesters and their allies demonstrated at the Mormon Temple in Oakland days after Proposition 8 was passed last November. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently acknowledged that it spent $190,000 more than previously reported in working to pass the measure, which eliminated same-sex marriage in California. Photo: Lydia Gonzales

This uncertainty that seems to exude from a church organization inputs just the smallest part of doubt that sadly too often leads to suicides like that of Stuart Matis who killed himself on the steps of his stake center during California’s Proposition 22 because he felt that he could not reconcile his religion and his homosexuality anymore.

Classic Soda, Fancy Cheese: A New Look on Life

Growing up I never really enjoyed the third novel of any series I read. Harry Potter and LOTR changed that for me but I can trace this disdain to one book, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. For some reason I never got this book and since then I haven't read it ever again. I have completely skipped over it when I re-read the series because I had made the decision back in 2nd grade that this book wasn't really a part of the series.

Well, a while ago, my step-dad got a copy of the audio CD's of the entire chronicles and I got around to uploading them onto my ipod about 2 months ago. Since then I have been re-listening to them and once I got done with the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was just about to skip ahead to Prince Caspian as usuall when I decided to give it another chance.

The following is a part of the book that I just heard this evening on the way back from Scott's party and I thought I would share it with you.

"I can't see you at all," said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more
terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, "You're not - not
something dead, are you? Oh please - please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world!"

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. "There," it said, "that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows."

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.

"There was only one lion," said the Voice.

"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night,

"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."

"How do you know?"

"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice
continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who
comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

Now what you have to understand about me is that growing up my mom taught me to look for the deeper meaning in all writing and in everything really, but in particular from Lewis' writings. So when I listened to this I immediately likened it unto myself and to Christ. Now I have't finished the book yet and my memory on it is faint but I sense that Shasta is going to end up being a long lost prince who would have died had it not been for Aslan (read:Christ's) pushings and guidance. Perhaps it is because of Scott's post on the Lord's hand in all things, but I also can't help but take a look at my life and see that even when I have thought my life is not as intended, or that I am feeling down, or like I am the most unluckiest person in the world and see that it is all a part of the guiding hand of Christ.

There have been times when I have thought that my life has been horrible, that everything is going wrong, that nothing good is coming my way and instead all I have is pain and anguish. However, what if Lewis' writing is right and all things, even those that we percieve to frighten us, is for our benefit?

What if my childhod house that resides in my current ward, my parents divorce, my scoutmasters calling that enabled him to be my bishop, my former bishop who dealt with my families divorce and got to know us each very well, his calling of stake president, the fact that my ward has so many mission presidents, my stake many GA's and Apostles, my time in Texas in which I was exposed to non-bubble culture and liberal political thought, my time on my own my senior year of high school drowning myself in myriad activities, my fencing and the people I have met there, my time at BYU and the people I met that helped me and that I have helped, the timing of proposition 8 and the political climate, the blogging world's MoHosphere, my brother's choice of a Politcal Science major that made me follow suit, the Internship that I took in DC following my brother's footsteps, the timing of the internship to correlate with my 1 year anneversary of leaving BYU, the people I met out in DC, the experiences I had there that led me to come out in a big way, my attempted suicide, my counseling sessions, my scripture analysis, my readings of nibley as a child, even my hatred for The Horse and His Boy until now has been the simple guiding hand of Christ? Afterall, "... in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."

Perhaps I was meant to understand that His hand is guiding everything this fully at this exact time for a very specific reason. Afterall tomorrow morning/this morning, I will be meeting with my Bishop and Stake President together for the first time in almost 1 year and 9 months. Perhaps I am meant to know that His hand is guiding every step and clearing the path shaping my movements because of His great love for me and because he knows precisely what I need when due to his infinite attonement. This gives me great comfort but also has given me a mantle of responsibility. I need to make the most of what I have been given everyday to help others because if I sit and focus on myself each day then how can I be a tool to help Christ shape another's path if all I do is sit in bed or remove myself from play?

It is amazing how often I have felt as if I understand the Atonement and then I get hit with this realization that my knowledge is small and that I am always in the need for more light and more knowledge. Perhaps having this knowledge I can then share it with others and be more empathetic and sympathetic to others who are struggling with the complexities of life, so that I can teach them better in some capacity later in life and right now.

I hope that I will never lose this perspective and will instead keep strong the principle that their are no coincidences and that each experience in life, each bump in the road, each chance encounter and each person that enters into our lives can and has taught us something. Who knows perhaps the French Proverb that I heard recently in some movie or show I watched recently that I can't remember, or perhaps it is my early obsession with the greeks and their belief in prophecy, or any "random" coincidence of thought but perhaps "One meets his destiny often on the road he takes to avoid it." Perhaps there is a place for everything and everything is in its place and we are precisely where we are meant to be and the right stimuli have been given at the right time to get us to where we are by choice. Perhaps, just Perhaps.

Needless to say, The Horse and His Boy is now one of my favorite Narnian books, however, Edmund is still my favorite character as of yet.

Divine Revelation: The only pathway to change in the church

on 23 April 2009

Presently, the official church policy concerning homosexuality is based off of debated scriptures in the Old and New Testaments and off of the words of the prophets that are based off of these scriptures. The current Church policy towards its homosexual members tells them to live a celibate life and if they are lucky enough to find an opposite sex partner that they are attracted to then marry them.

The Church teaches that there are two kinds of revelation, personal revelation and divine revelation that comes to the Prophet of the Church who is the only one able to receive revelation for the entire world, particularly the members. Throughout the history of the LDS Church, there have been a few times when policies of the temporal church have changed.

While I feel that I may have received revelation that is directing me to seek after and find a husband with whom I will adopt at least three kids, I have been told that this revelation stems from either my own mind or from Satan trying to tempt me to leave the Church. They state that the Spirit of truth will never tell me anything different from what the Church states.

This is very odd because the reason we have the Book of Mormon is because Nephi listened to the spirit, which told him to slay Laban. This command broke the law of the Church that stated “Thou Shall Not Kill” Without this crucial act of Nephi we would not have the Book of Mormon as it is today. There are often exceptions to the rules as outlined by the Lord in which the spirit of personal revelation trumps any Church authority.

There are also times when divine revelation has changed the Church policy and enacted a new aspect of the eternal gospel or taken one away. The most famous of these pertain to plural marriage and equality among the priesthood holders. Plural marriage was put into practice by divine command and in 1890, the Prophet Wilford Woodruff received divine revelation that the practice was to cease on the earth. Since then, the Church has changed its stance on polygamy and excommunicates any members found practicing it, however it is still believed to be an eternal doctrine that will be in practice for a few members in the life to come.

Another example of this divine revelation came in 1978 when the Prophet Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation that reverted the Church’s practice of reserving the priesthood only to white males and instead extended it to all worthy males. This change took place in an era of social upheaval much like today’s era of the gay rights movement.

The only way that the Church will change its policy concerning homosexuals is through divine revelation. This revelation is what I pray for every night so that not only I, but many others who are struggling and who all too often commit suicide can realize that they have a real purpose in being Gay and Mormon.

Stuart Matis, a Returned Missionary who took his life on the steps of his meetinghouse in California on 2000 because of the Church's involvement in Proposition 22.

Gay Marriage Agenda and the Religious Right: Seeking Common Ground

on 22 April 2009

With Iowa and Vermont legalizing same-sex marriage and New York following suit by introducing legislation that would legalize it there, a change is coming. Nate Silver, a prominent statistician who is known for his ability to predict elections based off of large amounts of poll data, has predicted that by the mid 2010’s about half of the states in the union will have the necessary population to legalize same-sex marriage with Mississippi being the last state to legalize it in 2024. Here is a map provided by The Map Scroll that visualizes the findings of Silver.

These statistics and the fact that the Gay Rights Movement will not stop until they have fulfilled their agenda of equal rights.

Photo of a protesters sign reading:
(2) SEE ITEM 1
Taken at a Gay Rights Rally at San Francisco's City Hall shortly after the passing of Proposition 8 from Tantek

This has lead me to believe that within 15 years gay marriage will be legal in each state, even Utah, either through decisions of the supreme court of through legislation at either the state of national level. Given that this “storm” is coming and people are seeking to avoid the same-sex movement from invading their lives.

I think that the conservative movement and the religious right need to change their tactics from an attempt of trying to stop allowing equal rights to homosexuals and instead start to advocate for it, on their terms.

When same sex marriages have been legalized in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and California, it was through the Supreme Court deciding how the law would be interpreted. And while California’s decision was repealed by proposition 8, it passed by only a 2% margin and is expected to be overturned, if not by the Supreme Court, then by a new proposition in 2010 when there will be a larger youth population who are largely in favor of same-sex marriage. Vermont, however legalized it through their legislation where there is a much wider venue for compromise and negotiations within the bill being created.

It would be in the best interest of the conservatives and religious right to stop trying to legislate their morality to everyone and instead protect what they have by coming together to find common ground. A legislature that is willing to work towards equal rights of homosexual couples has much more power to add protections to religions that, in a Supreme Court decision, are not present. New Jersey could add into a gay marriage bill the explicit allowance for excluding homosexuals from using church owned property, even if it was supported by public funds. Nevada could stipulate that in exchange for gay marriage, the education in schools is not allowed to mention homosexuality.

Many view this solution of compromise as failure because neither side gets what they fully want, but that is what a compromise is. This is the structure upon which our Constitution is written. The large states wanted proportional representation and the smaller states wanted strict equal representation. The result is our bicameral legislature that has stood the test of time. Why can’t people on both sides of the gay marriage debate meet in the middle and seek common ground?

So come on Utah, put down your Book of Mormon and please accept us and allow us the agency to sin, we do not seek to force you to get a gay marriage, but please allow us the happiness of spending our lives with a partner for time on this earth. President Monson, please stop your campaign to protect the moral fabric of society by outlawing same-sex marriage, and instead help Utah achieve some common ground. If you don't then Gay rights advocates will most likely work continuously to harm the Church and will eventually legalize it in Utah on their terms not on equal footing. Please, wake up and see the writing on the wall and change your tactics.

Choose a Piece

on 13 April 2009

I just got done talking to my mom for the last couple of hours and I figured I needed to blog rather than be ambiguous on my facebook status.

I may have made my decision and solved my dilemma at present. We shall see how this works for the next few weeks and months before I make anything official, but it looks like I will most likely be leaving the Church temporarily.

I believe that the Church will, just like opening up the priesthood to all worthy males, eventually change its stance on homosexuality. I believe in my heart and in my mind that a committed relationship between tow people regardless of gender is perfectly acceptable in God's eyes. If I am wrong, well then I will end up exactly where I am meant to end up either way, in the kingdom of glory that best fits me and will most help me to grow more.

I still believe that the Church has the most truth, but I do think that they are wrong here and I intend to follow what my heart and mind tell me. So hopefully I will be able to deal with this decision and its ramifications and stick to it. Hopefully I will be able to have continual peace finally. I know that I will doubt this decision, but I hope to look back on the peace that I feel now and remember it and seek after the same level of peace always.

You Have Already Lost

on 09 April 2009

This news really gives me some hope. This guy, Nate Silver is a statistician who is very good at predicting the likelihood of elections based off of statistics. He has recently come out with this timeline for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Granted it has Utah tapping out in 2013 and I think he just forgot about the Mormon Theocracy here in Utah. I think it will take a Federal constitutional amendment in order to change things in Utah before any revelation comes.

Here is a Map that I found through Grant and the text of Silvers findings. If you follow the Link, you can see that the first comment addresses Utah.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex marriage is protected under that state's constitution. As in California, there will of course be an effort to amend the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. In Iowa, however, the hurdle to amending the constitution is fairly high: it will have to be approved by two consecutive sessions of the state legislature and then by a majority of the voters. Most likely, this means that Iowans won't vote on the issue until 2012. This is good news for defenders of marriage equity, because while you might know it from Proposition 8's victory last year, voter initiatives to ban gay marriage are becoming harder and harder to pass every year. I looked at the 30 instances in which a state has attempted to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage by voter initiative. The list includes Arizona twice, which voted on different versions of such an amendment in 2006 and 2008, and excludes Hawaii, which voted to permit the legislature to ban gay marriage but did not actually alter the state's constitution. I then built a regression model that looked at a series of political and demographic variables in each of these states and attempted to predict the percentage of the vote that the marriage ban would receive. It turns out that you can build a very effective model by including just three variables: 1. The year in which the amendment was voted upon; 2. The percentage of adults in 2008 Gallup tracking surveys who said that religion was an important part of their daily lives; 3. The percentage of white evangelicals in the state. These variables collectively account for about three-quarters of the variance in the performance of marriage bans in different states. The model predicts, for example, that a marriage ban in California in 2008 would have passed with 52.1 percent of the vote, almost exactly the fraction actually received by Proposition 8. Unsurprisingly, there is a very strong correspondence between the religiosity of a state and its propensity to ban gay marriage, with a particular "bonus" effect depending on the number of white evangelicals in the state. Marriage bans, however, are losing ground at a rate of slightly less than 2 points per year. So, for example, we'd project that a state in which a marriage ban passed with 60 percent of the vote last year would only have 58 percent of its voters approve the ban this year. All of the other variables that I looked at -- race, education levels, party registration, etc. -- either did not appear to matter at all, or became redundant once we accounted for religiosity. Nor does it appear to make a significant difference whether the ban affected marriage only, or both marriage and civil unions. So what does this mean for Iowa? The state has roughly average levels of religiosity, including a fair number of white evangelicals, and the model predicts that if Iowans voted on a marriage ban today, it would pass with 56.0 percent of the vote. By 2012, however, the model projects a toss-up: 50.4 percent of Iowans voting to approve the ban, and 49.6 percent opposed. In 2013 and all subsequent years, the model thinks the marriage ban would fail. Below are the dates when the model predicts that each of the 50 states would vote against a marriage ban. Asterisks indicate states which had previously passed amendments to ban gay marriage. 2009 (now) Vermont New Hampshire Massachusetts Maine Rhode Island Connecticut Nevada* Washington Alaska* New York Oregon* 2010 California* Hawaii Montana* New Jersey Colorado* 2011 Wyoming Delaware Idaho* Arizona* 2012 Wisconsin* Pennsylvania Maryland Illinois 2013 Michigan* Minnesota Iowa Ohio* Utah* Florida* 2014 New Mexico North Dakota* Nebraska* South Dakota* 2015 Indiana Virginia* West Virginia Kansas* 2016 Missouri* 2018 Texas* 2019 North Carolina Louisiana* Georgia* 2020 Kentucky* 2021 South Carolina* Oklahoma* 2022 Tennessee* Arkansas* 2023 Alabama* 2024 Mississippi* The model predicts that by 2012, almost half of the 50 states would vote against a marriage ban, including several states that had previously voted to ban it. In fact, voters in Oregon, Nevada and Alaska (which Sarah Palin aside, is far more libertarian than culturally conservative) might already have second thoughts about the marriage bans that they'd previously passed. By 2016, only a handful of states in the Deep South would vote to ban gay marriage, with Mississippi being the last one to come around in 2024. It is entirely possible, of course, that past trends will not be predictive of future results. There could be a backlash against gay marriage, somewhat as there was a backlash against drug legalization in the 1980s. Alternatively, there could be a paradigmatic shift in favor of permitting gay marriage, which might make these projections too conservative. Overall, however, marriage bans appear unlikely to be an electoral winner for very much longer, and soon the opposite may prove to be true.

A Frosty Morn

on 07 April 2009

With the recent news of Iowa and Vermont and this unraveling of the “moral fabric of society” I can’t help but draw a comparison to the Civil Rights amendments and the blacks gaining the priesthood. And as Ned pointed out, there is, even with 1%, far more gays and their families that are affected by the silence from the First Presidency that given a conservative estimate of 7% of the LDS population is gay, I would have to be blind to not see that some revelation is waiting in the wings, and logically it would appear to be Pro-Gay rather than Anti-Gay.

So I now, armed with more knowledge, have come full circle yet again and have a choice before me. The choice is my answer to the question, “What do I do in the meantime?” I plan to, once revelation is given, do what is right. But as to the meantime I see two choices and the typical non-choice.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

So I have one option of devoting myself to the church while I wait for them to figure things out and clean house. Committing myself to the Church fully by continuing to prepare and to serve a full-time honorable mission. Waiting for everything has the negative effect of going against my created state and of taking temple covenants that are with God and not with the Church and so breaking them carries a stronger implication for me.

Or I have another option of temporarily abandoning the church much like it has abandoned me. Follow what I feel is right and what I feel is coming down the pipeline of revelation. This would include steady dating and courtship while I looked for a husband. This has the negative effect of, should I be wrong and the revelation is anti-gay, then what would I do? Leave my husband and kids for the Church? Stay with them but live in celibacy? Live in sin and bite my thumb at the Church? So committing there also gives me great concern.

There is of course the third option of stagnancy, but I feel as if stagnancy is death and so I don’t want to really follow the third path much longer.

This is a decision I will have to make after I get my letter back from Elder Clayton and my Stake President and resend it again to the First Presidency and get their response. But I think it might be good to look at which path I would choose for the waiting period for continuing revelation. This is of particular significance to me because each one of these paths could have major effects on my plans for the future and future geographical locations.

So, great vast blogging world, while I know that it is ultimately my decision, your input – public or private – would be greatly appreciated. Please comment and try to persuade me either way because I am on the fence right now. I wonder if this was how I decided whose plan to follow before I got here? A lot of fence sitting perhaps? Maybe that is why I like fencing so much!

My Life's Mission

on 04 April 2009

As I have been wandering aimlessly this past week I have been constantly rushing on and on needing some answer to the great question concerning the eternal nature of Homosexuality. I recognize that this is not the matter of just a few months study, but the mission of a lifetime. I do not know if it can be discovered in my life because I dont think that the information to really "prove" anything can be found here on this earth. I think that it must come from the Lord. And while I would really like it to happen now, so that I can get on with living my life in righteousness and happiness rather than one or the other, I accept that it probably wont come as I feel I need it for a great while.
One of the main reasons that I am sure that this wont come for a while is precisely because my mind is constantly filled with the question. My mind is filled with my own desire, and the teachings I have been brought up in and this mixture leaves me blinded to, at this time, receive personal revelation. The problem is that I do not have very much practice in understanding and recognizing the Spirit and its personal revelation to me.
I am currently finding out if I can set things p so that I can spend a large amount of time to practicing this skill while also helping others. Hopefully I will be able to, but if not I will just have to find some other way to learn how to practice. So to all those who have been concerned for me, Thank You.

Pain, Sorrow, Confusion, Doubt > Life

on 02 April 2009

Why! Why when I am finally at a place that I can live with, a place where I can accept the unacceptable in abeyance until more light and knowledge is given, am I thrown a curveball? Is it because that place isn't right? What is? I have tried everything, every path seems closed off to me. I begin to follow what I reason out in my mind, from things I have learned from out of the best books due to a lack of faith and what happens? I am sent spiraling back down into the depths of Hell. A personal inescapable Hell that follows me wherever I go. A Hell that even in sleep (which evades me now) continues to stalk me. A Hell in which I am preparring to go to bed and I get an idea that I need to read one more setion. Then another strong idea that I need to pray. Hoping that finally this prayer, this moment is what I have waited and asked for. PEACE. But no. Instead I offer myself on bended knee praying with a sincere heart and what do I get. My own personal Hell again. I try to sleep but can't. I am forced into such tears that my crying gives me a nosebleed. A personal Hell where I dont care that I have blood on my pillow, face, sheets. WHY! WHY! WHY! Why do I keep being tormented like this? Have I been humiliated and humbled enough? What more is required? Are my knuckles not bloodied? is my head not bruised? What More do you require so that I can have peace? Will it take my life to satisfy you Lord? I will give it if it is required.