Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec. 20 "Freedom to Marry Day"

by Brig Bagley

29 December 2014

On December 20th, Utahns gathered to celebrate the 1st anniversary of legal same-sex marriage in Utah at the Trolley Square mall. SLC Mayor Becker deemed the day "Freedom to Marry Day", to continually celebrate the equal rights of anyone to marry their one true (of consent) love, irregardless of gender.

Polls still show that it is closely split between approval and disapproval of same-sex marriage in Utah, but that the trend is still growing to accept it. Additionally, however, desires for laws that add explicit protections to religions as a defense of the marriage victory have grown.

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Federal Government Contractors Cannot Discriminate against LGBTQ

by Brig Bagley

10 December 2014

As a result of President Obama's executive order about 4 months ago, any companies that benefit from US tax dollars will be prohibited to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Whether seeking a job or employed, millions of LGBTQ US citizens can now rest assured that they are safe from discrimination.

It will still take a lot of time before congress will draft bills to protect all workplaces in the US from such discrimination. But we can see that goal become a reality city and state at a time as local governments are passing such laws.

Read more here:

Arkansas Finds Marriage Equality

by Brig Bagley

10 December 2014

On December 4th, a federal judge ushered same-sex couples in Arkansas to the marriage equality parade. The ruling is stayed, pending a state appeal to the 8th District Court, one that hasn't made it to the Supreme Court, yet.

35 States currently allow SSM, while 15 still ban it completely. The remaining 10 are in line to see the results of current lawsuits.

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Utah Pays Out to SSM Plaintiffs

Plaintiffs Tony Milner and Matthew Barraza leave federal court on Wednesday after arguments in a lawsuit over recognizing same-sex marriages in Utah.

by Brig Bagley

26 November 2014

The state of Utah has agreed to pay the legal fees for the lawyers that represented the plaintiffs in the two cases regarding SSM in Utah. These lawyers knew there was a possibility that either they would lose the case, or that the state would refuse to pay the legal fees upon a win. To their satisfaction, Utah has settled with $95K, nearly half of the $200K request. In addition, Utah will be obligated to recognize SSM indefinitely, unless the SCOTUS overturns the ruling in the future.

This means that in addition to the $200K the state spent on fighting same-sex marriage, it now has spent $95K, totaling $295,000 of tax-payer money going to the cases concerning SSM. On the plus side, the issue is finally resolved in Utah. Any changes (very unlikely) would be a result of federal intervention.

Read more here:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Montana Receives Equality in Marriage

by Brig Bagley

20 November 2014

Montana residents are now free to marry without regard to gender. Since the 9th District Court has already ruled in favor of SSM, and the US Supreme Court did not take up any of its cases, there is no hold on the ruling and marriage licenses could be issues immediately. The state may appeal to the 9th Court, but whether it will or not is not yet known.

Read more here:

All States in District 6 Appeal Federal Court Decision

by Brig Bagley

20 November 2014

The plaintiffs in Michigan and Kentucky fighting for SSM joined with Tennessee and Ohio to file appeals to the 6th Circuit court decision that upheld discriminatory bans against gay marriage. 

The Supreme Court of the US is under no obligation to take the appeals, but is likely to get involved with this new split in court decisions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Utah's SSM Plaintiffs Seek Attorney Fees from Utah

by Brig Bagley

12 November 2014

Now that the dust has settled from the Kitchen vs. Herbert case and its following sister case, the plaintiffs are asking the state of Utah to cover their attorney fees. Utah has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting marriage equality. The plaintiff attorneys are demanding extra recompense for the case, despite their initial agreement to work for free. Several fundraisers were thrown to help pay for the plaintiff's case and cover as much as possible for the help of the attorneys fighting for marriage equality. 

The Utah attorney general's office consider the request unreasonable. The courts involved in the cases will need to rule as to who is responsible for the fees.

South Carolina Sees Marriage Equality

by Brig Bagley

12 November 2014

South Carolina succeeded in its quest for marriage equality. A statement in the ruling reads:

“The truth is, laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families. Ultimately the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.”

The dominoes continue to fall, even if slowly.

Read more here:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Missouri First for Marriage Equality in 8th District

Missouri Breaking

by Brig Bagley

10 November 2014

Another win for equality in Missouri. This is the first federal ruling on the issue in the 8th District.

Polls continue to show increases in support for marriage equality across the country. Although localized states may still be against it, a popular vote does not trump what is unconstitutional.

Read more here:

6th Circuit Court Upholds Anti-Gay Legislation

Shame On Sixth Circuit

by Brig Bagley

10 November 2014

The first of several federal circuit courts to break the trend, the 6th Circuit Court upholds bans on Same-Sex Marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. With this split in federal court decisions, it becomes more likely and more important for the US Supreme Court to weigh in.

The decision was a split 2-1 in favor of the ban. The majority opinion stated that states have the right to determine the requirements and restrictions for marriage. This includes the ability to do so at the expense of many same-sex couples.

The plaintiffs can decide to appeal to the full 6th circuit court, or directly to the SCOTUS.

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Republicans Reign over Senate and House

by Brig Bagley

5 November 2014

The elections yesterday ended in a super win for republicans. Now a majority of republicans in both the House and the Senate, President Obama faces great opposition. We will see more republican legislation pass in both the house and the senate, as well as Obama using his veto often. The republican agenda will repeal much of Obama's healthcare act, add more corporate kick-backs, and cut many other government-spending programs. Obama will also face difficulty in lifetime judicial appointments, especially in the US Supreme Court.

Although the opposition in the legislative and executive branches will most certainly rise, checks and balances will continue to rule the country. It will be an interesting two years for Obama's final term as president. Since it is common for the parties to take turns in the White House, we may face a republican super majority in all areas of government in 2016--a complete switch from democratic control in 2009.

Read more here:

Religion is Taking Over Politics

by Brig Bagley

5 November 2014

Polls and numbers are seeing religion as one of the highest motivators for political involvement in voters in the last few years. A majority of republican voters are weekly church-goers. Although non-white religious voters overwhelmingly vote democrat, the number of republicans in office now have churches to thank.

The IRS forbids churches from endorsing political candidates at the pulpit, but even so, a rise from 30 in 2008 to 1,600 this year did so anyway. Church leaders are expected to encourage members to be politically active and vote their conscience, but recommending specific candidates is political fraud.

The IRS isn't expected to enforce the rule currently, but it appears that church leaders want it to happen. Because religion is becoming the main motivator to vote for or against certain people and policies, churches want to fight to be directly involved. If the IRS punishes churches, they will take the issue to the Supreme Court. If the laws are struck down, churches could have the freedom to be as politically involved as they please.

If the religious movement in bipartisan voting continues as it does, the US could resemble more of a theocracy than a democratic republic.

Read more here:

Kansas is Last State to Strike Down SSM Ban in 10th District

In this photo provided by Liz Dickinson, Kelli, left, and Angela pose for a picture after their wedding ceremony at the Johnson County Court House in Olathe, Kan., Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (Liz Dickinson-Snyder/

by Brig Bagley

5 November 2014

Yesterday, a federal judge struck down Kansas' ban on SSM, making it the final state in the 10th District Circuit to do so. Kansas has a week to appeal the decision (which was put on hold), for which the state Attorney General plans to do. Since the 10th District Court has already affirmed that the bans were unconstitutional for both Utah and Oklahoma, they will likely not take the case. Similarly with the US Supreme Court when the state again appeals to it. However, it is not guaranteed.

The appeals process will make Kansas wait even longer to appreciate the freedom to marry irrespective of gender. But the writing is on the wall... each state will go through this process and legalization of SSM will come around one state at a time.

Read more here:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Social Security Allows for Same-Sex Couple Name Changes

Utah Social Security relents – grants same-sex couples name changes

by Brig Bagley

24 October 2014

All same-sex couples legally married in Utah (whether in the Dec-Jan window earlier this year, or since the Oct. 6 SCOTUS decision) may now petition and receive social security cards with their new married names. The confusion was in respect to the marriages during the window where it was legal to marry in Utah, but before the SCOTUS stepped in to issue a stay. Because of the lawsuit that related to the legitimacy of those marriage licences, social security workers refused to process those requests.

It appears that the policies were updated to include all the dates for which SSM was legal.

Read more here:

Utah Supreme Court Grants Same-Sex couple Adoptions

by Brig Bagley

24 October 2014

Following the series of cases being dropped on account of the US Supreme Court refusing to take on any of the gay marriage lawsuits, the Utah Supreme Court has decided to lift the stay that prevented married same-sex couples from adopting each others' biological children.

It is also unclear, now that SSM is legal, if married same-sex couples may adopt non-biological children in joint custody in Utah. The law details have wordings that state "legally married couples", as well as "placed with a married man and woman". There is probably still some work to be done to include the now-legal same-sex unions in all adoption situations with opposite-sex unions.

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Increased Support for Anti-Discrimination, Religious Exceptions

by Brig Bagley

22 October 2014

The most recent Poll shows that support for non-discrimination bills in the State of Utah has risen since August. But the sway is mostly in people that previously "somewhat opposed" the legislation.

In addition, a majority of Utahns believe that adding a religious exception is necessary. This would mean that any individual would legally be able to openly deny services and housing to someone solely because of their sexuality or gender identity because it is against deeply-held religious beliefs.

Adding this exception would completely undermine the purpose of the bill, since the huge majority of discrimination against LGBT people comes from religious people. It appears that religious people are choosing this one "sin" to be greater than all others, since doing business or housing people that drink, have premarital heterosexual sex, that get divorced, or are unfaithful isn't a problem. Clearly homosexuals are enemy number one for the religious.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gay Marriage Gains Popularity in Utah


by Brig Bagley

21 October 2014

A follow-up poll taken on the acceptance of gay marriage in Utah was released just this week. While 3% more of Utahns support gay marriage than in August, 9% fewer people consider themselves "strongly against" gay marriage. In just two months, and considering the Supreme Court ruling, this is considered a huge change.

Some believe that a recent LDS conference talk asking members to accept the law and be civil to their neighbors, even if it is against their beliefs.

It is most likely adherence to the Supreme Court ruling that has changed the minds of Utahns. But as acceptance is growing nationally, and more states are seeing SSM legal, the trend is only expected to continue.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gay Marriage Opponents Have Lost

by Brig Bagley

14 October 2014

In a recent debate, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council went against SSM advocate Ted Olson. Perkins stated that the two primary arguments against SSM are (1) Marriage is about children, for which gays cannot naturally produce, and (2) SSM is a slippery slope to polygamy or other alternative unions. Olson argued that marriage has been ruled in court to be a fundamental right between two people. In response, Perkins insisted that it can't be because it isn't "normal".

It appears that because anti-gay people don't think it's "normal" to be gay or in a homosexual relationship, that such should be illegal. But since a religious belief or a personal belief (for that is where this idea originates), it cannot be legislated.

There is no concrete evidence that homosexual relationships affect heterosexual ones. Nor are there studies that state that gay parents are less capable of raising children. Finally, legalizing or condoning homosexuality does not encourage or create any more frequently than homosexuals than the current rate.

Read more here:

Catholicism Proposes Inclusion of Gays

by Brig Bagley

14 October 2014

In recent religious meetings, Catholic leaders are posing questions that ask if same-sex couples and gay people can still be included in the church without compromising Catholic beliefs. The documents state that gays have "gifts and qualities to offer".

Previous Popes and Cardinals have stated that homosexual relationships are "living in sin", but some leaders are avoiding this wording and are seeking to soften their stance.

Some experts are calling this an "earthquake" announcement, since the Vatican has been one of the greatest opponents to homosexuality in the recent past. It makes you curious if and when the LDS church might do just the same down the road.

Read more here:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Alaska SSM Ban Struck Down

by Brig Bagley

13 October 2014

This past weekend, a federal judge struck down Alaska's ban on same-sex marriages, one of the first in place in the US with Hawaii. The state governor plans on appealing, stating that the issue is still in flux, but the 9th Circuit recently ruled in favor of SSM in the Nevada and Idaho cases, making the chances slim to none that it will take on the case. 

This now makes SSM officially legal in 31 states. There are cases in the remaining 19 states that will likely follow the same path. At this rate, the entire US might see SSM legal within a year even without the US Supreme Court weighing in. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Rally to Celebrate SSM

by Brig Bagley

10 October 2014

To celebrate recent victories in the courts legalizing gay marriage for now 30 states, there will be a rally and memorial at Washington Square in SLC tonight at 6pm. Attend if you can!

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Updated Status of Same-Sex Marriage and Aftermath

by Brig Bagley

8 October 2014

As seen above, 30 states can now practicing legal same-sex marriage. Wyoming, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina are in the process of issuing the licenses. The remaining states still have a ban in tact, but there are cases in all of them challenging the bans. 

If the circuit districts still awaiting appeals and decisions do strike down the bans, the respective states should expect immediate legalization since the US Supreme Court likely won't take the appeal.

If a ban is upheld, SSM will pend on the SCOTUS taking the case (which will likely happen with dissent in the lower courts.)

Since the SCOTUS decision, Utah has started issuing same-sex marriage licences again, and Sean Reyes sent a memo saying that all institutions that require marriage licenses to provide benefits need to make all necessary changes to abide by the new law. This includes health, legal, and adoption institutions. Gov. Herbert and AG Reyes disagree with the decision, but held true to their promise to follow the law. They have also decided to drop the appeal to recognize previous marriages in December since that case is now moot with the Supreme Court rejection.

Adoptions in Utah are still not allowed for same-sex couples IF none of the parents are biologically related to the child. This shows that there are still steps to take for full equality. Many Utahns have conceded (albeit disappointed) to the same-sex marriage issue, but fervently oppose the adoption and raising of children by gay couples. 

Finally, there are now more steps taken to prevent discrimination against LGBT in the state of Utah in housing and the workplace. It will likely be heard in January at the next session. On the bill might be exemptions for clergy and government officials that perform marriages and have religious objection to the marriage. But legal specialists argue that a personal religious view is not an excuse to reject civil duties, nor does it give a right to reject services to gay people. Clergy will almost certainly be given that exemption if they so choose. Some argue that this anti-discrimination bill is a slippery slope to other exceptions, but that argument is recycled and holds little weight in the eyes of legal experts.

SLC Gets a "God Loves Gays" Billboard!

by Brig Bagley

8 October 2014

A mere 4 days before the deadline, the "God Loves Gays" project made the goal of $100k, which promises a billboard in SLC displaying the above logo. The two largest billboard companies have already rejected offering any of their billboards to the campaign, but there are still several other options to explore. Congratulations! It couldn't come at a better time now that same-sex marriages are again legal, recognized, and being performed in Utah.

See the campaign here:

by Brig Bagley

8 October 2014

Idaho and Nevada are now part of the team! The 9th Circuit affirmed that the bans in NV and ID were unconstitutional, granting them the ability to issue Same-sex marriage licenses. Nevada has already decided to take no further action, and Idaho is considering its options. Both are preparing to accept the court's mandate to issue licenses. Since the US Supreme Court rejected hearing existing appeal cases related to the issue, it is unlikely that Idaho will call for an appeal.

Read more here:

Monday, October 6, 2014

US Supreme Court Rejects SSM Cases, Immediately Legal for Respective Jurisdictions

by Brig Bagley

6 October 2014

Although anti-climactic, the US Supreme Court's decision to avoid the 5 same-sex marriage cases before it has immediately legalized marriage for same-sex couples in the states that fall under the 5 cases. Marriage licences may be a few days for issued, but all stays pending the SCOTUS's decision are now expired.

This means that Utah must continue to issue marriage licenses, recognize same-sex marriages (local or otherwise), and provide means for adoptions for said couples. Other states included in this monumental decision include Oklahoma, Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin. The other states within the cases' circuit courts will also be affected.

This now makes SSM legal in 30 states and Washington DC, allowing up to 60% of US citizens to marry the same gender if they choose. There are still several cases in the remaining states that have yet to be heard at the circuit level. These cases may also appeal the US Supreme Court, delaying their respective legalization of SSM until the SCOTUS decides what to take again a year from now. However, their current decision will dissuade appeals to them unless a conflicting ruling takes place.

They might yet take a case in the future, especially if there is a conflict. But for now, most of the US can enjoy the rights and benefits of marriage irrespective of gender.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Straight Mormon Protests At Traditional Marriage Rally

by Brig Bagley

30 September 2014

Justin Anderson somehow made it into one of the top posted photos of the traditional marriage rally at the Utah Capitol just a couple weeks ago. The anti-gay rally was focusing on de-legitimizing any same-sex marriages and parents to "protect the rights and futures of children." Using pictures of real Utahn same-sex couples, rally speakers slandered the families saying the children will "pay the price" for the unions of same-sex parents.

One of the only protesters at the rally, Anderson held his ground--despite the hateful comments and sneers from some of the traditional marriage supporters. He says that because of the publicity of this particular photo, he has lost friends and has received criticism for his membership as a Mormon and support of marriage equality.

There are many other Mormons that support marriage equality, but fear to stand up for it because of its unpopularity in LDS culture. Not to mention its direct mention by particular apostles of the church.

I attended a previous rally similar to this one. There were plenty of protesters with me at that time. The feeling wasn't quite the same as the rally just the other week (as described by the article), but it was clear there was much discomfort on both sides of the argument. Traditional marriage supporters were uncomfortable with two men holding hands, but we were uncomfortable being surrounded by hundreds of people that believe our lives were inferior and sinful.

May many more straight LDS people take a stand for equality and not let their religion rule the government and inhibit equality in family rights.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Louisiana is Redeemed

by Brig Bagley

23 September 2014

Recently, a federal judge ruled in favor of a SSM marriage ban in Louisiana. Just yesterday, a state judge heard a case for a lesbian couple that was married in California. The case centered around one mother's right to adopt their child and to alter the birth certificate to include both mothers. The state judge granted this to the mothers using the 14th Amendment, due process, and the Equal Protection Clause.

The state's attorney general plans on appealing the decision.

Read more here:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Let Me Explain Myself

by Brig Bagley

22 September 2014

I was surprised to hear that my mother found this blog. She is a devout Mormon and a mother anyone would be lucky to have. She is also very sensitive to some of my more biting comments about the LDS Church, for which I'd like to apologize. My mom represents a large population that may or may not also come across this blog, and I don't want to further entrench feelings of distaste for gay people.

Although I express my feelings honestly here, I sometimes carelessly disregard the old perspective that I used to have. I used to defend and love the LDS religion to the very end. It was my life and I knew nothing else. But as soon as I could no longer fit into the box that it very clearly prescribes, I left the LDS Church and started exploring other options and beliefs for my life.

I admit, what I learned of the LDS Church since leaving it disturbed (and still disturbs) me, enough to instill a good amount of distaste for it. But I want to clearly state that I did not experience much of the pain and suffering that others have. I have little to no anecdotal experience from my own childhood to discredit any of the good people in my life--almost all devout Mormons.

What I fight for now is for change that will improve the lives of other Mormon people--child, teen, or adult--that do suffer from the unavoidable consequences of living with homosexuality or gender identity situations that are in direct conflict with their life as a Mormon. The policies, teachings, and positions of the church and some of its members sometimes creates an unhealthy environment for these people, which causes the emotional pain and suffering for which I discuss on this blog.

I hope that society advances and pressures change in the LDS Church to support and protect these very real people--its own members included. Although Mormons fervently believe that God's law never changes, the policies of the church do change. It is known that a traditional family is a declaration of the modern church leaders. But so also was polygamy, preventing blacks from receiving certain ordinances, and the minimizing of the women's involvement in church leadership. Those have all changed, and it is also probable that policies concerning LGBT may also change. In fact, they already have.

There are no scriptures that elaborate on LGBT issues. Most of the Bible policies aren't accepted as useful today, either--so anything against homosexuality in there is selectively and subjectively chosen to be taught as still valid today. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants / Pearl of Great Price that hints on this issue. In short, any official policies and teachings on LGBT issues are declared by modern prophets/apostles, and can just as easily be "undeclared", as the policies mentioned above were.

I will do my part to be more sensitive about those who still avidly participate in the Mormon Church. But I also hope I can be informative and persuasive concerning the change that needs to happen in Utah and the LDS Church to help and improve the lives of LGBT people and their families.

Gay Families Upset that Traditional Marriage Rally Used their Photos

by Brig Bagley

22 September 2014

At another rally against same-sex marriage, man-woman-only marriage supporters gathered to discuss and celebrate their opposition to the redefinition of marriage. Speaker Mary Sommerhays apologetically used photos from a SSM rally depicting two same sex couples and their children.
Summerhays displayed a picture of a lesbian couple from Salt Lake City holding up their baby girl in a press conference. 
"These children are being created for the purpose of never having a father," a passionate Summerhays told the crowd. "It strains the credibility of the courts to suggest that children must give up their most formative relationships when they get in the way of adult relationships."
When confronted with the use of the pictures to slander the families, she simply responded:
"These photos are from a public pro-gay marriage press conference at the Capitol and were featured repeatedly in the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune beginning as early as Jan. 10 … and illustrate that a child will lose at least one biological relationship when it comes into conflict with a same-sex marriage. Any privacy concerns should be addressed to the many newspapers that featured their stories so prominently and inserted their names repeatedly without my knowledge." 
Executive director of Equality Utah, Marina Gomberg responded:
"It is a disgrace to use our families for a misguided and debunked view of what is best for children. It is one thing to disagree with the freedom to marry; it's quite another to go after loving parents and their children at a political rally. That is not an example of the family values in which Utahns take deep pride."

 Read more here:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

God Loves Gays Billboard in Salt Lake City, UT

‘God Loves Gays’ billboard may hit Provo

by Brig Bagley

16 September 2014

A campaign in favor of SSM has successfully raised the funds to put up a billboard in Topeka, Kansas right by the Westboro Baptist Church, an infamous anti-gay church in the US. The billboard is only signed through March 2015, pending responses of the billboard. If the group is able to raise $100k (it is currently at $92k) within 30 more days, it will have enough money to erect the same billboard in Salt Lake City, UT. (The article below incorrectly states that it will be erected in Provo, UT.)

It is a stretch goal, but it would certainly be a feat if the group succeeds. No doubt, there will be quite the controversy once it goes up.

If you wish to donate for this cause, visit :

Read more here:

Weber State to Debate on SSM

Weber State to debate same-sex marriage as part of Constitution Week

by Brig Bagley

Weber State will be celebrating the Constitution of the United States this week with a number of events and debates. A debate on Same-Sex Marriage and how it pertains to the US Constitution will take place Thursday, 9/18 in the Elizabeth Hall Room 229 from 1:45-2:45pm. William Duncan of the Center for Family will be representing the Sutherland Institute will argue against SSM, and Clifford J. Rosky, a professor of law at the University of Utah, will argue in favor of SSM.

If you're in the Ogden area, or are interested in the debate, be sure to stop by. Especially if you are a WSU student.

Read more here:

Anti-Gay Rally At Utah Capitol Thursday

Anti-marriage equality rally to be held Thursday at Utah Capitol Rotunda

by Brig Bagley

16 September 2014

"Celebration of Marriage" (CoM), along with speakers from the Sutherland Institute and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), have combined to hold a rally at the Utah Capitol at 7pm, Thursday, September 18th. The meeting will focus on "activist judges" overruling the will of the people in Utah. The rally hopes to instill action in Utahns to speck and act against all steps towards marriage equality.

In 2004, Utah voted 66% in favor of banning same-sex unions of any kind. Now up for the Supreme Court of the United States to take, it is possible for a ruling to either strike down all same-sex marriage bans, or to uphold any or all state bans on same-sex marriage. If the latter occurs, states can still vote in same-sex marriage democratically one state at a time. If the first occurs, same-sex couples may marry in any state immediately.

NOM, CoM, and the Sutherland Institute are all traditional marriage supporters that have gone out of their way to prevent any steps towards marriage equality. Religiously based, they believe that their rights to discriminate against a minority alternative lifestyle in personal and business and government situations is violated by legalizing the government sanctioned event of marriage for same-sex couples. They also believe it is wrong for schools to teach that being gay is an OK option. According to these groups, children are best reared with their biological mothers and fathers who are legally married. Any alternative will promote acceptance of deviant and sinful behavior, ultimately destroying the very fabric of society. To take it a step further, these groups are against any policies that protect LGBT from discrimination in housing, work, and school. It is a person's right to exercise their religion in any situation by refusing to associate with an LGBT person.

Read more here:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Affirmation Conference


by Brig Bagley

15 September 2014

This past weekend was the Affirmation conference at the University of Utah guest house in Salt Lake. Several influential speakers participated, including a man highly involved in the inclusion of blacks in the LDS Church. The conference focused on acceptance of LGBT in the Mormon community, and even provided some training for local church leaders in respect to working with LGBT people in their wards.

Although active gay people cannot be baptized members of the church, some leaders are encouraging their gay members to participate as much as possible, while asking ward members to include them just as much.

Many people that grow up LDS have a hard time leaving their traditions while embracing their feelings for the same gender. Affirmation hopes to provide the bridge that will allow gay Mormons to partially fit both aspects of their life together--even if just a little.

Affirmation is the only gay Mormon support group that officially celebrates intimacy in same-sex relationships. Mormons Building Bridges doesn't make any statement about what is acceptable, but promotes civil open discussions in the LDS church concerning LGBT people. In contrast, the former Evergreen (now absorbed into NorthStar) sides with LDS teachings and policies. Their teachings prohibit same-sex intimacy and encourage celibacy, reparative therapy, and mixed-orientation marriages.

Read more here:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Religious Scare Tactics Against Gay Marriage

Big Brother by Frederic Guimont

by Brig Bagley

8 September, 2014

Last week, the LDS Church joined several other religious-based groups in an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court urging the justices to take on the case. They made several claims that have been heard before, but the focus is on the burden that current cases place on states and churches. They claim that the state is stripped of its right to define marriage as it pleases, since marriage is not explicitly defined within the US Constitution, and therefore is delegated to be ruled by the states. 

A Catholic editorial recently outlined 5 reasons gay marriage affects people that aren't married or gay. 

1) Freedom to Worship - The article gives examples of two countries that have experienced government intervention in churches that have refused to perform SSM. It says that these cases will lead to the loss of government benefits and fines to bring them to bankruptcy. 

I say great. If you want to receive money from the government, you need to play by the government's rules. That includes equal treatment of its members, despite sexual preference. You should muster your own funds with member contributions to finance the discrimination you wish to uphold. Plain and simple. 

2) Freedom of Conscience - Benefits provided by companies owned by religious folks are required to include contraceptives that they don't condone. Churches will also be monitored to be sure that political statements or endorsements are not given in sermons. 

The US Supreme Court recently granted the ability to omit certain contraceptives to private companies in the Hobby Lobby case (unfortunately), so I'm not sure what this author is worried about in that area. But again, if you receive monies or make agreements with the government, you need to play by their rules. Also, it is illegal for a church (benefited by the government) to ask its members to vote specific ways. So yes, let's keep them from breaking the law. It is a little grey when it comes to the line of endorsing a particular vote vs. asking members to vote that way, but it should still be monitored. Remember Prop 8? The LDS Church had to pay fines for violating fair voting laws.

3) Free Speech - A billboard was criticized and campaign office mobbed by SSM supporters. Conservatives are apparently losing their rights when they can't make statements without opposition. 

What about statements like "homosexuality is a sin next to murder," or "gays choose their lifestyle and shouldn't be given benefits for their poor choice," or "gays aren't natural, and could never be as good as parents as a biological man and woman" ? Should gays just roll over and take those comments, too? And what about gay prides across the country? Religious people picket and complain about the celebrations each time. Can't the gays get a break for their free speech? The gays are the ones that used to get shot (by religious people) without consequence just a few decades ago. I think the gays have room to protest conservative statements.

4) Freedom to Assemble - A parade was "bullied" by LGBT people that wanted to participate in the event. New York's parade was "bullied" to the point of being forced to let in the gays. 

Bullying? "Fag" is still used in schools as a degrading term to people that are un-cool. Just as offensive as the slur, "nigger" for blacks, "fag" name-calling is the least of a gay-kids' worries. Bullying of LGBT children is a rising issue, even with adults (a kid's own parents even for crying out loud) rejecting and devaluing a child because of their sexual preferences. I don't think there is any room for conservatives to complain about being bullied in simply letting gay people celebrate their heritage with them. I call BS.

5) Property Rights - A baker in Colorado and a photographer in New Mexico suffered legal consequences for denying services to gay couples requesting cakes/photos for their weddings. Apparently, a private business can have a religion and believe certain ways just like a human can. 

I don't care what a person's beliefs are. Let them have them. But those beliefs cannot be imposed in the policies of a company if they discriminate people or a lifestyle that does not affect the business. A business cannot practice a religion. It has no more religious rights than any other inanimate object. These businesses apparently didn't suffer from the cases, anyway. Other conservatives flocked to them to support their discrimination--booming business. Chick-fil-A experienced the same thing. I still won't patronize their establishment, though, anymore than they condone my lifestyle. Eventually, litigation will force these companies to be blind to sexuality and genders within marriages. You can still practice your religion at home and in your church building. Not your business.

Read the articles here:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Large Companies Petition US Supreme Court to Uniformly Legalize SSM

by Brig Bagley

5 September 2014

Thirty large companies have signed an amicus brief stating that the inconsistent state laws regardin SSM harm their business because of the harm it causes their employees. The companies believe that the equal treatment of married couples, regardless of gender, improves the health, morale, productivity, and success of both employees and the businesses.

Companies such as Amazon, eBay, Intel, NIKE, Target, and Staples are included in this group, making up for well over 100s of thousands of American employees, which includes thousands of LGBT people.

Read more here:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

7th Circuit Court Unanimously Strikes Down SSM Bans: Indiana, Wisconsin

by Brig Bagley

4 September 2014

As of today, the 10th, 4th, and now 7th Circuit Courts of Appeals have upheld rulings by lower courts that have struck down bans on same-sex marriage. Although it stayed its decision, the 7th Circuit Court is unique because it unanimously (all 3 judges) ruled in favor of SSM. The 10th and 4th Court decisions both had 1 dissenting opinion.

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Louisiana: First Case to Uphold Same-Sex Marriage Ban

by Brig Bagley

3 September 2014

The very first case in over 20 Federal cases to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage concluded today. Federal Judge Martin Feldman ruled that the state has a "legitimate interest" in defining marriage through the democratic process, adding that same-sex marriage has only recently become a topic of discussion and is not by any means fundamental. 

Feldman ruled that SSM proponents failed to show how the ban violates the 14th Amendment, due process, and equal protection. He agrees that the state has a right to define marriage. 

The plaintiffs plan to appeal to the 5th District Court with Feldman's decision. 

With this conflicting ruling, the chances of the US Supreme Court taking one of the related cases has just sky-rocketed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Witty Response to BYU's Removal of Same-Sex Marriage Greeting Cards

by Brig Bagley

28 August 2014

A satirical blog that pokes at much of BYU and Mormon ways put out a response to BYU's anti-gay-marriage message of removing the gay marriage greeting cards from its bookstore. 

Hopefully you can laugh at its references as it pokes fun at both sides from different angles.  

The blog post is here:

Both Sides of Gay Marriage want US Supreme Court to Hear Case


by Brig Bagley

28 August 2014

Virginia and Oklahoma are two other states in line with Utah for the US Supreme Court. Each state has received confirmation from their respective federal district courts that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Although the appeals to the US Supreme Court are coming from the SSM opponents, supporters believe that the highest court is the best vehicle to finally decide the issue for the entire nation. Given the record as of yet, it would not be surprising if it is in favor of SSM.

There hasn't been one federal ruling against gay marriage since the end of DOMA in 2012. There have been several split decisions, however, with one dissenting opinion opposing SSM. Although the dissents are muffled in the exclamations of joy in the decisions, conservatives and the religious clutch to and praise the few dissents that occur throughout the rulings--hoping that the US Supreme Court reflects those opinions instead.

Several amicus briefs are expected to be filed in order to convince the high court to take the case. Within a week, the plaintiff's brief is due. Utah's was extended for a month. At the end of September, high court justices will start reading the petitions for the case. It will decide whether to take the case sometime in October, a decision that only takes 4 justices to approve.

Read more here:

Friday, August 22, 2014

LDS Church Uses Internet to Proselyte, Monitor

by Brig Bagley

22 August 2014

The Mormons hardly dictate where the world and its society shifts. That is why it so often changes so many of its practices and policies--to mold to and to take advantage of what society has to offer. The explosion of the internet and social media is one example where the church first warned of, but now has embraced. Using its hired expertise of LDS lawyers, advertisers, and businessmen, church leaders have now exacted policies to incorporate electronic tools for proselyting. Half of missionaries today carry only a tablet instead of scriptures, not to mention a cellphone--both of which I would have been sent home for possessing. The unsaid other usage of the internet and social media is to monitor the activities of members' personal lives.

During the Kate Kelly and John Dehlin excommunication stories, I explored a few examples where members of the church were snitched on and disciplined for their opinions online. The church still uses the temple interview question #7:

"Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?"

This question was confusing, but easy for me when I answered it years ago. I didn't know why I would belong to a group that would teach things the church opposed. But looking back, this question is so sweeping and general, it basically incriminates you for being a mere friend of someone gay, feminist, atheist, etc. You cannot support your gay friends. You cannot affiliate with a feminist group. You cannot agree with a friend drinking, smoking, or getting tattoos. Basically, you can't leave your Mormon bubble, or they'll make sure you don't get back in.

Kevin Kloosterman tweeted his congratulations to the first same-sex couple married in Utah. He was a Bishop in the past. But when his Bishop found out about the tweet, his access to LDS temples was revoked. Just one simple tweet.

Several other members have been removed from their callings (their "jobs" in the church, such as a teacher, pianist, or leader) for their opinions on their blogs, Facebook posts, and the likes. Some members have been excommunicated, like Kate Kelly, founder of "Ordain Women". Kelly was certainly more on the radar than others, but local leaders, when informed on their own or other members about inappropriate opinions online, take action to squash it immediately. No free thinking in this church. Or if you do it, don't talk about it.

Sometimes I wonder if my family fears the discipline they would receive by just being supportive of me, an openly gay man--no longer a believer or member of the LDS church. I wonder if they will ever be able to think outside of the box--to love and accept me unconditionally--with the belief that affiliating with someone like me would jeopardize their salvation. I wouldn't be surprised. And it's hurtful. I'm far from the only person estranged from the church that feels that way.

I'm sure I've lost many Facebook friends with some of the many posts I have that are not becoming of an active LDS member.  I've been chastised by former leaders that I used to admire and respect on my posts. At family reunions, I have aunts, uncles, and cousins that consider me a lost soul with no morals now that I've taken a "path off the deep end".

I know I'm getting off topic, but I know this happens within the church for even the most minor infractions. Judging others is a forte for Mormons. It's not taught, it's learned. Ratting another member out for being imperfect is a great way to shift blame and guilt away from yourself. The internet just made it a lot easier.

Read the original article here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BYU Removes Hallmark's Same-Sex Marriage Greeting Cards

by Brig Bagley

20 August 2014

Hallmark has apparently stared providing two small greeting card sections for weddings of two grooms or two brides, likely due to the growing acceptance and legalization of same-sex marriage in the US.

BYU has a Hallmark Greeting Card Section in its student bookstore, and when the Hallmark stocks-man came to update the shelves, these standard sections were added just like at any other location. 

Up Tuesday of this week, students started posting pictures of the sections in the BYU bookstore, alerting school staff/officials of the addition. The sections were promptly taken down and the situation labelled "an accident". Although BYU will not end its ties to Hallmark, it notified the company that any such cards or similar are to not be sold to the school. 

BYU is operated by the Utah-based LDS Church, which officially opposes same-sex marriage and reprimands any members that support or promote it. It even disciplines members that associate with groups that approve of same-sex marriage. It's not a surprise that it condemned the cards and had them removed from campus. 

Carri Jenkins, a BYU spokesperson, stated, "Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex," it states, "but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings." Students who participate in these behaviors are punished and usually expelled from the school if they don't take steps to repent.

Attraction to people of the same gender is not against the honor code anymore at BYU. But considering this incident and past gay witch hunts at BYU, that policy isn't encouraging anyone to come out anytime soon.

This isn't a surprising story for BYU. In the future, it might suffer alienation for its outdated religious policies.

Utah Seems to Support Non-Discrimination Laws


by Brig Bagley

20 August 2014

Following the survey about Utah's attitudes towards gay marriage, the same polling group released a poll saying that about the same majority of Utahns support non-discrimination legislation in the workplace and in housing with respect to sexual preference.

Some see this as a line dividing what is tolerance versus what is condoning immoral behavior, such as legalizing same-sex marriage.

This result reflects the decrees of the Mormon church, who officially supported non-discrimination in Salt Lake City, but also firmly opposes legislation that makes SSM legal.

This is a positive thought for those in the LGBT community, but there is still a long fight ahead to secure the protections and equality they seek.

Read more here:

Reflections on TV Show: Queer as Folk

by Brig Bagley

20 August 2014

Today I will finish the entire series of "Queer as Folk", a Showtime series that aired from 2000-2005. It features the lives of gay couples, individuals, and their families in Philadelphia. The show covers almost every aspect of homosexuality and its surrounding issues: A P-flag mom, safe-sex, HIV, gay marriage, anti-gay religions, gay clubs, same-sex parents, artificial insemination, drag queens, open relationships, coming out... the list goes on. Several scenes stirred my emotions, from sadness, to pain, to anger. Many, if not most of these issues have come up in my personal life, and I expect the same of most people who are or are or have relationships with LGBT people. 

One scene in particular (spoiler alert!) takes place at a candlelight vigil in memory of people who were killed or hurt in a terrorist event during a fundraiser against a bill that would remove any and all rights to gay couples in Pennsylvania to adopt children, have joint accounts, or even share health benefits. In the midst of the vigil are protesters yelling that the injured should have died, as well as all the others at the terrorist event for defying nature and god by practicing and promoting homosexuality. 

Tempers rose to violence, as you would expect, at the disrespect of the lives of those involved with the hate-crime. 

This isn't that far from reality in some places, especially places like Russia, Uganda, and Provo, UT. 

If you haven't seen Queer as Folk, and you don't mind a more adult-themed drama (this certainly isn't a show for young kids), I would recommend you watch it (available on NetFlix). You will see yourself in at least one of the characters, and will have names of people in your life that fit several other characters. There are also characters you will have wish you had in your life, such as the supportive mother of a gay son, Debbie, and the ever-so-fabulous and honest Emmett.

I'm not so sure what took me so long to watch it, but I can imagine it might have been my Mormon upbringing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poll Claims Utah "Clearly" Opposes Gay Marriage

by Brig Bagley

19 August 2014

A poll provided by Zions Bank (owned by the LDS church) put out a survey claiming that the majority of Utah opposes gay marriage.

Although 400 is a big enough number to estimate (statistically) the population, it is very unclear that the sample was a random selection of Utahns.

Another way to look at the accuracy of this survey is LDS activity levels in Utah and to cross-reference with the support of SSM per level. (

Using 2012 stats for LDS Utah, (, 1.9 million members in 4,815 congregations yields 402 members per unit. Any church leader could tell you that 250 in church is a HUGE ward. Even being optimistic, this is only 62% activity.

About 60% of Utah is Mormon ( That includes less/non active Mormon. 62%*60%=37% of Utah is active LDS. So 32% of Utah represents the "majority vote" in this survey. Every other category overly supports SSM (except protestants). If you add all of the other numbers in this fashion (23% non/less active, 10% Catholic, 7% Protestant, 16% non-religious, and 7% other), the most you can get is 49% oppose, and 40% favor SSM, 11% undecided. This suggests that this poll DOESN'T represent Utah—the numbers are closer than you think. With a less religious population today, numbers are probably more in favor of SSM.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Nepal Exclaims its Gay Pride

by Brig Bagley

11 August 2014

Unbeknownst to many, Nepal has made significant progress in securing approval and rights for LGBT citizens. Today, supporters of the gay community marched on the capital. Traditionally celebrated as a Hindu day of the dead, this holiday has become the excuse for gay pride in the country. 

In 2007 the law decriminalized homosexuality, the most important advancement for gays. Other protections have been put into place as well, but the community is pushing for full legalization of same-sex marriage. The median age in the country is 21, with well over one third of its citizens under the age of 14. The younger generations have been vital in pushing for progress while respecting the history and culture of the nation.

Many, of course, still oppose the break from the long-held traditional marriage definition, but LGBT supporters are optimistic that the support of their legislators and Prime Minister will follow through within the year to provide the protections and equality they desire.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Opinion: Ty Mansfield Slaps Again

by Brig Bagley

8 August 2014

When you look at the picture above, what do you see? I see a lone man looking into the horizon, apparently in deep thought. He is probably thinking about something in his life that disturbs him. A problem he is trying to understand and struggles with. 

This is the image that LDS counselors and leaders like to associate with gays. They believe there is an internal problem that needs to be managed, and that they have a difficult condition for which they need help and cleansing. 

This is the image that North Star, an LDS-based gay support group, and Ty Mansfield, it's president, wish to apply to the issue of homosexuality in the LDS church. Ty and the group believe that a gay person can live with their feelings while still living fully the standards and principles of the LDS church. However, Ty believes that "gay" and "homosexual" are negative and oversimplified terms that bring in stereotypical connotations. According to Ty, "same-gender attraction" is a more inclusive term that encompasses the complexity and sensitivity of the issue. 

The LDS church is the primary creator of the terms "same-sex attraction" (SSA)or "same-gender attraction" (SGA). It was a way to soften the blow of "full-on gayness" that comes with being gay, namely the feminine composure of gay men and the uncontrollable urges for sex, drugs, deceit, and crime. It gave it a feeling of a condition that could be overcome "with growth, maturity and self-awareness and even addressing therapeutically factors", as Ty states in his address. Ty Manfield's story is that after overcoming the worst of his "attractions", he has come to love and appreciate his wife and children and their purpose as a family designed by God to fulfill His eternal plan.

Ty's story is probably one exception out of a million, if not a complete lie. I, myself, have a gay uncle (that I never see because he was shunned from the family) that could no longer live with his wife (my aunt) and their kids because of the personal hell it gave him. He was never truly happy, even though he did exactly what "God" prescribed to be the way to happiness. I felt the same way, but luckily, I escaped the sinking ship before I went down with it.

The terms SSA/SGA are offensive to those who love and accept who they are: gay, lesbian, etc. I admit I used those terms in the process of coming out, but now I look back at how demoralizing they are. They make one believe they can change their nature, and that there is something wrong with them. They are diseased and disgusting and need to cleanse their soul, shed their attractions, and sacrifice everything to be like everyone else. Outside of religion, people tend to claim as "bisexual" before coming out as truly gay. But the term bisexual at least doesn't have the connotation that something is wrong with the person.

I was once a follower of North Star. When the theme repeatedly exclaimed that "just being obedient" was worth the struggle, and the "Holy Ghost" was with them to help them not look lustfully at other men, I finally decided I was among confused individuals and left exclaiming my pride for who I was.

I am not broken. I am not struggling. I am a happy gay man with goals, dreams, and a hope for love down the road. I am successful, have many wonderful friends and a family who loves me (even if they don't yet accept my differences). If I could take a magic pill to become straight, I would not take it. I am gay. And I am proud of it.

Deseret News posted the article on Ty here: