30 July 2009

I Need Your Help Again Everybody!

A big shout out and thanks to everyone who contributed to last week's list of all the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Things About Being Gay.

Flip side. Now, everyone please chime in with all the things you think are GREAT about being gay. I know everyone has individual stories and I love hearing those. This time I'm looking for generalities. Reasons It's Great To Be Gay that apply to most if not all. Thinking caps back on, kids, only this round should be a lot more fun. Ready, set, go!

29 July 2009

Latest From The Newsroom

And now, your humble correspondent brings you the news. Well, okay, at least a few bits you might have missed elsewhere.

Marriage equality will happen. It's just a matter of when and how. Support for it is growing across the country, and surprisingly, Utah is not dead last among the states in that regard. But you probably won't be surprised who is, or that Utah is close alongside and in company that won't surprise most folks who live outside Happy Valley. Details here.

In a related story, we start by reminding you of the words of a very wise and amazing man who lived about 2000 years ago. He said "By their fruits ye shall know them." Fast forward to recent years and the flurry of legislation & referenda in various states to prevent marriage equality and civil unions, to frustrate the Full Faith & Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, and in California, a religiously motivated and financed political campaign to actually strip away an existing civil right from a specifically targeted minority, something unprecedented in American history.

The fruits of all this hyperventilating effort to perpetuate prejudice? A predictable rise in the LGBT community of "minority stress," or the chronic social stress that minorities experience as a result of social stigmatization, a "direct result of the negative images and messages associated with" such political campaigns and legislation. Study participants captured things well: "The irrationality of anti-GLBT initiatives and movements is baffling, painful and scary. We are not who they say we are." And "Initiatives lead to constant painful reminders that I'm seen as less than human by our government and public laws." Mormon contributors to Prop 8, are you listening? These are some of the fruits of your efforts. Are you comfortable submitting to the Savior's test? Details here.

In our Don't Look For This In the Deseret News Anytime Soon segment, a new study in the September Journal of Modern History reviews historical evidence, including documents and gravesites, suggesting that homosexual civil unions may have existed six centuries ago in France. "Affrèrement," roughly translated as "becoming brothers," referred to a certain type of legal contract, which also existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe. This document created a legal foundation for non-nuclear households of many types and shared many characteristics with marriage contracts. These "brothers" pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ – one bread, one wine, and one purse, and such relationships were not confined to actual biological siblings. They held common title to property, and usually became each other's legal heir. The contracts had to be sworn to before a notary and witnesses. Does any of that sound familiar? So next time you encounter someone from the "It's never been tried in human history!" crowd, mention this.

That's it from the news room, we now return you to your regularly scheduled chaos.

26 July 2009

No, Seriously, Steve Martin Really Is Mormon

And today's youth were generals in the war in heaven. And a mission conference set for the WTC on September 11th was cancelled at the last minute. And some General Authorities have declared the famous red-robed painting of the Savior by Del Parsons to be "the most accurate" yet. And this or that cutting-edge nutritional product will solve all your health problems, now just sign up and then agree to go recruit 10 more downlines and you too can be part of the pyramid (a.k.a. Ponzi scheme) that mirrors The True Order Of Heaven, at least here in Utah Valley.

Excuse me while I go hurl. Ever since I was a kid I have really hated this aspect of LDS culture, the ineradicable gullibility of far too many Mormons. I can't help but attribute it to the relentless "believe and obey and don't question" mantra that seems all too common throughout the church. Finally, today I found some relief. Not complete, but it's a start.

If any of you share my dismay at this aspect of Mormon life and need some catharsis, click here.

25 July 2009

A Wedding Done Right

I've been to a lot of LDS temple weddings but never one as joyous as this. Mormons have no idea know how to combine sacred with celebration (just ask Gladys Knight!). Someday, God willing, all of us will be able to walk down that aisle if we want to, and with this same effusive joy. Meantime, I dare you to watch this and not smile or feel your heart get warmer.

24 July 2009

I Need Your Help Everybody!

All right folks, I need your input here.

I invite everyone who's so inclined to post comments and tell me in succinct form every objection to homosexuality you have ever heard. Perspective and backstory don't matter. Whether the objection comes from an LDS view, a more general Christian view, a non-religious view, whatever. Bullet point brevity is preferable but if some elaboration is needed for clarity's sake, please feel free. No need for long lists, either. Post one or two objections you've heard, but read existing comments before you post, and save yourself the work if someone's already posted what you thought of.

Yes, there is a reason for this. But you'll just have to be patient before I tip my hand. Gay Mormon guys are good at that, though, right? Thanks everyone.

21 July 2009

Boies will be Boies, And Very Good, Too

Today's WSJ carried an op-ed piece by prominent attorney David Boies (pronounced "boys", that's right! How cool is that.). If you don't recognize that name, he argued for Mr. Gore before the US Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore a few years back. No slouch lawyer, he.

Mr. Boies has now joined forces with his opponent in Bush v. Gore, Republican super-lawyer Ted Olson, former Solicitor General of the United States, to try to overturn Prop 8 in the federal courts. In his article today, Mr. Boies said a number of things I thought were worth passing along to those of you who don't normally pick up the Journal (I've marked this up a bit to emphasize salient points):

"There is no legitimate state policy underlying Proposition 8. The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership. And even if depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex, it is impossible to see how that could be thought to be as likely to lead to a stable, loving relationship as a marriage to the person they do love.

Moreover, there is no longer any credible contention that depriving gays and lesbians of basic rights will cause them to change their sexual orientation. Even if there was, the attempt would be constitutionally defective. But, in fact, the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters. It is also a condition that, like race, has historically been subject to abusive and often violent discrimination. It is precisely where a minority's basic human rights are abridged that our Constitution's promise of due process and equal protection is most vital.

Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect -- except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- have individually repealed their bans on same-sex marriage as inconsistent with a decent respect for human rights and a rational view of the communal value of marriage for all individuals.

But [and listen up, Mormons who supported Prop 8 and Ken Starr and who railed against "renegade judges"] basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution. [Hear that, my fellow Latter-day Saints? He's right! If what you advocate now had been the law 150 years ago, how do you think the Mormons would have fared?]

The ban on same-sex marriages written into the California Constitution by a 52% vote in favor of Proposition 8 is the residue of centuries of figurative and literal gay-bashing.

California allows same-sex domestic partnerships that, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court, provide virtually all of the economic rights of marriage. So the ban on permitting gay and lesbian couples to actually marry is simply an attempt by the state to stigmatize a segment of its population that commits no offense other than falling in love with a disapproved partner, and asks no more of the state than to be treated equally with all other citizens.

In 2003 the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas held that states could not constitutionally outlaw consensual homosexual activity. As Justice Anthony Kennedy elegantly wrote rejecting the notion that a history of discrimination might trump constitutional rights, "Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."

There are those who sincerely believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with their religion -- and the First Amendment guarantees their freedom of belief. However, the same First Amendment, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, preclude the enshrinement of their religious-based disapproval in state law.

Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The argument in favor of Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers."

To read the full article, click here. Another reason to love Boies.

19 July 2009

Alan's Amazing Sunday Adventure

Well guess what folks. Here I am back in the Bay Area again. That project I thought was over? Well, it's not. The client called suddenly last week, "can you come back for another 3+ months and how quickly can you be here?" So here we go again. I love the steady predictability of corporate life.

I had a rare commitment-free weekend so decided to spend it playing in San Francisco since I was going to need to be up here anyway. And it turned into quite the party. First of all was the guy I picked up on the street in the Castro on Saturday. Yes, I'm serious. We had a rollicking good time and that's all I'll say about it other than don't jump to conclusions. This guy knows about my blog so I'll let him disclose details if he wants.

I stopped by the HRC shop and picked up a few things, including a membership. If you sign up, they give you this way cool polished stainless steel ring with little HRC logos on it. I normally stick to a watch and nothing else on hands, neck or ears, but this was just too cool to pass up. A small but subtle signal. Those with eyes to see will do so. Got HRC logo shirts for the kids too which I'm sure they'll wear proudly.

And today I joined a group of professional colleagues for the annual AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park. Sure, walking six miles through one of the biggest and most beautiful urban parks in the country is a great thing anytime. But when I turned the corner toward the field with all the registration tables and saw thousands and thousands of people all gathered for this event, I felt something I'd never felt before. I've been trying to figure it out all day, how to describe it and compare it to, say, the feeling of walking into church.

Lately walking into church has been less than inspiring. Standard pandemonium, mostly from the adults who should know better, prelude music ignored, a few talks on the topic du jour which more often than not has nothing to do with the Savior. I admit, I'm getting tired of it. I'm finding less and less inspiration from what seem to be increasingly rote sacrament meetings. I have to look elsewhere for sustenance. It's sad, I guess, but it's reality for me right now. Everything there is pro forma, scripted external sensory input designed to evoke a response. And I'm tired of the re-runs.

But walking round that corner in the park today and suddenly seeing 25,000 people all together to show solidarity and walk to fulfill pledges for fundraising for AIDS research--wow. (Don't let those few glum faces in the front of the photo fool you, this was a HUGE party.) All those people, gay, straight, every skin color of the rainbow and every ethnicity, silver-haired seniors to infants in strollers and every age in between, didn't matter, all were equally welcome. Out and proud? Great. Straight and proud? Great. In a wheelchair? No problem, we'll help push you. Kids' little legs getting tired? Friends will help carry them. Here, let me share my snacks with you. It was the biggest microcosm of the entire world's population I'd ever seen, all happy and helpful and supportive, all there for a common cause, and one which I have become increasingly compassionate about.

It was chaotic and boisterous and pulsing with energy and serious and celebratory all at the same time and when I first saw it something erupted out of the center of my heart that said "YES! This is where I belong! These are MY people! I want to be a part of this!" My face lit up and I was grinning from ear to ear as I practically ran into the crowd and soon found my friends, and off we went. It was more than just excitement. It was a feeling that just burst out from the deepest part of my heart. Sort of like wandering in the wilderness for decades despairing of ever finding home again and then suddenly turning a corner and there it is, but more than that. Sort of like starving for a week and then filling up with shrimp cocktail, steak, mashed potatoes and then some outrageous dessert, but more than that. Like being told you'd inherited a fortune from a relative you didn't know existed, but more than that. Like coming out in front of thousands of people and having them all cheer for you, but more than that. Put all of that wonderfulness into one big flood of elation, add a beautiful sunny day, a magnificent park, and several thousand people to share it with, and imagine it just bursting out of you in a split second completely without warning. That's what it was like. Absolute, rapturous delight.

Normally Golden Gate Park is shrouded in clouds because it's so close to the ocean so I didn't worry about sunscreen. Oops. Fortunately I had a hat, and we all got matching t-shirts so I hung my own shirt around my neck as a shield. So I have oddly shaped sunburn patches here and there, but I don't care. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I wish you all could have joined me. Next year perhaps?

17 July 2009

Mirage More Than Miracle

I recently re-read a quote from Spencer Kimball's book The Miracle of Forgiveness which was written when he was an apostle and thus spoke only for himself, not the Church. Elder Richard Scott of the Twelve called it a "masterly work" and President Ezra Taft Benson encouraged everyone to "read and re-read" it. Anecdotal evidence is that the paperbound version is still given out liberally by bishops throughout the Church to anyone who "struggles" with any of the sins the book decries. As such, Kimball's words take on a quasi-canonical and semi-official gloss, not the official Voice Of The Church but essentially so. However, most personal accounts I've heard indicate that the book had the same effect as pouring salt and lemon juice into an open wound.

Now, let me say right now that Pres. Kimball did many good things. He ended official Church racism, for which we should all be very grateful. But he wasn't infallible and sometimes he was--well, let's charitably say less than accurate.

Here's what Elder Kimball had to say about his gay brothers and sisters:

"All such deviations from normal, proper heterosexual relationships are not merely unnatural but wrong in the sight of God. Like adultery, incest, and bestiality they carried the death penalty under the Mosaic law. ... The law is less severe now, and so regrettably is the community's attitude to those grave sins -- another evidence of the deterioration of society. In some countries the act per se is not even illegal. This "liberalizing" process is reflected in the United States by communities of homosexuals in our larger cities who sponsor demonstrations and draw up petitions to this end, who are formally organized, and who even print their own perverted journals. All this is done in the open, to the detriment alike of impressionable minds, susceptible urges, and our national decency."

Condensed to its core point: Homosexuality is a "deviation" which is "wrong in the sight of God," and the "regrettable" shift of community attitudes away from the death penalty for it is a "deterioration of society." (The same chapter goes on to say that homosexuality is "curable", a claim which the Church itself has now backed away from.)

This means bishops throughout the Church continue as part of counseling and repentance processes to distribute and instruct the reading of a book which seems to advocate the death penalty for being or acting gay. And which also makes claims about "cures" which the Church itself now acknowledges "may" not be true. Yet these noxious statements continue to be handed out with a de facto imprimatur to the very most vulnerable and guilt-ridden of God's gay children who are seeking solace from a Church that claims to "love and honor" them "as sons and daughters of God" and says "they are welcome in the Church." (Pres. Hinckley, Oct. 1999 General Conference). Ah, okay. Anybody else scratching their head?

More zigzags from MoF and how they stack up against other authoritative sources:

Spencer Kimball: "We can hardly be too forceful in reminding people that they cannot sin and be forgiven and then sin again and again and expect repeated forgiveness."

Contrast Jesus Christ: "As often as my people repent I will forgive them their trespasses against me" (Mosiah 26:30).

Spencer Kimball: "Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. . . He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal. . . [because] "the Lord demands perfection of us.'"

Contrast LDS Preparing for Exaltation Teacher's Manual: "We need to realize that perfection in this life is not expected or even possible." (Lesson 22, Striving for Perfection" page 122).

Anybody else starting to wonder what else in MoF might be a bit skewed?

Since emerging from my teens I've discovered there were lots of other impressionable, faithful young Mormons who like me were driven to the depths of despair by MoF. To me it seemed more like The Mirage of Forgiveness, something someone as obviously corrupt as I am (as far as the book's concerned) could never hope to attain. I have yet to encounter anything that threatened my testimony of the Atonement as much as Kimball's words.

Thankfully, I ran across this one final quote from Spencer Kimball himself:

“Sometimes I think I might have been a little too strong about some of the things I wrote in that book.” (Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, SLC: Deseret Book, 2005, 80.) Wistful reminiscing about a time when being gay was enough to get someone killed? Ya think?

So now I ignore the Wall Of Shelves Of Sermons For Profit in Deseret Book (when I go in at all, which is rarely), and I stick to the Scriptures, thank you very much. I prefer my living water straight and pure, not colored and sugary or flavored with artificial bitters.

14 July 2009

Can Any Good Thing Come Out Of Spanish Fark? Apparently Yes.

The inimitable Sister Dottie Dixon.

Vox Prudens

An admirable voice of reason amidst the cacophonous caterwauling of deseretnews.com comments about the gay couple's kiss at the edge of church property:

"The bigger problem is not that the church was within its rights, but how and when they choose to enforce those rights. There are many times in life that being in the right but at the wrong time creates a public relations nightmare. And that is what the church has here. Rather than let two disrespectful individuals move on, they put the spot light on them, giving the world a chance to criticise the church for the uneven application of its own rules."

13 July 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath For THIS To Be The Next Aaronic Priesthood Lesson

Once again, Mark Twain was oh so right: "Sometimes profanity affords a relief denied even to prayer." Now, amazingly, science backs him up!

Swearing can make you feel better, lessen pain
Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:31am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Cut your finger? Hurt your leg? Start swearing. It might lessen the pain. Researchers from the school of psychology at Britain's Keele University have found swearing can make you feel better as it can have a "pain-lessening effect," according to a study published in the journal NeuroReport.

Colleagues Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston, set out to establish if there was any link between swearing and physical pain. "Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon," says Stephens. "It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain. Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists."

Their study involved 64 volunteers who were each asked to put their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. They then repeated the experiment using a more commonplace word that they would use to describe a table. The researchers found the volunteers were able to keep their hands in the ice water for a longer when swearing, establishing a link between swearing and an increase in pain tolerance.

Stephens said it was not clear how or why this link existed but it could be because swearing may increase aggression. "What is clear is that swearing triggers not only an emotional response, but a physical one too, which may explain why the centuries-old practice of cursing developed and still persists today," he said.

12 July 2009

Trick Or Treat!

Everybody knows advertising has become pervasive, and my source within NeverWeaned International reports that this year's conference gift bags are being provided by Dr. Dean Robinson, Dr. Jeffrey Byrd, NARTH, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Reparative Therapy. These merchants of dreams of righteous conformity are providing an impressive array of baubles designed to entice earnest and trusting conference participants back to the therapy couch for another expensive year. Who could resist toys like these:

Special NeverWeaned Edition BYU baseball cap. Hidden under the brim are blinders and a nose shield that fold down to form a tunnel through which the wearer can look straight ahead and avoid all that walking pornography in just about every sunny public place;

A bag of Great Salt Lake Sand large enough to fit one's head for when the lure of the Affirmation Web site gets too strong;

Discreet pants pocket sized refreezable ice packs for moments of severe temptation when no cold shower's available;

Polished wooden tablet etched with the Proclamation on the Family, suitable for banging against forehead while filing into the Conference chanting Pie Jesu Domine Dona Nobis Requiem;

Special "Homo-Fob" key rings with the NeverWeaned International Seal and a toll-free number to each of the bag's sponsors for emergency reparative therapy in moments of crisis (regular hourly rates apply, additional 50% service fee nights, weekends and during EFY); and

Special edition Book of Mormon Blue iPod. Software designed by HomoLetix, Inc. to automatically filter out unworthy lyrics. Pre-loaded with MoTab's Greatest Hits, Jeffrey Byrd's popular lecture "How I Can Straighten You Out In Fewer Years Than Robinson Can", and Dean Robinson's popular lecture "Why My Reparative Therapy Takes A Whole Decade Less Than Byrd's." Refuses to synch any music by Britney Spears or the soundtrack from Wicked.

And if you miss the conference, all these wonderful therapeutic products will still be available from each of the gift bag sponsors interest free for one full year on approved credit. Such a deal.

11 July 2009

One Standard For Everyone Ripples Around The World

Proposition 8 revoking an existing legal right because of religious objections. Common Ground Initiative in Utah legislature smothered by local pols doing what they knew the Church wanted even though the Church was previously on record as supporting the Initiative's goals. Ongoing excommunications of people who don't want to leave. Church security picking a fight with two guys over an innocent peck on the cheek. Church pretending the two men were asked to observe the same standards of behavior as "everyone else". So no more newlywed kisses or hand-holding after Salt Lake Temple weddings, folks. That's "one standard of morality and behavior for everyone."

This news update brought to you by the church which asserts exclusive authority to preach Jesus Christ's gospel of love, charity, long-suffering and patience to everyone. Whose leaders "love [and] honor gays . . . as sons of God".

Within 24 hours there are already over 600 comments to the Salt Lake Trib story. And now apparently the story is hitting the news worldwide. I say good. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

In light of its growing consistent record, I have a suggestion for a new Church logo:

P.S. Today's priceless quote from a reader comment to an op ed piece elsewhere decrying the "judicial tyrrany" that "forced" gay marriage on the good people of Iowa:

"I guess I will never understand why the bubbas of the right wing . . . are so afraid of gay people. . . they are [so] congenial, intelligent, and understanding of so many things in business and society that their company is considerably better than the average low intel, drop out, uninformed bible thumping bubba, [and] there is not even a reasonable comparison of who has the higher moral values that are genuine."

And today's prize-winning quote from comments to the SL Trib article:

"Right after Judas kissed Jesus, Jesus was pounced upon by over zealous men. Good god, it's still happening."

10 July 2009

"Same Standard For Everyone." Oh Really.


"Our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married." - Gordon B. Hinckley, Oct. 1999 General Conference.


Salt Lake Tribune Story: Gay Couple Cuffed, Cited After Kiss Near LDS Temple.

"The same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married." Uh huh.

08 July 2009

Same Soundtrack, Recyled

"Categorically prohibited, unnatural and contrary to God’s law, will never be acceptable within the LDS Church; deeply offensive to social norms if allowed to be performed, will lead to the destruction of not just society but indeed humanity."

In the wake of Proposition 8 and the Church's ongoing efforts to fight same-sex marriage, there's no question we've all heard stuff like that countless times from LDS family, friends, and strangers talking, calling, writing, blogging, walking neighborhoods, manning phone banks. Prop 8 was only one skirmish, and there are more rounds to fight, so we can expect to hear more of these claims. Marlin Jensen, Church Historian and member of the Seventy, told ABC News that "if the sun no longer shines, I can't see in God's world how [the Church's insistence that only heterosexual marriage should be allowed] will ever change."

Been there, heard that. That's not news, Alan.

Except for one thing. That quote up above isn't about same-sex marriage at all. It's a summary list of things that were preached over and over and over again for decades from Mormon pulpits as the unquestioned Word Of The Lord about mixed race marriages and black men receiving the priesthood.

Embarrassed? Ashamed? Can't believe prophets and apostles from Brigham Young and onward for generations thereafter said such things, denied temple ordinances on that basis, and basically treated so many of God's children as eternal inferiors? Including even sealing one black woman to Joseph Smith not as a wife, but as a servant, solely because of her skin color? Thirty years after Official Declaration #2, is all this nearly incomprehensible to you? Can't believe that endowed faithful Latter-day Saints who had the same scriptures you do, and a living prophet to guide them, could have been so unbelievably wrong, defended such reprehensible practices with all the fervor and vigor and doctrinal certainty and even the identical language the Church now marshals against same-sex marriage?

Well read all about it here and as you do, note the parallels. The absolute certainty that what you now think is horrific was The Will Of The Lord. And ask yourself, how do you know God doesn't have a broader perspective than you or even President Monson? Maybe because your cultural prejudices have stopped your and others' ears? Maybe because the Church just isn't ready yet, like it wasn't ready 100 years ago? Are you really so sure there's no place in the Kingdom for God's gay children and their marriages?

A hundred fifty years ago The Prophet of The Lord proclaimed it an eternal law that the penalty for mixed race marriage was death on the spot. "It will always be so," he said. Yet we've been performing those fatal marriages in the temple now for 30 years and the world seems to be going on its merry way quite unsullied. Heck, we just got our first African General Authority!

Who says this kind of thing can't happen again? That there's no way in heaven or hell future generations of Latter-day Saints will look back at 2008 and say I can't believe the whole Church was so bigoted as to not let gay people marry? No doubt in Brigham Young's time, such a prediction was unthinkable about mixed race marriages too. After all, the living prophets & apostles said it "will always be so!" Yet look what happened. Think about it.

06 July 2009

The Muse Strikes Again, But No Guarantee

One never knows when inspiration or idiocy will strike. Tonight it was probably much more of one than the other, you be the judge gentle reader. I ran across something I'd started to sketch out months ago at the height of the Prop 8 furor and suddenly the rest of the words came tumbling out of God knows what cranial catacomb. That means it's probably drivel, but light verse is fun sometimes. Forgive the subject, I am a slow learner as I said before and this is either way behind the curve or the first faint whisper of the next round now gearing up. Trivia points to anybody who correctly identifies all four people in the first line.

The Traditional Track Record

Joseph and Emma and Mary and Kate
Loved their traditional marital state
Faithfully followed the Bible's template
And for it, today they'd be ex'd.

Brigham said plural's the way to the top
He loved that tradition and just wouldn't stop
Today if you tried it the Church axe would drop
And you'd find yourself out on your ear.

Heber C Kimball, traditional dad,
Had sixty-five kids. Now, that record ain't bad.
But the time with their father each one of them had
Wouldn't fill up a single week-end.

Traditional marriage, one girl and one guy
Now it's orthodox teaching, the pie in the sky,
Nevermind that divorce will make half go bye-bye,
Bringing poverty, heartbreak and hurt.

But we must keep on preaching the orthodox path
Or our country will fall beneath God's awful wrath
'Cause we've figured it out and we've studied the math
And traditional marriage is doomed

If we let all those gay people in on it too
If we give them stability like me and you
in traditional marriages know to be true,
God forbid, they just might find success!

Then, traditional marriage, your horrible fate
Will be just like it's always been, early or late,
Not some monolith unchanging permanent state
Just the promise of two who found love.

05 July 2009

Why Not

I didn't go to church today.
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this spell of summer weather.
He knows when I am said and done
We'll have plenty of time together.
- Ogden Nash

02 July 2009

The 4th

Sometimes I wish the 4th of July and Thanksgiving were closer in time, because I think conceptually they belong together. It's easy to forget, amidst all of the hoopla and celebration, how unusual is our situation in the United States. Having read a bit of history, I have never lost my amazement at the collective genius of our country's Founders, and it's crystal clear to me that they were indeed inspired, as the Doctrine & Covenants says, to design a system of civil government virtually unique in all of human history with its separation of powers and focus on preserving liberty. A place with, I think, the best chance for someone like Joseph Smith to do what he did. A place whose national identity requires it to aspire relentlessly to be better and do better, and which welcomes anyone who shares the vision. Which welcomes discussion and respectful disagreement as part of the dialogue, because our country is still very much a living, ongoing experiment in whether the Founders' ideas can work and be preserved, and where we believe, as Joseph Smith said, that "by contraries is truth made manifest." We are blessed to live in a place where that can be done peacefully and safely, without fear of government reprisal. It's easy to forget how comparatively rare that is in history.

For all of that I am very grateful, and as the fireworks go off each year, I remember that quote from John Adams when the Declaration was signed, when he said that day should properly be celebrated with fireworks and parties and celebrations because of what it meant for his and future generations. We're now well over two centuries past their time, and in an era which seems to emphasize the importance of our history perhaps less than past generations did. That makes me sad, because the Founders were remarkable, heroic men. Not without flaws of course, and in many ways just as cunning a set of politicians as any we see today, but together they had remarkable intelligence, wit, and vision. They and their families made amazing sacrifices for our benefit. So on the 4th of July I try to remember that and to honor them for it, and to teach my family about these amazing men and how lucky we are to be their beneficiaries, the heirs of their vision.