31 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow #5

This one has multiple parts. Mr. Bigelow's statements are in italics, mine in regular font.

5. The Church was wrong to endorse "Salt Lake’s ordinances spelling out special protections for those who’ve chosen to pursue their gay inclinations." Its support "counters what some apostles have said" and Mr. Bigelow "seriously doubts" the Church's move was "based on revelation."

This one puzzles me. You are obviously keen to toe a very conservative Church line in so many ways, but when the Church itself states an opinion different from yours, you say the Church is wrong. Please explain why this should not be construed as indicating you will support the Church only when it agrees with your opinions.

It was Church PR who stated the position, which is different from a proclamation from the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12. If those 15 want to come out with a real, unanimous proclamation or revelation, then I'll have to deal with that. But it's easier for me to dismiss what I think was essentially a PR-driven move, even if the PR guys or even a couple of liberal apostles convinced Pres. Monson to go along with it in the back rooms of the Church. But unless and until Pres. Monson himself says something definitive and public on the issue and unless all 14 other apostles publicly agree with him, I don't give much of a care about what a salaried Church PR spokesman says in an attempt to do damage control to the Church's reputation.

Please explain how an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is a condition and not an action, is both unnecessary and a "special protection" as opposed to an ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on the conditions of race or gender.

Sexual orientation is based solely on the claim of the person: there is no visible evidence that a person really is 100% homo, and every person has a different mix of reasons why same-sex attraction is an issue for them, and everyone has a different mix of homo/hetero orientation, whereas with race or gender there is visible evidence of an obvious, incontrovertible 100% biological nature. Sexual orientation is something that a person chooses to acknowledge in himself, and it is rarely a black and white thing, and it can change as a person matures. I know that some people really do feel same-sex attraction, but some people also feel attraction to children of either or both genders, but no one is saying we should give pedophiles any special protection against discrimination because they've chosen to express or act upon their perverted desires. (And by the way, I am not saying there's any connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, and I think pedophilia is much worse than homosexuality.) Society has become permissive enough to allow homosexuality, and that's a sign of society's corruption, because homosexuality perverts God's purposes for his children to bring children into the world, form eternal families, etc. Also, the practice of gay sex itself is an unholy and impure practice, in my opinion, especially when anal, and I don't think society should be granting special recognition or protection for people who choose to pursue that.

The Church took a very public position in support of these ordinances. There is no way it would have done this without President Monson's approval. You point out that it contradicts what some of the apostles have said. Please explain why this should not be construed as acknowledgement that there is disagreement amongst the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve over this issue, and if so, why we should not therefore conclude that the matter is not yet settled even within the ranks of those sustained as prophets, seers and revelators.

I already touched on this above. Oh, I totally agree that the matter is not yet settled among them. I'm sure there are 2-3 apostles who are somewhat confused about the gay issue, just as there have been individual apostles confused about blacks, the Catholic church, and a number of other issues in the past. That's why it's so great that we have to wait until everybody is unanimous among the big 15, because then 2-3 confused guys can't hijack the Church and take it in the wrong direction. There is no way in hell that all 15 big boys are ever going to go green light on gay, but hopefully their discussion will help everyone be more understanding and sensitive. You have to admit, the Church has made a lot of progress over the past 40 years on this issue, in terms of dealing with it more realistically and compassionately.

You "seriously doubt" that the Church's support for the Salt Lake City ordinance was "based on revelation." Please explain why, if you are right, you believe the Church took this action without any revelatory guidance, and why your statement should not be construed as an admission that sometimes the Church makes statements and takes actions which are not inspired or revealed but rather based on individual leaders' decisions or even political calculations. And if so, how are we to tell the difference when the Church itself doesn't make the distinction?

Again, when you see a unanimous public declaration or proclamation by all 15 prophets, seers, and revelators, then you're on really solid ground. Anything less than that is, as you say, based on individual leader biases, political calculations, etc. So the Church DOES make the distinction, when you get the whole 15 openly and publicly together, not just sending some PR guy to a press conference without any information on who reviewed the policy, OKed it, etc. Even Pres. Monson acting alone would not suffice for me; it's gotta be all 15 together, out in public together with it.

30 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow #4

Same format. Mr. Bigelow's initial statements first in italics. Then my questions, then his response again in italics.

4. "At some point we Mormons will have to withdraw from society when society becomes wicked enough to try to shove homosexuality down our throats, which I'm sure will eventually happen with even more gusto than when society pressured us to end polygamy."

Please explain what you think will be the tipping point at which this will happen, and how you think the Mormons will--or could--"withdraw from society" thereafter. Gay marriage is the law of the land already in numerous countries where the Church has many members and temples (Canada, Spain, and others), and I don't hear of any mass exodus of the Mormons from there.

I think eventually society will try to force the Mormons to fully accept gay marriage, perform them in Mormon temples, etc. I think as the world keeps getting more godless and wicked on this issue, temples will be bombed, Mormons will be persecuted, government sanctions will be put into place, etc. even worse than when society tried to force us away from polygamy. This will take several more decades (hopefully) for civilization to ripen enough in evil to start persecuting the Saints this way; right now, the seeds are just being planted, and they will take a while to grow, and I'm sure the Mormons can continue to function reasonably well in society for at least 20-30 more years. It's not like God immediately sends down lightning bolts when someone sins, and bad consequences don't happen RIGHT after a state or nation legalizes gay marriage. But just as the slave issue evolved over several hundred years until finally things came into open conflict between the two sides, so will it happen with gay rights, but this time it will be decades, not centuries. With gay marriage legal and gayness celebrated, many more of our children will choose that lifestyle, and contention and wickedness will increase.

At the same time that this growing gay evil is going on, I expect other bad things to be happening to civilization as prophesied, such as natural disasters, economic trouble, wars, etc. I'm talking about more of these kinds of things than we've ever experienced in America, as God withdraws his blessing and protection because the voice of the people chooses against his will. So I think society will already be more in shambles than not by the time the Mormons have to withdraw from it in order to preserve their own safety, and it won't just be only because of the gay issue but also because things have gone to hell in a hand basket in general. By withdraw, I mean back to the kind of situation that prevailed in Utah during the 1800s.

28 January 2010

Meet The Professor

Visits From Mr. Bigelow will return after this break.

Last Monday I visited one of my law school professors. He was my freshman ward bishop as well, so I have known him for a good chunk of my life. We have kept in touch since I graduated, and I've always considered him a mentor. It's standard law school protocol for professors and students to address each other as "Mr." or "Ms.", so when he recently urged me to call him by his first name, I found it difficult to comply. In my mind, the appellation "Mr." had become a title of honor for him because, after all, it was thanks in part to his efforts that I've been able to make a successful career. I owe him a great deal. So calling him by his first name seemed presumptuous and arrogant somehow, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it comfortably. Just like when the judge I clerked for after school told me some years after the clerkship that I could call her by her first name. Very difficult.

After catching up on each other's lives and families and careers, we had only a few minutes left before he had to rush off to teach a class. I'd thought a lot ahead of time whether to share with him the biggest event of my life in recent years, and even though our visit was almost over, I decided to go ahead. I knew we'd continue the conversation later so I wanted to at least bring it up. So I told him one of the main reasons I looked so healthy and happy and little changed from my student days (his words, not mine, and he wanted to know how I did it) was that sixteen months ago I had come out of the closet and so freed myself from the stress and pressure and difficulty of constantly pretending to be something I wasn't. Naturally, I couldn't recommend that he follow my particular method of stress reduction!

He didn't flinch or bat an eye. He simply said, with a smile and his regular calm, gentle demeanor, "that must have been a great challenge for you." I said yes it had, but I'd also discovered a great paradox in being a gay Mormon. While from a cultural perspective there probably wasn't a worse church to be a member of if you're gay (which as I recall he agreed with), in a long-term theological sense it's arguably one of the best because nobody else has the 9th Article of Faith which leaves open the possibility of a wonderful miraculous resolution to all present difficulties.

By this time he was on the verge of being late for his class, but, gentleman that he is, he said nothing about it and made no sign of needing to go. Still, I knew I shouldn't keep him, so I wrote out my blog URL and asked him to read and give me his reactions. He said he would. I warned him that in a couple of posts I had taken Bruce Hafen (former dean of the law school) and Dallin Oaks (founding dean of the law school) to task for things they'd said publicly. I'm curious to see if he finds and comments on those posts. Why do I feel like I've just turned in an exam and am waiting for my grade?

I stood to go. He said he was honored that I'd shared this part of my life with him, then went to the coat rack and held my coat so I could put it on. Like I said, the consummate gentleman. We shook hands, smiled, and parted. It won't be our last visit, I'm sure.

One of the great blessings of my life has been to know this talented, accomplished, disciplined, gracious, humble teacher who's inspired me to achievement and always led by example. His reaction to my little bombshell was typical of his constant effort to follow and emulate the Savior. So, knowing that at some point he may read this blog, I'd like to introduce all the rest of you to Professor David Thomas, a truly great man who I'm honored to call my friend.

26 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow #3

Chapter Three. Again, Mr. Bigelow's initial statement will be first, in italics. My questions to him will follow. His latest response to my questions will be next, again in italics.

3. "Today's gay identity is a huge deception, and it sets off many of [your] last-days alarm bells" and "from a Mormon viewpoint, the emergence of the gay movement is clearly a sign of the times."

Please define "today's gay identity" and explain how it is a "deception." Please also explain why you believe "the emergence of the gay movement is clearly a sign of the times."

Today's gay identity is the public movement that began in 1969 with the Stonewall riot. Of course, there's probably nearly always been some kind of underground gay subculture among humans, for those willful enough to pursue their deviant inclinations against their consciences and society's taboos, and I know that some societies have tolerated various forms of homosexual behavior to certain degrees, but starting in 1969 is the first time that such an organized, aggressive public campaign got underway to normalize gay behavior and get society to accept it and embrace it as an equal alternative to and total replacement for heterosexuality, which I don't think any society has ever done before, not even the ancient Greeks. And now we're seeing it reach new heights of aggressiveness with the gay marriage issue, the ultimate sign of full acceptance.

It's a deception because gay feelings don't come from God, they come from—or are amplified by—Satan as a way of thwarting the plan of salvation, eternal families, all that good Mormon stuff. He deceives people in many ways on this issue, such as that if someone feels gay attraction they should act upon it and start having oral and/or anal sex with their own gender, or that the gay situation is just like the black situation was and therefore we shouldn't stand in the way of gay civil rights, including full marriage, etc. etc. Personally, I think this whole gay brouhaha of the past 40 years is one of the key strategies that Satan has been carefully crafting and planning for these latter days, and now he's springing it on our civilization in a big, unprecedented way, because not only is it knocking many individuals out of the plan of salvation but it's also dividing our society along secular/religious lines.

I realize that most of what I say is just nonsense if you don't see the world through the Mormon lens, so conversations like this aren't very productive. But oh well, I'll soldier on...

24 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow #2

Chapter Two in the series. Again, first will be Mr. Bigelow's original statement. Second will be my questions to him in response. Third will be his latest reply. Mr. Bigelow's words will be italics.

2. Same-sex attraction and its difficult dilemmas are real, but they're not the world’s hardest challenge or even harder than some challenges within straight marriages, though some make it sound like mixed-orientation marriages are "absolutely unreasonable and undoable."

Please explain which challenges within straight marriages are more difficult to deal with than the homosexuality of one spouse, and on what evidence you base your claim.

Well, I don't believe in the 100% homosexuality of one spouse, or they wouldn't have or shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. But a spouse who feels some percentage of gay attraction, even if a majority of attraction at times, is the trial I'm thinking of. Compared to that, I think a wife's lack of any sexuality at all is just as hard or harder, and well as a husband's abuse (of course, husbands can be frigid and wives abusive). A couple losing a child or children may face a harder struggle than a couple dealing with one spouse's same-sex attraction. I think a couple with their own serious long-term health or financial struggles might have a worse time than a couple with a husband who has to resist gay attraction but is still also able to behave heterosexually.

23 January 2010

Once Again, Rugby Leads The Way

England's Rugby Football League has become the first national governing body of a major sport to sign up and support an anti-homophobia campaign in Britain. Inspired by former Australian rugby league player Ian Roberts - who came out as being homosexual in 1995 - the campaign is hoping to promote homosexual and bisexual equality in sport.

Posters and logos carrying the message, "Some people are gay. Get over it!" will be displayed at rugby league grounds, in programmes and fan zones, in a bid to lessen homophobic segregation. Forums will also be set up for gay, lesbian and bisexual players and staff.

For more on this inspiring story, go here. NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, when will you finally wake up and follow suit? Once again, the ruggers are out in front!

22 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow

The handful of frequent readers of this blog will remember that a while back I had an exchange with Mr. Christopher Bigelow, formerly on staff at the LDS Church flagship magazine The Ensign. He wrote at length some things about being gay that I thought were quite provocative. I replied here on my blog and asked him a series of questions.

Mr. Bigelow has now responded, and I will be posting each of his points of discussion in a series. As I promised him, I will post each of his statements 100% as he said them, without any change or amendment.

Here's the format. First will be Mr. Bigelow's original statement. Second will be my questions to him in response. Third will be his latest reply. Mr. Bigelow's words will be italics.

1. Homosexuality is "one of the most dangerous issues of our generation, with the potential of dividing our society as catastrophically as the slavery issue did back in the nineteenth century, if not more so."

Why do you consider it dangerous? Dangerous to what? Do you really believe it will generate armed conflict within the United States before some general consensus can be reached? What "more so" do you foresee that is worse than actual civil war?

I believe violence of various kinds will increasingly occur against those who resist the gay movement. With slavery, the status quo was slavery, and then reformers built up momentum to abolish it, and we ended up in the Civil War to decide it. In that case, the status quo was wrong and the reformers were right. With homosexuality, it's the opposite situation. The status quo has been a taboo against gay behavior, and now reformers are trying to get society to accept and embrace it, and I think it will lead to increasing conflict. And because our civilization has become more weak and permissive and immoral since the 1960s, I think the gay reformers will gain the upper hand on swaying public opinion, but a minority core of the religious will resist, and the situation could break out into actual violence, or certainly other forms of persecution and reverse-discrimination. I don't think it will be a formal civil war like the one in the 1860s because I think the big majority will be on the side of gay rights and our society just wouldn't do that kind of thing again, put on uniforms and fight against each other in an organized military way, but it will be an informal civil war on all kinds of fronts. We're already pretty much in an ideological civil war in our country, and the venues for battle will continue to increase.

By the way, I think discriminating against gay behavior is the correct thing for society to do to maintain the taboo and discourage people from giving in to their same-gender attractions. But we shouldn't discriminate against those who acknowledge they feel the temptation and want to resist it.

20 January 2010

Next Round With Dad

OK boys and girls, here we go again, the next chapter in the continuing dialogue.

A few posts back, I included a paragraph from my dad's latest letter in which he said the following:

"The core issue [is] that homosexuality is an abnormal sexual behavior in the broad sense of societies sexual practices. A socially healthy society does not condone abnormal sexual or moral practices (eg. Animals, children, satanic practices, prostitution, and same sex, etc) and remain healthy over a long period of time. You are a history aficionado and clearly know from your reading and study over your life what has happened to cultures that have stepped out of the mainstream of normal interpersonal behavior; they are not around anymore. As the statement goes: "A man is a fool who does not pay attention to his past...he is destined to repeat it." Love, Dad."

To which I have now written the following response which I submit for your review, consideration, and suggestions for improvement:


Thanks for your note, I'd like to respond to a couple of points you raised.

First is the definition of "normal." I don't know that you and I will ever agree on this. When we talked before, you said "normal" was "what most people do," so anything that a minority of people do would presumably not be "normal." And since gay people are not a majority, they're not "normal." If that is the definition of normal, then no Latter-day Saint is normal anywhere.

Let's put aside the particular percentages for a moment and look at the big picture. Since homosexuality has always been present in every civilization, we have to consider it a "normal" feature of the overall spectrum of orientation and behavior. The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have both called homosexuality "a normal variant of human sexuality." The fact that it may characterize a minority of people within the population pool isn't really relevant to this perspective. In this light, any civilization that truly had no homosexuality whatsoever would not be "normal."

"Normal" as a purely statistical measurement is one thing, and that's the tack you took during our face to face discussion last time. But now you're using "normal" as a measurement of morality to argue that civilizations which allow behavior that's not "normal" will perish as a result. This suggests that you impute a moral dimension to "normal" behavior just because most people do it.

With all due respect, here's why I disagree.

First of all, prophets of the LDS Church disagree amongst themselves about this. Spencer Kimball said "many cities and civilizations have gone out of existence because of" homosexuality. But he offered no evidence for his statement whatsoever. He wasn't a historian. He was an insurance businessman and entrepreneur who then became a full-time church leader.

President James Faust said that "so-called alternative lifestyles must not be accepted as right, because they frustrate God's commandment for a life-giving union of male and female within a legal marriage as stated in Genesis. If practiced by all adults, these life-styles would mean the end of the human family." This sounds exactly like some of the things you've said to me. And with all due respect to President Faust, nobody is talking about "these life-styles" being "practiced by all adults." You can't convert or recruit somebody to being gay, I'm sorry, but despite myths you may have heard, it doesn't happen. You're either gay or you're not. The process of coming out may look to some like a conscious choice or a conversion, but it isn't. It's merely self-discovery. So Pres. Faust is setting up a total fantasy as a straw man here.

But beyond that, the problem is that past LDS leaders have used essentially your same arguments against the heterosexual monogamy you now say is the only "normal" behavior that will save a civilization from ruin. In fact, President John Taylor called it "degenerate" and a "curse"! It can't go both ways, Dad. Here are some sample quotes:

"It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest lived nations of which we have record have been monogamic. Rome...was a monogamic nation and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her." - Apostle George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 202

"The one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people." - John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire....Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers." Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

"This law of monogamy, or the monogamic system, laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans,..." Apostle Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, page 195

All of this suggests to me that the early Church leaders, at least, blamed heterosexual monogamy for corrupting civilization. Not the gays. I'm curious to know the sources for your belief about this because my own study leads me to conclusions opposite from yours. Greece thrived for centuries while accepting homosexual behavior. The Roman empire didn't fall until long after Christianity became the state religion and started legislating the heterosexual monogamy that Brigham Young and other LDS leaders blamed for that downfall. I have a book called Civilization and Homosexuality, it's over an inch thick of exhaustive research into every civilization's treatment of homosexuality from the most ancient up through the 18th Century. I've seen nothing in it that justifies believing that homosexuality has brought down any society, let alone multiple ones. No civilization lasts forever, and all ultimately die out or collapse from a variety of factors.

So please tell me because I'm very interested. What is the basis for your belief that homosexuality has destroyed civilizations in the past? I'm not being snarky here, this is a sincere question. Because I just don't see the evidence. If you know something I don't, I'd be very happy to learn.

17 January 2010

Bullseye Series, Part Four

A running feature of this blog is the Bullseye Series, wherein I post insightful quotes or observations from other places around the Web. In this case, it's a reader's comment to this morning's news story that Iowa Republicans have introduced a bill in their state legislature to amend the Iowa state constitution and overturn the (solidly Republican) Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision that that constitution must allow marriage equality:

"What seems often in play is that people are afraid that at some level children will be taught that being homosexual isn't a bad thing. The push-back on that appears to be that people don't want to face their children in the future and have to explain why they want to tell others who they can call their spouse and why. Claiming it will hurt families is perhaps because they fear it will hurt their ability to control the ideals of the people in their own family, that their own sense of morality will come down to only their own opinion. I think there are some out there that can't stand that idea, rather they need to feel they are supported by something bigger and preferably well-armed. In short, they are fearful."

And another reader's comment in the same thread about the purpose of this whole exercise and which encapsulates the mainstream Mormon approach very nicely:

"Too many people reduce marriage to sex, which is really only a conservative religious concept. Conservative religions define marriage as the ecclesiastical permission to have sex. All the other aspects of marriage--joining finances, supporting one another, working toward common goals, can be undertaken even by religious people without having to have the blessing of marriage. Although the church claims that marriage is much more than sex, the only thing the conservative church seems to be worried about is granting permission to have sex. If on Friday, the unmarried couple has sex, the church frowns. After the Saturday wedding, the church celebrates when they have sex. This is an unfortunate dumbing down of a truly wonderful institution. Gays don't want to get married so they can have sex. They're doing it just fine without marriage. Gays want to get married because of the true meaning of marriage: Loving someone more than yourself, committing to that person for life, and desiring the benefits of governmental protections that provide children a stable home environment and a secure future for each of the spouses."

15 January 2010

Alan Comes Out Again

Today I gave my home teacher a big surprise. For readers who aren't Mormon, a "home teacher" is another Mormon church member in your local congregation who's assigned to check in with you at least once a month to see if you're doing okay, if you need any help with anything, to make sure you're not straying into heterodoxy, that sort of thing. It's mostly nice in concept, kind of spotty in practice. But mine is a personal friend in addition to his "official duties" so we get on well, and today we met for lunch, first time in many months.

I had determined some time ago to have this conversation with him. He knows of my very heavy travel schedule and that it's resulted in me not being seen at church for a while. He's very smart, intellectually inclined, an attorney like me, and not given to haste or prejudice. I wanted him to know the truth.

So after swapping war stories about work and workout routines and such, he asked when my current work engagement and travels might end and he'd see me at church again. That was the opening I needed. I told him that events of the last couple of years had caused some serious re-examination of my whole life and a lot of its fundamentals. One of those was how I felt about the church.

The divorce prompted a lot of that, I told him, because it's difficult to be a divorced dad in this church that's almost obsessed with intact families. But the other thing that's prompted a lot of re-examination was coming out of the closet. There it was. Bombshell.

He didn't bat an eye, or even blink. So I continued. I told him how during the Prop 8 campaign I'd practically put a hole through my tongue with my teeth while listening to hours of utterly fallacious fearmongering tripe at church. How my trust in senior LDS leaders was seriously damaged when I saw them on Youtube saying and claiming things that had already been completely disproven and the Church--or the research assistants who scripted their presentations--should have known it. How I'd completely separated basic gospel principles in my mind from the temporal delivery vehicle called the LDS Church and how I retained my faith in the former but not as much in the latter as I used to have.

I told him of my exhaustive research into the entire history of the LDS Church's dealings with the issue of homosexuality. About the gay General Authority in the 1940's who was installed when his history and propensities were already a matter of record, and how when he was released a few years later the Church took no formal disciplinary action against him whatsoever. I told him about the pogroms against gay Church members subsequently initiated by Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson and how the Church has since their time once again changed its stance and teachings from what they claimed was God's Truth About The Gays.

Given that fluctuating history, I told him, given the solid scholarship that persuades me the handful of relevant Bible verses do not justify the popular Christian condemnations, given the total absence of this topic from the uniquely LDS scriptural canon and from any binding prophetic statements, I told him I'd concluded that the Church simply didn't know what to say or think about this subject, that its leaders were preaching their own prejudices, and therefore, lacking clear, comprehensive, consistent and officially binding guidance, each individual gay Mormon had to seek his own inspiration and guidance for his own life.

To all this, not a word of protest or disagreement. Only acknowledgement that he'd never known much of what I said, and he appreciated how difficult this must be to wrestle with.

He asked if when my travels ended he would be seeing me regularly at church again. And I told him bluntly that I wasn't sure yet, for reasons he could probably figure out. He said he understood completely, and hoped that whatever I decided, we would stay in touch as friends regardless of any church affiliation. I assured him of that.

I've omitted lots of details, but that's the essence. He reacted as I expected and hoped he would, and for that I'm grateful. This afternoon I sent him this blog post for a deeper look into what had led me to this point, and invited his thoughts in response. I'm sure this will prove to be a very interesting conversation.

And now, lest you think I have lapsed back into insufferable seriousness again, I should point out two things. One, when he walked out to greet me in his oh-so-drab-and-professional office lobby, I was practically dancing in place while listening to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" on my iPhone (how gay is that). Two, watch this space for upcoming video of the twins going after each other with a supermarket shopping cart.

13 January 2010

Thoughts In Flight

Warning, this post is unvarnished stream of consciousness. Not everything I write is a cleanly packaged legal brief.

Sometimes I think I'm entirely too serious. I spend so much of my time wrestling with legal and business and philosophical and theological problems that it can be hard to shift gears and relax. As a single gay dad who travels on business more often than Larry Craig hits the restroom, it's almost impossible to start--let alone maintain--any reasonable post-coming out social life because I'm not in one place long enough or consistently enough to make the effort worthwhile. This means that when I'm not with the twins, and it's after hours, I tend to continue to work on this or that legal project or research or document drafting. The TVs in my hotel rooms gather dust. I live on my iPhone and laptops (yes, plural). Even on planes when I could be just reading a book or dozing or enjoying the view out the window, what do I do? Gotta stay productive! Write, write, write. It is incredibly difficult to turn the brain off at night; about the only thing that'll do it is one of a handful of total escape movies. And of course, as I type this I'm watching out of the corner of my eye the cutest flight attendant I've seen in a long time, passing out pretzels and peanuts. He's got biceps the size of tree trunks, a friendly smile, gracefully chiseled jaw, and a form-fitting white polo shirt that clings to pecs which do not occur in nature but can only be the result of thousands of hours at the gym. Another reminder of what's out of reach. Sigh.

I have now been doing this commute to work by plane thing for almost a year. My family comes from Scotland and the Celtic wanderlust is well-known, so I generally like traveling. But I think I'm approaching satiation. I will actually be at home for four full days this time before heading out again for nearly two weeks of travel, and by now I'm so much on auto-pilot that I think it'll be strange to consciously tell myself I don't have to pack again and leave within 24 hours. (Damn, I never knew watching somebody just hand out drinks from a tray could be so entertaining.) I will be glad to settle down at home again and take a breather when this engagement is finally over. Don't get me wrong, in today's economy I am very grateful to be in demand at a place like Apple. I know I'm extraordinarily blessed. But it has come at a price. I've had to give up time with my kids, time for myself, a lot of sleep, time on the beaches I love, time with friends. Time I could have spent exploring the brave new world I entered about 16 months ago. Oh boy, here he comes again. That new world which Mr. Heaven In A White Shirt teases me with, unknowingly. Could any straight boy actually look like that, choose that short, butch hair cut? Oh good, he finished that tray just short of my row, that means he's coming back. This is pathetic. I need to get settled down at home again and start socializing instead of living in this virtual world all the time. See what I mean about being too serious?

Maybe it's rugby deprivation. With all this travel, I haven't been able to resume playing since my broken arm healed. I miss it. Being out there on the pitch for three hours twice a week, pushing myself to the limit of physical endurance, running and passing that ball and yelling to teammates and slamming into tackles and shoving with every ounce of strength in mauls and scrums (and wrapping arms around the occasional teammate's butt, okay, okay, that too) fills up something primal inside that nothing else has ever satisfied quite so deeply. That's definitely one thing I'll be glad to resume when all this travel stops. Assuming the next assignment doesn't require me to be away from home on practice nights (which is already looking like a possibility. Damn).

Batting cages are a short-term solution. Maybe I should take the twins out miniature golfing tomorrow night someplace where I could whack a bunch of baseballs too. Planning our summer vacation helps a bit but that's still months and months off. Lots to slog through before then.

Amazing clouds on approach to San Diego. Like translucent puffy cotton balls in a big blanket, lit from underneath by a soft golden glow. And they don't sort of peter out either, they just stop half a mile inland and it's clear city lights. I fumble with my iPhone to try to snap a pic but they're out of range before the thing turns back on. Oh well. I love it when the plane banks and I tip against the window and look straight down. Weird to think that I feel totally safe yet there's less than six inches of metal and glass between me and certain death. Again, see what I mean about being entirely too serious? I can't even get out of the plane without client text messages and resuming phonecalls to schedule more meetings. Commercial leases and trademark litigation this time.

If I have my way, after this assignment's over, I'm gonna take at least a week, maybe two, and go do something totally different. Something someplace new. Hike the Cascades, maybe. Take a cruise to Mexico? Go hang out in New York? I'm gonna need somethin' to de-tox and de-stress before the next round starts. I need to relax. I need to do something wacky to unwind and get some balance back. I worry that right now I'm coming across to everyone as some ponderous stentorian stick in the mud. Somebody unutterably boring. I'm not like that, really. Somewhere inside I know there is still the kid who put a tack on his 5th grade teacher's chair, who with two classmates carried his high school music director through the hall of the administration building and stuffed him in a trash can outside the principal's office, who conspired with a college classmate to concoct and post a whole set of fake finals grades and caused havoc in the halls as a result, and who turned a law firm colleague's entire office--desk, bookshelves, books, everything--upside down early in the morning one April Fool's Day. I need to get him back.

Dang, there goes that flight attendant onto the hotel shuttle. Wish I could follow him. At least I'm going home though. For a few days at least.

11 January 2010

Latest Life Twists

You just never know who you're gonna run into these days. After all the miles I've flown over the past year, who did I end up sitting next to on today's flight? None other than former United States Senator Phil Gramm, who was one of presidential candidate John McCain's chief economic advisers and served in the House & Senate for some 24 years. I couldn't place him at first but I knew I recognized him, and said so. He smiled, said "I used to be a politician," then put out his hand and said "Phil Gramm." Of course. Facepalm. Former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Mentioned as a possible Secretary of the Treasury if McCain had won. Duh.

I didn't pester him too much during the flight, but we did chit-chat a bit. He says the Republicans are in a big mess of their own making and have nobody to blame but themselves. He's convinced they will gain strength in both houses of Congress this year. He quotes a friend who's been one of Mr. Obama's economic advisers as saying Obama knows "less than nothing about actually running a business or how markets work," but he wasn't elected because of his business acumen. Mr. Gramm believes all the fussing about various aspects of the health care bill are secondary to the main point, which is purely one of principle: in his opinion, Mr. Obama believes that the government should run health care. Simple as that.

In fact it was Senator Gramm who initiated the conversation as I sat down next to him and pulled out a book to read during take-off. It's called Sailing The Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter. He saw it and volunteered "Hey, that's a great book." As we prepared to get off the plane, he mentioned it again, and said that while he'd really enjoyed the book, there was just one thing about it. That author, he said, is "absolutely obsessed with homosexuality. He doesn't just talk about it a lot, it's like he can't not talk about it!" It was clear how he felt about the subject, and honestly I had no idea about that when I bought the book, it just looked really interesting. So I proceeded to tell him of my lifelong interest in classic civilizations and studies, Latin and Greek, how I read the Iliad for fun, and so forth. He seemed very pleased.

Obviously he didn't see the 3 x 3 Human Rights Campaign sticker on my laptop or the HRC symbol on my computer bag. Or if he did, he didn't recognize it. Would he have been quite so affable if he had? I love irony sometimes. We talked as we walked off the plane together and halfway to baggage claim, when he diverted to the restroom with a friendly smile and a "nice to talk with you."

On a note slightly closer to home, this past weekend I sent my dad a link to Newsweek's feature article by Proposition 8 opponent lead attorney Ted Olson called TThe Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. No commentary, just "Hey dad, Olson is as conservative as they get, LMK what you think of this."

Dad's response was a predictable re-hash of things he's said before without presenting any evidence as back-up: "Thanks for the reference. Interesting article but he does not deal with the core issue and that is that homosexuality is an abnormal sexual behavior in the broad sense of societies sexual practices. A socially healthy society does not condone abnormal sexual or moral practices (eg. Animals, children, satanic practices, prostitution, and same sex, etc) and remain healthy over a long period of time. You are a history aficionado and clearly know from your reading and study over your life what has happened to cultures that have stepped out of the mainstream of normal interpersonal behavior; they are not around anymore. As the statement goes: "A man is a fool who does not pay attention to his past...he is destined to repeat it." Love, Dad."

I have some ideas on how to respond but would welcome suggestions.

06 January 2010

Another Baby Step Toward Understanding

Several months ago I ran across a blog post at Mormanity all about reparative therapy and how being gay was at least in part a choice and change was possible and basically incumbent on every gay Mormon to try for with every ounce of strength, etc. in order to stay in harmony with the gospel. The author cited a number of organizations and studies for his propositions.

I know this blogger to be a person of good faith. So I responded to his post, told him why I disagreed with it, why I believed some of it was wrong, and the corrections I thought he should make to it. I never attacked him personally, I took issue only with his arguments and sources. He wrote back as follows:

"Just got to your thoughtful email. Very persuasive, gives me much to think about. For starters, could I put anonymous excerpts from your post on my page to provide balance and alternative perspectives? Heavy stuff - will take me some time to digest. Thank you for your patience and kind tone!"

Several months went by, and I expected he'd forgotten about it. Then, last Saturday while I was crawling through post-holiday traffic on the 15 (that one's for you, David) southbound from Las Vegas, my iPhone suddenly went ding ding, and guess what. It was his long-promised e-mail. Guess what it said.

"You have raised enough substantial issues that I have taken down the page that I had on recovery from homosexuality. Maybe I'll revisit the topic sometime with updated info and new insights - appreciate the guidance."

So props to Jeff Lindsay at the Mormanity blog for his intellectual honesty. Would that everyone were like him when dealing with this subject. And while I can't tell you all of his specific arguments or send you to his post anymore, I can share what I wrote to him. I'm in the business of arguing and persuading so it's always nice when I actually prevail. So for what it's worth, here's what did the trick (warning, this is long):

I just read through your page on homosexuality. Let me say before I give you my opinions that I'm a lifelong member of the Church, served an honorable mission, married in the temple, have children, have served in ward and stake leadership and in the temple. I have read extensively about all the materials you cite and more besides. I have read NARTH's materials at length, as well as other materials which take opposing views. I have devoted as much time to this issue as probably any other I've ever studied, because I have spent over two decades doing everything that NARTH and Journey Into Manhood (e.g. Ben Newman's story) and other reparative therapists recommend for "changing" from gay to straight. And guess what, Jeff. It didn't work. It was nothing more than a recipe for misery and a deepening sense of despair and worthlessness. It tore me apart inside. I did my best to act and think and perform in all the ways the Church said I should, but all it did was turn me into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I never broke the law of chastity; I was chaste before marriage and faithful during. I have been married but am no longer, and I continue to keep my baptismal and temple covenants.

But beyond that, Jeff, I have to tell you that I have studied in great depth everything your page talks about, and I disagree with just about all of it. And I'm not the only one. I have many gay friends in the Church who've done the same and reached my same conclusions. I have studied every verse of Biblical scripture that allegedly condemns homosexuality and read a ton of material about those verses. I am satisfied that people who know the scriptures a lot better than me or any LDS leaders have made an extremely compelling case that these verses do NOT mean what Mormons or other Christians normally take them for. Since the uniquely LDS scriptural canon says nothing whatever about this subject, the only possible conclusion is that LDS leaders have relied on the popular interpretations of Biblical verses for their own denunciations. Unfortunately, we saw this exact same pattern with issues of race and mixed marriages in the Church for a century and more, and the same outraged terminology was used for that issue as is now being used for issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Also identical was the absolute certainty that such racism was an eternal law and the unquestioned will of the Lord.

For years Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson of the Twelve pursued personal campaigns to "root out" homosexuals in the Church and caused untold suffering and even suicides as a result. I cannot accept such actions or consequences as either inspired or Christlike. Their absolutely certain descriptions and denunciations of this "condition" have since been shown to be completely wrong, and since then the Church has shifted its stance considerably on this issue. Since there has been no canonized "thus saith the Lord" revelation about it during that time, the only possible explanation for this shift is that it reflects the opinions of the leaders of the Church who can no longer deny the growing body of evidence that homosexuality is just not what so many of them thought and taught for so long. The Church's prior positions have become simply indefensible. As a result, Jeff, I no longer trust the Church on this issue. I believe its leaders are speaking from personal agendas and prejudice, not by inspiration. As with the century-plus fight against racial equality and the Church's vigorous opposition to civil rights, once again the Church seems to be fighting a rear-guard action against what I see as a long-overdue social change toward tolerance, acceptance, charitable understanding, and the elimination of an unjust prejudice. Inspiration does not change so conveniently in tandem with professional opinion and research. Even Whitney Clayton of the Seventy acknowledged that California members were free to disagree with the First Presidency's stance on Proposition 8 without any implications for their membership. If opposition to gay marriage were truly a matter of doctrine, he would not have said this, and Church members who advocated voting No could all have been hauled before disciplinary councils for apostasy. To the best of my knowledge, this happened to no one. This again tells me that the Church's position against same-sex marriage reflects the opinions of its leaders, not revelation.

As to the Spitzer study which you place such great faith in, all I had to do was go to Wikipedia to find the following: "Spitzer's study has been criticized on numerous ethical and methodological grounds. Gay activists argued that the study would be used by conservatives to undermine gay rights. Researchers observed that the study sample consisted of people who sought treatment primarily because of their religious beliefs, and who may therefore have been motivated to claim that they had changed even if they had not, or to overstate the extent to which they might have changed. That participants had to rely upon their memories of what their feelings were before treatment may have distorted the findings. It was impossible to determine whether any change that occurred was due to the treatment because it was not clear what it involved and there was no control group. Claims of change may have reflected a change in self-labelling rather than of underlying orientation or attractions, and particpants may have been bisexual before treatment. Follow-up studies were not conducted. Spitzer stressed the limitations of his study. Spitzer said that the number of gay people who could successfully become heterosexual was likely to be "pretty low". He also conceded that the study's participants were "unusually religious." I place no faith in studies like this and I believe that if you are as intellectually honest as you seem to be, you should update your page to acknowledge these significant shortcomings in Spitzer's work.

My own experience probably would have made me a prime candidate for that study. As I said, due to my religious convictions, for years I was absolutely and unquestioningly devoted to doing everything I could to eradicate every trace of my homosexuality. I did everything that leading reparative therapists recommend and more. And Jeff, it made not a dent. All it did was give me coping skills. The orientation never changed. I note even from your page's link to Ben Newman's story that Journey into Manhood does not promise "change" that consists of converting homosexuality to heterosexuality. All it offers is the "possibility" of what are essentially coping skills--which I accomplished on my own. But the essential orientation never changed, and I remained miserable, torn in two halves inside. For a long time I thought I was doomed to go to my grave with this incredible torture raging inside me, that feeling ripped apart inside was what God intended me to be lifelong.

After my marriage ended for other reasons, I finally realized it was time to stop fighting with myself. Since coming out I have felt happier and more at peace with myself and in my faith than at any other time in my life. I have made this a matter of significant prayer and am satisfied that God knows who and what I am and He approves. I still live by Church standards and teach my children faith in the Savior and the gospel. But as I said, I no longer trust the Church for guidance on this issue. It has been incredibly wrong before on more than one issue, and I am satisfied that it is wrong now on this one. If we truly believe the 9th Article of Faith, and accept Joseph Smith's word that even the apostles would try to kill him if he told them what he knew about how heaven worked, then I have to believe we are still yet to learn not only many "great and marvelous things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" but some which will seem shocking and scandalous to a lot of us as well.

I don't want to be straight. Trying to be that way made me nothing but miserable. After fighting with myself desperately for so long in order to comply with what the Church told me I had to be and want in order to be good enough, and finding none of the peace ostensibly promised as a result, I have finally found what I never thought I would have: total peaceful acceptance of how God made me. Coming out finally killed the hurricane in my heart. It has compromised none of my faith in the Savior or the fundamentals of the gospel. It has also convinced me that there is a place for God's gay children in His kingdom and that the Church just doesn't know much about that place yet. Personally I don't think the Church is ready. The Saints are still so wracked with homophobia and fear and prejudice of the kind that used to be rampant in the Church about racial issues that I wonder if I will see any resolution of this issue in my lifetime. But eventually it must happen. There is a huge, gaping hole and profound contradictions in the Church's historical knowledge and its teachings about this issue. Things didn't change with the race issue until the Church's back was basically to the wall and the members were ready for it. I think the same thing has to happen with the issue of homosexuality as well.

I believe God is much more loving and accepting of His gay children than most members of the Church, and that He is ready to give us a much better place in the eternities than most Church members now think. He could not possibly have made so many of us this way if this condition were intrinsically evil, or if its exercise were sinful if done in appropriate ways. I take the Church at its word; if the same standard of morality applies to everyone, then the Church should not punish its gay members who enter legal, lawful same-sex marriages. If it does, then it is re-defining the law of chastity as taught in the temple and signaling to the world that it will now pick and choose which laws it will "obey, sustain and honor." That will be a very dangerous precedent to set, and will signal to Church members that the Church itself feels justified in a smorgasbord approach to belief and exercise of faith. Apparently it already takes this approach, since despite Pres. Hinckley's General Conference statements about "one standard for everyone," gay couples on Temple Square and at BYU are subject to eviction and discipline if they do nothing more than the simple hand-holding or innocent kissing that straight couples enjoy all the time.

That story is a good illustration of why I have many gay friends who have found it intolerable to remain within a Church so obviously dedicated to fighting everything about who and what they are. Personally I intend to remain chaste until I marry again. But if I marry again, it will be to a man. My children are completely supportive and believe--without any programming or explanation from me--that the Church was wrong about Proposition 8 and that opposition to gay marriage is absurd. These are baptized children who have had every Primary and FHE lesson your kids have, Jeff, and they reached this conclusion entirely on their own, I assure you. They are the future of the Church. When my daughter first saw a "Yes on Proposition 8" sign, she had no idea what it was about, so she asked me. I explained it to her briefly in terms a 9 year old could understand, as objectively as I could, both pro and con. She thought for a moment and then said "How does two guys getting married hurt someone else's marriage?" If a 9 year old could see that so clearly, Jeff, without any prior knowledge of the issue whatsoever, then that tells me a lot about the pettifogging that Church members engaged in while fighting that campaign. Same-sex marriage is inevitable in this country and ultimately the Church will have to make its peace with that fact. It's only a matter of time.

I know and know of so many gay men, in and out of the Church, who have found partners that they clearly love just as much as I'm sure you love your wife. Their devotion and faithfulness to their partners is clear. The happiness and fulfillment they feel in these relationships is visible in their eyes, and can be seen and felt just being around them. Having seen this love for myself, I can never accept the Church's denunciation of these relationships as "ersatz" or "deceived" or any of the other unfortunate pejoratives I hear tossed around by the ignorant. I cannot believe that God wants me or them to forego such happiness and fulfillment in this life, as the price of . . . well, of what? All the Church offers is speculation on this point. Speculation that at some future day, all of us will be magically transformed into something we don't want to be and can't imagine ourselves being happy with anyway. One of my friends described the Church's position this way: "Condemn yourselves to a life of loneliness, and after this life we'll reward you with something you never wanted!"

Do you see, Jeff, why so many gay men leave a Church whose current teachings make it so difficult if not nearly impossible for us to find peace or happiness? There is simply no room not only for gay people, but for homosexuality itself in current Mormon theology. According to that theology, we should not exist. Yet we do, we always have, and we always will. The Church presents us with impossible, intolerable conundrums and asks that we simply trust our eternal destinies to its leaders' current speculations. Yet prior leaders said the same thing, and have been shown to be dreadfully wrong. How can we trust the current ones now?

Like you, I think abusive, hateful rhetoric or actions are deplorable from either side of this issue. I was just as upset with the vandalism and demonstrations and screaming abuse from same-sex marriage advocates after the Prop 8 votes as I was with the hateful rhetoric and wildly hysterical prejudiced rumor-mongering I heard almost every Sunday in my own ward. The fear and prejudice on both sides runs deep and I almost despair sometimes that it can ever be successfully overcome. Frankly, though, if one side is more to blame than the other, it is the Church and those who supported Prop 8. Mormon money did something unprecedented in American history: it successfully removed a recognized civil right from a specifically targeted minority group based on religious differences. As a lawyer I can tell you that that is an accurate description of the Prop 8 result. And it makes me ashamed of my own Church, frankly, especially when I hear the pious pretended surprise amongst Church members at the backlash. Are Mormons really that clueless, that insulated within their own little bubbles? Apparently so! Church members claim to hold themselves to a higher Christian standard than many same-sex marriage advocates. I don't like many of those advocates' tactics but at least they don't pretend to be followers of the Savior. The blatant ignorance, myth-mongering, prejudice, fear and hate actively spread by alleged LDS Christians are therefore more blameworthy in my book.

So, to sum up. The overwhelming weight of professional opinion is that reparative therapy to change sexual orientation does not work, and for the small minority of people whom it actually helps, it really only teaches coping skills, it does not result in a truly verifiable complete change of orientation. The Spitzer study had serious flaws and you should acknowledge that in an update on your page. I personally have found more peace and happiness and contentment since coming out as a gay Mormon than I ever had before while fighting myself to try to conform to what the Church relentlessly told me I should want and should be. I believe the Church is wrong in its current approach to this issue and that history will ultimately prove that to be so. I believe God has a lot more to tell us that will surprise many of today's homophobic Mormons who try to disguise their prejudices by claiming to love the sinner--which most don't--while hating the sin--which they revel in doing. As long as the Church's teachings, programs and culture continue to make it well-nigh impossible for gay Mormons to find peace in the Church, they will continue to stream out of it. I can't believe God is pleased with that. You may see that as simply giving up, giving in to the world, falling prey to Satan's enticements, letting go of the Iron Rod and getting lost in the mists of darkness. Well, Jeff, all I can say is that the witness of my own heart, and that of many of my gay friends, many of whom remain active in the Church, is otherwise. Our faith in the Savior and the fundamentals of the gospel has never been stronger than now, after we've come out. AND we do not want to be straight. We love being gay and would not want to change even if given the chance. We are absolutely confident that God knows that our hearts are this way and that He will provide for us every blessing possible, even if the Church can't quite explain how just yet.

I have it on trustworthy authority that there are significant differences of opinion amongst the Church's top leadership over this issue. I can't help thinking of President Hugh B. Brown, who as a member of the Twelve and First Presidency advocated for years that the priesthood ban should be scrapped while facing vigorous opposition from others like Harold B. Lee who swore that "no black man will hold the priesthood while I live." Pres. Brown too was far ahead of the Church on that issue, but eventually it happened despite the opposition of people like President Lee. Again, Jeff, such anecdotes persuade me that the Church's current position about homosexuality and same-sex marriage reflects only the current understanding and prejudices of its leaders, who, I will be bold to say, are like most of the rest of the Church in not being ready yet for new light or knowledge that may completely upend what they always "knew" to be true. But that must happen sometime. The Church simply can't continue with this issue as it's done to date. More and more Church members, gay and straight, are publicly breaking ranks with the official line. When that reaches critical mass, as it did with the race issue, something will happen. That's always been the pattern. It has to happen again.

Thanks for reading.

05 January 2010

A Visit From Mr. Bigelow #9 and #10

Him first in italics, then my questions, then his responses in italics again.

9. "If the Church ever says it's acceptable for people to give in to their gay inclinations, then I'm going to go ahead and start giving in to my inclinations to, for example, enjoy intoxicants once in a while, which I naturally would like to do but don't do because it's not in harmony with the gospel and because its unholy and impure, which also applies to gay sex."

Straw man fallacy. Please explain what you mean by "giving in to gay inclinations". Please also explain why you believe alcoholic drinks are "not in harmony with the gospel" and are "unholy and impure." How do you reconcile your statements with the fact that Joseph Smith and other general authorities regularly drank alcoholic drinks throughout their lives, including the Quorum of the Twelve who used wine when taking the Sacrament in the Salt Lake Temple until early in the 20th Century?

What do I mean by giving in to gay inclinations? Um, having sex with someone of one's own gender. (Duh?) The problem with alcoholic drinks is that society is very permissive today, and when we drink our inhibitions are lowered, and so it's very easy to get caught up in sins when intoxicated, much easier than 100 years ago, when even drink would not usually remove enough inhibitions to go against strong societal taboos. Also, alcohol is obviously addictive and damaging in of itself, regardless of other sins that it promotes, and it has no redeeming qualities as an intoxicant other than pleasure. We live in a very different world now than the earlier LDS did, and revelation has tightened up in order to help us survive morally in a much wickeder world. I think many sexual sins are committed, both gay and straight, in connection with alcohol.

10. "While homosexuality is more complicated than most vices, it's still at heart a vice to be resisted, not someone's real identity that can provide eternal happiness, even if some temporary earthly companionship and sexual gratification can be found in living gay."

Please explain the basis for your belief that the quality of homosexuality itself is a "vice to be resisted."

I could have worded that more carefully. Gay sex is the vice to be resisted. Homosexual feelings are a mortal problem or weakness or temptation that don't become a vice unless and until they are acted upon. Homosexual feelings are not given by God, in my opinion, so they must come from somewhere else. They are caused by confusions of various kinds, exacerbated by very real temptations from an outside spiritual influence called the devil.

04 January 2010

Loaves and Fishes, Reversed

Exhaustive analysis of exit polls conducted in Los Angeles County has led to the inescapable conclusion that the vote count for Proposition 8 (the ban on same-sex marriage) may have been corrupted. The data were drawn from questionnaires filled out by 6326 voters at 10 polling places scattered across Los Angeles County, and were properly adjusted to match the gender, age, race, and party affiliation of the electorate.

For Proposition 4 (which would have required parental notification and a waiting period for minors seeking abortions), the official results differ from the adjusted exit poll data by only 0.64%. But for Proposition 8, the disparity between the official results and the adjusted exit poll data is 5.74%, enough to affect the margin by 11.48%.

Because Los Angeles County comprised 24.23% of the statewide electorate, an error of that magnitude would have affected the statewide margin by 2.78%, accounting for most of the official 4.48% statewide margin of victory.

There were not enough Republican voters to account for the disparity between the exit poll and the official results even if every Republican non-responder voted for Proposition 8. The Edison-Mitofsky exit poll showed a similar disparity statewide, indicating that altered vote counts may not be limited to Los Angeles County.

Is this bona fide, or is it evidence of a Bradley Effect for marriage equality? Read more here.

03 January 2010

No, THIS is the place

I admire all those with the constitution to endure and even enjoy cold, snowy winters. I've lived for over a decade total in such places so I'm not some untested weather wimp. I admit that it was a nice change of pace to leave palm trees and warmth behind to once again experience the bracing wind and snowy winter chill. That said, it was also deliciously, sensuously delightful to step outside onto the patio this morning in shorts and a t-shirt and feel the just barely cool soft sea breeze kissing my skin, to savor the sunshine, the green grass and trees. And to realize that it's January!

Like I said last post, the only thing that could have torn me away from this place was the prospect of an even better kind of warmth. And in that sense, the trip was a resounding success. Meeting with old friends and new, bookstore browsing with a friend, dinner and a movie with another friend, lunches with two others, even some robust but always respectful jousting with my MTC teaching companion about a particular issue on which he, as an orthodox but practical & savvy TBM, has a predictable opinion but he also isn't afraid to concede that the Church's knowledge is incomplete and the situation cries out for better communication and reconciliation. That was certainly more refreshing than the air in the Salt Lake Valley for the first couple of days: a classic inversion kept the place shrouded in fog and mist so that it was practically claustrophobic. But by 31st December it was sunny and beautiful and actually warm enough to go without a jacket for brief periods. Even the weather god's tantrums don't last forever.

One experience in particular is worth sharing. David and I met for lunch one day to plan our next nefarious advocacy adventure. As luck would have it, the instant our waiter walked away after his initial 30 second spiel, I looked at David, he looked at me, both of us with eyebrows raised and half smiles, and I said "Family?" David said "Ah, yeah, I think so, let's wait and see for sure." Waiter came back with drinks and began fawning over us. Obviously three gaydars were all working overtime. When he walked away again, David looked at me with a big smile and said "Family!" This happened half a dozen times again during the course of the meal (including the "Family!"), by the end of which said waiter had contrived to touch us both, shake our hands, fuss over us far beyond what a normal waiter does, tell some jokes, and practically beg for an opening to volunteer his phone number. So we left a generous tip and personalized notes for him on the check, and I included the HRC logo just in case he had any doubt. Them boys are everywhere, Edna!

It was wonderful to see so many friends over the course of those three days, especially at the New Year's Eve party. Thank you Scott & Sarah for once again opening your home, you are both angels of generosity to make it possible for all of us family members to get together and share good times and laughter and love. To all my friends & family that I saw during this trip, thank you for helping to make the last 16 months of my life happier in many ways than any part of life before. I love you all very much and consider myself blessed that you would allow me to be part of your lives.

So now the new year starts. Everybody's making resolutions. Gyms and health clubs are seeing the predictable temporary spike in membership and activity before it slowly starts to taper off again. I like new years. I always feel refreshed after the holidays and ready to re-engage with new energy. And there is a lot to do this year, much of it in the pipe already. Watch this space for updates.

Oh, and welcome to my nephew Conner, about whom I've spoken to some of you. He wanted to read the blog, and after due consideration, I thought why not let him see what his uncle's been up to for the last while. So here it is, Con Man. Welcome to my alter-ego on-line space, which will also introduce you to my "other family."