Friday, February 28, 2014

US Anti-Gay Extremists May be of Cause to Uganda's and Russia's Anti-Gay Policies

by Brig Bagley

28 February 2014

Scott Lively, an American author, attorney, and activist, and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer are noted for their opposition to LGBT people and their rights.

Lively is currently being tried for crimes against humanity for inspiring hatred against gay and lesbian people. Part of that trial is his visit to Uganda to promote the recent passage of anti-gay laws that can imprison gay Uganda people for life. Lively also claims to be a major contributor to the anti-gay laws now in place in Russia. He even believes that gays are to blame for the Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide. Fischer has publicly approved Lively's actions, calling "homosexuality contrary to public policy."

Both of these anti-gay activists believe homosexuality can be "unlearned", which the American Medical Association has declared harmful, being that homosexuality is not a health issue or problem.

It is interesting that because of the progress in countries like the US, Britain, France, Canada, Denmark, etc., people like Lively and Fischer resort to other developing countries to spread their hate and find followers to their cause. The oppression they promote only mirrors the tactics used in history like the infamous Nazi Germany.

When these people will stop or countries will reject such inhumane beliefs will never be soon enough. Those who support such oppression have blood on their hands from the violence that has and will occur in places like Russia, and now Uganda.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blog Post "Dear Mormonism"

by Brig Bagley

27 February 2014

The irony of this post is that it is thanking Mormonism for teaching this woman to do exactly the opposite of most of the teachings in the church itself. The suppressing of women in the church led her to become a feminist valuing her mind and not "just her uterus". 

Many ex-Mormons have a lot to thank the religion for--whether actual positive lessons, or close-minded ones that lead them to open their minds. Compassion, love, forgiveness, and service are often great qualities of Mormon and ex-Mormon people. But open-mindedness, compassion to LGBT people, energy for the rights and powers of women, and social diversity are things learned in spite of the religion.

As to not spoil nor derail the eloquence of the post, take a read yourself: 

A Unique Discussion between LGBT Supporters and Utah Legislators

by Brig Bagley

27 February 2014

Never done quite like this before, lawmakers and LGBT supporters sat in the same room to tell their stories, share their feelings, and appeal to their representatives. The hope of this meeting was to bring perspective and understanding to both sides of the issue, as well as to encourage senators to stand with and support equality.

Stories of a young LDS teen fearing discrimination in college, a transgender engineer that wishes to be defined by her skills and accomplishments and not here identity, and a gay man that was fired when discovered gay--each bringing to light the truth of what is really happening in Utah that needs to stop.

The original article has a number of compelling comments from both sides. Many argue that research disproving the commitment of gay people in recent years has been skewed or hushed, and that the boycotting of religions and companies that supported traditional marriage was just as hateful. But the truth of the matter is that feelings, beliefs, tradition, and morality do not matter in this issue. Government is not in existence to force morality. Morality is to be chosen, and all citizens protected in such a way that all can choose for themselves how to live what each believes is "moral". One great comment was given by username Ryan M.:

"Laws do not encourage nor discourage morality. If all you operate off of as to what is right and wrong is the law, then you live a sad life indeed. Laws are to offer basic protections. Every single civil right and privileged we enjoy comes with both negative and positive consequences. Laws are not setup to protect someone from abstract, indirect supposed societal harm. They are set up to stop someone from infringing upon your right to life, liberty and property. Supporting traditional marriage is not enacted through legislation. It comes through your actions and if you want to express your opinion and maybe start a group that supports traditional marriage, that is great, stand for what you believe, but allow others to do the same. When you try and legislate your morality you are neither standing for your morality or making a positive change. You just restrict someone else of the freedom to choose that for themselves. Morality has to come through choice, not force. Because to operate off of morals and values is of a higher order than to operate simply off of consequences. Gay people don't need to be punished for choosing to live what you believe is an immoral lifestyle. That is what these laws are really about. Making sure that they know, and society knows that this is immoral. That is not for you to decide for anyone other than yourself."

This event was truly helpful in having both parties come together and to listen to the real stories of real Utahns.

Read more here:

AZ Governor Vetoes Discriminatory Law

by Brig Bagley

27 February 2014

After the urging of protesters, businesses, senators, and friends, Gov. Brewer of Arizona decided to veto the law that would permit discrimination of any kind, as long as it was on the basis of personally held religious beliefs. 

It was clear that this bill was mean for gays and lesbians as it was in response to the lawsuits that put out of business people that refused to provide gay couples with services such as wedding cakes and photography. 

Businesses are not religions and therefore cannot refuse to serve people that live against the beliefs of the business owner or employee. If this measure was signed into law, patronage would diminish in the state, slowing the economy forcing companies to move out or not move in at all. Not only was the measure a hateful attempt to legalize discrimination, but it was also poorly thought out as to the consequences it would have on the state as a whole.

Whatever the reasons were for Jan Brewer to veto the bill, LGBT groups are happy that she did.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Millennial" Generation Leaving Religion as a Result of Anti-Gay Beliefs

by Brig Bagley

26 February 2014

About one third of adults, aging 21-34, have disenfranchised themselves from religion as a result of the anti-gay beliefs and policies within the religion.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are people born in approximately the early 1980s to the early 2000s. It is apparent in most of these people a greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative lifestyles, despite constant family or religious teachings. The world has progressed and changed significantly during the maturing years of these people, possibly desensitizing them to change, and even welcoming it.

The original article explains how even despite the softening of the teachings against homosexuality, the negativity has made it difficult for religious groups to recruit or even retain younger people.

Several surveys have shown increasing support for LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. The graph above visualizes how most of the people in several religions have changed their opinion that gay marriage is against their beliefs. The only exception is unaffiliated religions.

With many religions pushing the front to keep traditional marriage, the heat will likely set off even more people to leave their churches. It is common today for religious people to accept homosexuality on an individual basis. When these individuals are challenged by their church leadership, they will probably be pushed away.

Read more here:

Texas Joins the Ranks!

by Brig Bagley

26 February 2014

Another federal judge has ruled a state law that bans same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. The decision is stayed, pending appeal by the Attorney General, an expected candidate for state Governor. 

The state voted the ban into law in 2005 with a nearly 3 to 1 ration for the ban. 

Texas now joins the battle for equality with about 23 other states experiencing similar cases.

Same-sex Proponents file Brief to Federal Court

by Brig Bagley

26 February 2014

Peggy Tomsic weighs in on the brief filed in response to the appeal of Utah's Amendment 3 court ruling, struck down by Judge Shelby.

"There is no reasonably conceivable way in which excluding same-sex couples from marriage advances any permissible aim of government," according to the brief. "Indeed, the principal justification proffered by the state — a purported interest in preferring some parents over others — is not even a legitimate governmental interest."

"In effect, the state is advocating that same-sex couples’ constitutional freedoms should be subject to a “heckler’s veto” — a veto that is granted only to those members of society having religious beliefs opposed to marriage for same-sex couples," Tomsic wrote. "Constitutional rights would be hollow indeed if courts were precluded from upholding them when some part of the population might be upset."

These are just a few of the statements that best describe invalid nature of the state's arguments in favor of traditional marriage. Tomsic's voice loudly rings with reason.

A constitutional right has no exceptions. No religion can interfere with a governmental right. Just as the government has no place to interfere with religious beliefs (as long as they do not harm or infringe on the rights of other citizens). Legalizing same-sex marriage does no harm to religion. It simply upholds the guaranteed rights for equality under the law.

Every time an advancement is made for the rights of US citizens, there is always a set of citizens that oppose it and are upset. Civil Rights and Women's Rights, for example. But if every time these issues came up, we table them due to others being "uncomfortable" with them, the United States would not be the free State it claims to be.

Every argument Utah has against same-sex marriage is tradition and religious based. Just because gays cannot procreate does not mean they don't have the capacity to raise children. There are plenty of heterosexuals that procreate irresponsibly that should not raise children. With all of the foster children and kids in adoption agencies, gay couples are a blessing to society.

Read more here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona may be First to Sign in Legal Discrimination for Religious Citizens

by Brig Bagley

25 February 2014

For a few days now, the shocking news that Arizona legislature has passed a law allowing for business owners to deny service to gays and lesbians on grounds or religious belief has kept many on their toes. The bill wouldn't become law until Governor Jan Brewer signs the bill. She returns to AZ today from a trip to Washington. It is still unclear whether she will sign the bill, or veto it.

At least 3 of the GOP senators in the state have changed their mind on the bill, saying it wasn't what they thought it was when it was first presented. One admitted it was a mistake and he will do everything he can to repair it.  

Arizona is the only state to successfully pass such a bill, even though many other states have tried and failed for various reasons. A well known conservative group, Center for Arizona Policy, has pushed for the bill and stands as the primary supporter. Several businesses, Apple Inc. and American Airlines Group included, strongly oppose the bill and urge Brewer to veto the bill. The companies claim that the bill will drive many businesses away, scare others from coming to AZ, and hurt the tourist aspect of the state. 

As expected, LGBT groups have adamantly opposed and protested the bill in peaceful gatherings since its passing. It is being called "legalized discrimination", allowing religious people to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws. Supporters of the bill frequently use the cases against the photographer and cake-baker that were sued for denying business to gay couples, saying they want to protect such businesses from being shut down. But the states that held these cases have laws protecting LGBT as a sub-class, where AZ does not, making the bill at the very least redundant, and mostly discriminate. 

Whether AZ becomes the first to "protect the discrimination from religious people" will become clear possibly later today.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Holladay, UT Passes Anti-Discrimination Bill


by Brig Bagley

Although this is only a small community law, it is definitely a positive step. The comments on the KSL article go both ways with the new ruling. Many are please to hear the progress, where others feel their freedom to choose has been violated. 

How is it American to choose to discriminate someone based on religious belief? Doing business with, employing, or housing a person that lives a lifestyle that one doesn't approve of does not give anyone a right to deny the business. One comment by username "conehead" concerning Provo's "choice" to discriminate:

I see nothing wrong with the CHOICE that Provo gives it's citizens. Whyon earth would you want to FORCE others around you to accept what they view as an abominable perversion? All this is, is bullying, using the "law" in a perverse way to forward someones agenda, and for the lame politicians to try and garner more votes. Yes, the LGBTXYZ community are people too, but they always have a choice in whether or not to live that lifestyle. Why shouldn't the "rest of us" have a choice not to have to associate ourselves with it? Our politicians have absolutely NO wisdom whatsoever, but, what's changed?

My response:

I'm shocked that conservatives are promoting choice as a freedom. Choices are free to make, yes, as long as it doesn't infringe on the freedoms of another citizen. Choosing your employees based on sexual preference is restricting the freedom of that person to choose where they live or work. Even if this person were the most qualified candidate for the housing or job, you can deny it because you want to "choose to practice your religion" or whatever. This is where we need laws to protect victims of religious oppression. 
So what's wrong with allowing women to choose an abortion, or same sex couples to choose to marry? You can't drum freedom of choice, yet exclude others from the choices they have rights to as well. Please don't use your religion as an excuse either. You cannot impose religious reasoning on others. Religious freedom in this country also gives the freedom to not be religious.

There is so much more to say about how wrong this comment is, let alone so many others on KSL.

Even though there have been no cases as a result of existing anti discrimination laws in Utah cities, the laws are symbolic of the continuing progress of the state. Also, it could also be that the laws are actually working to prevent discrimination.

And just as homosexuality may be considered an abominable perversion, religion can be considered judgemental, close-minded bigotry. And how is it not religious agenda to push their beliefs into law, say, like the awful prop 8 in California, or amendment 3 in Utah? Aren't conservative politicians also trying to swing votes by being ultra bigoted?

People are free to associate with who they wish, but you can't choose who to do business with based on premises that have nothing to do with the business.

And again, saying that LGBT have a choice to live their lifestyle is the tell-tale bell that someone does not understand the situation at all. No person has a choice about who they are attracted to, or what gender they identify as. Just as you are born with certain genitalia, you are born with certain feelings and attractions. And even if you recognize that, stating that one can still "choose" to be heterosexual despite their feelings is illogical. A heterosexual doesn't choose to be homosexual, why should the other be expected? And believing that a lifestyle is wrong on religious grounds is fine, but imposing that expectation on others that don't share your belief is un-American, let alone plain wrong.

One comment impressed me enough to share (username Aristotle):

Heterosexual Mormon conservatives have been known to try to force their will on others through legislation before. Utah liquor laws anybody? Should Mormon waiters and waitresses be allowed to ignore the alcohol orders of their waited tables and not bring them the wine or cocktail they requested? These good LDS waiters and waitresses see drinking alcohol as being disobedient to God's commandments, and yet they don't mind bringing these alcoholic drinks because they are tolerant of others and don't enforce their personal beliefs on others. Mormon business owners all over the state make decision to serve alcohol and even pornography in their places of business. All of the various Marriott Hotels for example, along with countless restaurants with liquor licenses owned by LDS business owners. Let's face it, this is only an issue for some because of religious animus that is focally directed against homosexual individuals.

Businesses are "forced" by current law to not deny services based on race, religion, national origin, or marital status, with few exceptions. With some of the comments I see in this forum, clearly sexual orientation needs to be added to that list ASAP.
Having this all said, it is great to hear that when the state or nation cannot make progress fast enough, local governments make the move for progress. It is good to know there are at least a few people that wish to stand on the right side of history.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Utah Pride 2014: Love = Love

Utah Pride Festival announces theme, opens booth and parade registrations

by Brig Bagley

If you haven't participated in SLC Pride before, consider coming along this year. With performances, food, local businesses, art, cocktails, parade, and more, you won't be disappointed. You may not find a boyfriend, but definitely come to meet new people and broaden your circles. 

If you wish to participate in some way, such as displaying art, advertising your business, volunteering, or joining in the parade, find the proper email for registration at the link below. 

There are several other pride locations in Utah, as well as the rest of the United States.  Check out to find the time and location of the pride event nearest you. Don't feel like you can only stick to your pride event... it's often fun to travel to participate in pride in other cities!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

GOP is Pushing for "Religious Freedom" Litigation in Several States

by Brig Bagley

20 February 2014

Several states have state senators pushing for acts and bills that would give people a legal excuse to refuse services to any individual based on religious belief. Some experts are calling these movements "Jim-Crow Style", saying that they give special groups permission to not have to play by the same rules as everybody else. 

The laws in question are varied a little, but all are related to fact that there are people that live certain lifestyles that others do not want to have to correspond with. People want to be able to discriminate (although they don't want to call it that) against others to, in my opinion, protest their life choices. Apparently, protecting sub-classes, like LGBT people, from discrimination is infringing on the rights of religious people to do so. 

There are already about 29 states that already have in place some sort of "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" that grants religions a few special privileges, but most are mainly to protect the religion itself from attack, instead of allowing the religion to attack or discriminate preemptively.

"This seems to be a concerted Hail Mary campaign to carve out special rights for religious conservatives so that they don't have to play by the same rules as everyone else does," says Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out. "In this new up-is-down world, anti-gay religious folks are 'practicing their faith' when they're baking cakes or renting out hotel rooms to travelers. On the ground, [these bills] hurt real, live LGBT people."

Religion is practiced in chapels, cathedrals, temples, and synagogues. Not at work at the office, coffee shop, repair shop, or clothing store. It is not against anyone's religion to provide products, service, or employment to individuals that don't practice their same religion. It is not a right for anyone to refuse these products, services, or jobs to someone because they are gay, have premarital sex, drink wine, or eat non-kosher meats. Simply don't practice those "sins" yourself. Maybe you are uncomfortable when a gay couple comes in asking for one of your fine cakes for their wedding. But how would the couple feel if you proudly exclaimed that your religion doesn't approve of them and therefore you refuse to sell them a cake? 

It's clearly discriminatory to refuse services in situations like this, especially based on religion. It's one thing if they don't have the money, violate the "no shirt, no shoes, no service", or have previously harassed the business in some way. But these issues have nothing to do with religion.

Most of the proposed laws have already been killed or have been shelved for the time being, but it's pretty obvious that this is conservative's attempt at fighting back at the imminent legalization of same-sex marriages. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coming out in an LDS Family: Child and Adult

by Brig Bagley

19 February 2014

This story is a little old, but it inspired me as I revisited it. An LDS couple in California with 5 children went out in 2008 to knock on doors to promote the infamous Prop 8 that banned same-sex couples from marrying in the state. At that very same time, their oldest son, about 11 at the time, was fearing rejection from his family and contemplating suicide because of his homosexual feelings that he had not yet told anyone.

Also at the same time, I was experiencing very similar feelings--except I was 10 year older than Jordan, the boy of the parents above. I did, however, experience similar feelings at Jordan's age without the impetus of Prop 8. There was another proposition that restricted marriage to a man and a woman, Proposition 22 in 2000, that when overturned, lead to Prop 8. Although I did have homosexual feelings at that time (I was 13) I didn't let it bother me. I assumed over time, God would fix me. Jordan's feelings were much more realistic than mine, which led to his early depression and changed the entire course of his family.

After over a dozen years of believing God would fix me if I was righteous, I started doubting it would ever happen. All the callings, prayers, scriptures, seminary, institute, mission years, temple worship, fasting, and repenting made no difference. I finally started exploring on my own terms. I met someone online, then in person. He became my first boyfriend, and the rest is history.

To break it down a little more, during the Prop 8, I finally started to question my views. Although I did support it blindly to be a good LDS member, I began to understand the other side of the issue. There are people out there that believe differently than me that want to love someone. It took a couple years for it all to sink in. Even when I decided to date other guys and stop going to church, I still held on to the church as a reference.

Now, 6 years since Prop 8, I have finally come to similar views as the parent's of Jordan, hoping to change the church's stance that homosexuality is a sin. With so many other children out there confused with what's wrong with them, I believe it is the responsibility of us who understand to go out and scream for that change. The LDS church is also just one of many organizations that scorn homosexuality. But the LDS church stands at the front of many protests against any litigation that accepts such behavior.

The LDS church is not likely to change their teachings anytime soon, but monumental changes in doctrine have occurred in the past, and will occur again. Perhaps this issue will be next. If the church continues its stance, it will at the very least suffer from another wave of members leaving the "fold".

The parents of Jordan, like the rest of us that support our gay friends and family, have a great deal of fighting left before the issue is resolved. If you haven't read the story of Jordan Montgomery and his family, or seen the clip for the documentary (above), please do so.

Read the article here:

National Organization for Marriage Desperately moves from Bad to Worse

By Brig Bagley

19 February 2014

As same-sex marriage becomes more and more acceptable, NOM has become more and more desperate to destroy it. Instead of just promoting traditional marriage, it now blatantly attacks not just same-sex marriage, but LGBT people in general. It reiterates that homosexuality is wrong, a sin, and harmful to the human soul. 

According to the original article, NOM is operating in debt, where the majority of its funding is coming from a mere 3 individuals. The drop in funding is likely due to its shift in no longer focusing on marriage, as it had before. 

Some of the more rash statements by NOM include defending Duck Dynasty when its cast member openly criticized gays, spreading lies about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, mocking trans-gender Americans, promoting the restriction of adoptions by same-sex couples, and putting down NBA player Jason Collins for coming out as gay.

"It appears that NOM is intent on harming as many LGBT people as possible as it slides into total irrelevancy."

Two Republican Senators seek to Replace DOMA Bill

Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz file DOMA replacement bill

By Brig Bagley

19 February 2014

Utah Senator Mike Lee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz seek to replace the Defense of Marriage Act, which was struck down as unconstitutional in 2012 by the US Supreme Court.

Proponents of traditional marriage, these two criticize the Obama Administration for forcing same-sex marriage across the 50 states. This act will prohibit congress or any judicial ruling from altering any laws pertaining to marriage definition in a state voted in by its citizens. This would stifle any attempt to determine the unconstitutional nature of voted in laws, even if they are out-of-date to society. 

It is unlikely that this bill will pass because of its similarity to the struck-down DOMA. This bill, according to the original article, is likely a "message bill" to help in reelections.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Popular Dating App 'Grindr' grows in Russia from Olympics, Could be used as a Trap

By Brig Bagley

The Olympics and current anti-gay issues in Russia have tripled the number of users on popular gay dating app, Grindr. This number still pales to the number of users in the UK and USA, but the growth is interesting to note.

One concern is that there are possibly anti-gay groups posing as individuals to lure unsuspecting users to meet. Once found by the group, the individual is at risk of being attacked or even killed. The owners of the app haven't made any statements about ways to protect users from such attacks.

This also begs the question of how often managers, employers, parents, school officials, or even anti-gay individuals use the app to expose, mis-treat, or discriminate. Many gays already "out and proud" in places where it is considered safe and acceptable to be out find it silly and even annoying when other users refuse to post identifying pictures on the app in fear of just these things. But is their fear merited?

It wouldn't be surprising if Honor Code administrators make accounts just for that... finding and identifying BYU students using the app to catch them breaking the honor code. BYU witch hunts have occurred before, and not even that long ago. 

Parents could search gay social sites looking for their kid in order to confront him/her. Employers (who live in areas where it is still allowed to fire employees for being gay, like in Provo, UT) can do the same to have evidence and grounds to sack employees.

Many gay people find these situations hard to believe, but it only takes one real incident that makes it a serious safety issue. If you do have reason to fear such exposure, tread lightly. If not, be respectful of those who claim they do.

Facebook adds new Gender Options

Facebook offers expanded options for gender

By Brig Bagley

18 February 2014

The options for types of gender have expanded on Facebook. In the early days, even relationship status was limited to something as small as "Single" and "Not Single", but now options like "It's Complicated" are often seen. In order to accommodate the growing issues revolving around gender identity, Facebook now allows trans gender options. 

Why is this so important? A number of trans gender related people would like the proper pro-nouns used when referenced by Facebook's Ads or suggestions, such as "Wish him/her a Happy Birthday". Users aren't necessarily offended by this, but are hoping to educate others on how they would preferred to be referred as. 

This is one of the first large corporations to include so many options for gender identity. LGBT organizations are certainly happy to see this progress at this particular time in history. The hope is that other organizations will adopt the option for people to identify more specifically how they please. It will likely be a long time before legal documents make the move to no longer force trans gender people to select a gender that does not describe them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy V-Day, with a Cute boy and Puppies!

U.S. Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy shows his love

By Brig Bagley

14 February 2014

Not exactly on topic, but who can say no to a cute boy and puppies?!? Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy found 4 stray dogs in Sochi he plans to vaccinate, take home, and adopt. What a great Valentine's for him and the puppies! 

And happy Valentine's to all of you. Hopefully you'll have either a boy or a puppy to love on tonight... maybe both!

Virginia is Next for Equality!

By Brig Bagley

14 February 2014

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional yesterday, following so many others. The federal judge that made the ruling stayed the decision pending appeal, of course, but this is just another drop to the bucket that will help the US Supreme Court's decision once it reaches them.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ex-Mormons held to Double Standard against Active Mormons

By Brig Bagley

A recent article outlines the double standard Ex-Mormons are held to when it comes to sharing their beliefs. The article first praises another article, "When the Saints go Marching Out," which is an explanation of the massive exodus from the LDS church for various reasons. Then a response article, "When the Saints go Marching Out-of-Control," which criticizes the first article and mentions the phrase that Ex-Mormons "Leave the Church, but cannot leave it alone."

Why is it that Mormons shut down when someone tries to share beliefs, or truths that conflict with the Mormon Doctrine? Mormons--from as early as Primary--are taught to share their beliefs with others around them. 18-19 year old teens are even expected to serve missions for 2 years in a strange place to "declare the gospel to the world". Missionary efforts are 1 of the 3 missions of the church. Converts are expected to bring their friends and families into the church. But why is it that when one person comes and tries to explain a truth, a contradiction to the LDS faith, that the Mormon turns a cold shoulder and immediately rejects it?

This double standard is all too real, yet often missed, since Ex-Mormons often feel guilty for trying to "ruin" the beliefs of the active Mormon. But whatever an Ex-Mormon believes, there must have been a very compelling reason for them to leave the church, often a doctrinal issue. This truth rang so strong with the Ex-Mormon that he/she decided to alienate him/herself from friends and family just to follow what he/she found to be true. How is that any different from a convert joining the LDS church? Is a convert no also often leaving friends and family to follow their new-found belief? Yet it is noble for the convert to the church to proselyte, and disrespectful for an Ex-Mormon to explain their beliefs to convert the Mormon away from the LDS church.

This is just another example of how the LDS church culture places its beliefs (using the privilege of religious freedom) above and in front of any other argument as what is "best" for society as a whole. The LDS institution does uphold some great beliefs and standards, but most of these can be found in other religions, and even in non-religious people. 

News Reporter Responds Admirably to NFL Candidate Coming out as Gay

By Brig Bagley

13 February 2014

This clip surprises many as the reporter announces the coming out of a football player hoping to be drafted in to the NFL. He explains how backwards it is when people are uncomfortable with a gay man in the men's locker room, but fine with people who have done terrible things--as long as they are still manly.  

This reporter's opinion (from a conservative state nonetheless) should be a shining example of how society can break the fear of the unknown, appreciate the differences in others, and focus on what is most important.

Is there anything wrong with a man who loves another man? What is his crime?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kentucky now Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages Performed in other States

By Brig Bagley

12 February 2014

Just today, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional to deny same-sex marriages recognition in the state. Although same-sex marriages cannot be performed in the state, they are now recognized as legitimate if performed in another state.

"Ruling in a suit brought by four gay and lesbian couples, [the federal judge] said that while 'religious beliefs ... are vital to the fabric of society ... assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.' "

The judge points out that the US Supreme Court has refused to allow tradition to be a valid argument in supporting any marriage related laws, whether voted on by a majority, or signed in by congressmen. He also says there is no requirement that heterosexual couples agree to procreate in order to marry, so defending traditional marriage as a protection to procreate is invalid. 

Those unhappy with the ruling argue that Kentucky citizens' votes won't count against the "political ideologies of liberal judges". 

Even so, US constitution Amendment 14 is in place so that no majority can vote out the rights, freedoms, and opportunities of any minority.

Mormons and Gays dot com

By Brig Bagley

12 February 2014

If you didn't already know, since the pressure of legalizing gay marriage in the US has become a daily issue, the LDS Church has put together a website explaining the church's position and interactions with those who "struggle with same-sex attraction".  The site says nothing new to what active members have been taught, except the fact that gay and lesbian people should be treated with love and respect just like any other. LGBT members that adhere to church principles and do not engage in homosexual activities have the same opportunities and blessings as other members.

Except they don't. 

The pinnacle of Mormon life is marriage in a temple and eternal families with children and the promise of "eternal increase", or being able to create children in Heaven after death for eternity. The Church no longer prescribes heterosexual marriage as a "panacea" to same-sex attraction, but states that it has worked for some, and been disastrous for others. The individual must choose what would be best for them. 

But how does a gay Mormon know what is best? If he/she chooses to marry heterosexually, there runs the risk of never being happy with their spouse, usually resulting in divorce and a broken (or at least unstable) family. If he/she decides to remain single, never engaging in ANY sexual activity (because it's immoral outside a heterosexual marriage, even masturbation), the person becomes stuck in the Mormon cycle of preparing for marriage and family that will never happen (except for the hope of a family after they die). If marriage is not an option, the only other option (aside from suicide, which unfortunately, many resort to) is to remain celibate for life. 

On, there are a number of stories of members who have struggled with "SSA" and found happiness and hope in the gospel that they can be just as happy as the straight members of the church, as long as they are "steadfast and endure to the end". 

Although many are convinced that this is the righteous path they must follow, what is not fairly depicted on the site are those who doubt the institution as a whole for not having an explanation, nor a reasonable solution for those that do not fit in the typical Plan of Salvation. If active gay Mormons are truly happy living a celibate or heterosexual life, they are a rare exception to the vast majority of LGBT people that have escaped the LDS lifestyle.  

No matter how accepting the LDS church is of LGBT people, as long as they restrict the family possibilities of same-sex couples in order to be in full fellowship, they will be an unhealthy institution for them to be a part of.  

In all fairness, the site itself is a positive step for the LDS church.  It is, however, an easy way out to avoid bad press and puts on the image of acceptance. It is inevitable that same-sex marriages will be acceptable and lawful throughout the country and even the world within a few short years. As long as the LDS church clutches to its tradition, it will again experience drops in activity. Just like the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement will impose social pressure for change in the Church. It will either have to make that change as it did with blacks and the priesthood, or suffer some sort of collapse.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Striking Down of DOMA has started Unprecedented Court Rulings against Same-Sex Marriage Bans: Utah, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Nevada

By Brig Bagley

11 February 2014

Just this past month, another Federal Judge has ruled a state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Oklahoma was the subject of this ruling, following cases heard for New Jersey, New Mexico, and Utah.   The decision was stayed, however, expecting an appeal to the decision. For now, no same-sex marriage licenses will be issued in Oklahoma, but couples are expectant. It is likely that the Utah case will reach the Supreme Court sooner, since the licenses issued in Utah expedited the court process in order to resolve concerns over said licenses. 

Most recently, officials in Nevada have made it clear that there will be no more fighting against same-sex marriage, which will fare well in its legalization in court cases to come.  

Following the Defense Against Marriage strike-down by the US Supreme Court, lower federal courts have received several cases fighting same-sex marriage bans as a result of the ruling. This is what many are calling the Gay Rights Movement, which began back in 2008 with Proposition 8 in California.  Many other states have voted in or passed legalization of same-sex marriage, with many more expected to follow. Indiana is an exception, being the only state to recently ban same-sex marriage.

Religious Defense of Marriage Continues; Explained

By Brig Bagley

11 February 2014

The topic is being beat to death, so I'll try to keep my comments and summaries fresh and new.

A number of groups, especially religions, have bonded together to defend their beliefs of traditional marriage and explain their views in their briefs to the Utah same-sex marriage case. Finding it offensive that their stance is labelled as bigotry, they argue that it is not about gay rights, it's about marriage.

"Briefs also argue that only a man and a woman can bear children and traditional marriage is the best environment to rear them. Some of the briefs contend that gay and lesbian people are not a protected class, and that sexual orientation isn't solely biological and can change over time."

One Salt Lake City attorney, Frank Mylar, says the redefinition of marriage turns makes it not a marriage at all:

"For example, a court could determine that orange juice can include juice made solely with potatoes, but it would have created something else by doing so. That marriage is composed of a man and a woman is as inseparable from the word marriage as orange juice is inseparable from oranges."

Judge Shelby issued his ruling that Amendment 3 was unconstitutional because it violates equal protection and due process under the law.  He agrees that marriage laws should be state governed, but a majority rule cannot strip fundamental rights from sub-class citizens.  Shelby said that "the purpose and effect of Amendment 3 is to deny the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples, 'which is another way of saying that the law imposes inequality.' "

The plaintiffs (supporters of same-sex marriage) have until February 25 to file their response to the State's brief. Many other supporters are expected to file briefs to the 10th Circuit Court in Denver as well.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Program is provided to help Homeless LGBT Minors

By Brig Bagley

10 February 2014

Recent political affairs have increased the rate at which minors are thrown out of their homes for being gay or transgender. Safe and Sound summarizes the problem:

"It’s estimated that about 5000 unaccompanied youth experience homelessness in Utah each year, with 30% of those experiencing homelessness for more than one year. Of this population, national statistics show 40% self-identify as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender), and almost 70% of those report being rejected by their families, often with them being kicked out of their homes. The percentage that are actually LGBT could be considerably higher."

In hopes to help these homeless children, this program is looking for people to join in a safe way for kids to get extra help. The details are on the program's page. If you are interested in helping, please visit this page and see if you can help.

Visit here:

"Wounded on the Battlefield" Church video and its Parody

By Brig Bagley

10 February 2014

There are often (especially in youth and singles programs like seminary and institute) short videos by the LDS church that try to visualize a lesson from a talk given by a church authority.  In this particular clip, a young man struggles with an addiction to pornography, and his roommate works up the courage to approach him and "save him from the battlefield." The roommate has him talk to the Bishop, and magically, the boy is happy again, flirting with the girls and sharing an intimate glance with his caring roommate.  

A parody of the clip was created, but unfortunately, BYU Idaho flagged the video as a copyright infringement and it was taken down.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Divine Institution of Marriage

By Brig Bagley

7 February 2014

The LDS Church again reiterates its position with traditional marriage.  Always using the "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Church leaders emphasize the divine institution as solely a lawful union between a man and a woman.  

The article warns of what would happen, should same-sex marriages be made legal, noting mainly the destruction of families in general:

1. Children would not have the unique and necessary upbringing that comes from a mother's and father's very different attributes that shape a healthy environment and ensure proper gender identity with the child.  

2. Religious freedom would be diminished by punishing individuals and groups that refuse serving same-sex couples, such as photographers, church facilities, and adoption agencies.  Tax-exempt status would be revoked, or businesses would be forces to shut down for their religious beliefs.  

3. Schools would include curriculum that teaches same-sex marriages as equal to traditional marriages without requiring consent from parents.  This even includes teaching premarital consensual sex as morally neutral.  

The article finally reminds readers that kindness towards LGBT people is expected, even if political, lifestyle, and belief differences exist.  People should not, however, let tolerance prevent them from politically involving themselves to defend their beliefs.  

Google shows support for LGBT rights in Russia Olympic Games with logo

Google doodle

By Brig Bagley

7 February 2014

The violence against gay people in Russia continues, even as the start of the Olympic games opens today in Sochi.  Although threats against athletes have been voiced, officials have ensured the protection of the competitors, including those who are known LGBT.  

The Olympic Charter states that athletes should all be allowed to participate with no discrimination.  This statement is in conflict with a number of the anti-gay laws recently instituted in Russia.  

In addition to the troubles with LGBT, Sochi has also failed to adequately prepare its accommodations for its visitors.  With unsafe water, unfinished rooms, hallways, and lobbies, and oddly designed bathrooms, athletes and company are nervous how long they will last.

Read more at:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

State's brief for upholding Same-Sex ban in Utah is copy-paste of recycled arguments

News analysis: Utah same-sex marriage brief is a cut-and-paste from the ultra-conservative agenda

By Brig Bagley

5 February 2014

According to an article in Q-Salt Lake, a break down of the arguments in the States brief are old news and not even original.  A number of statements are word-for-word copies of arguments used in other briefs for failed anti-equality cases. In addition, many are also pulled from heavily conservative groups and authors.

Some of these arguments include the following:

1. Traditional marriage has worked for hundreds of years in the past.

2. Children are best raised in a home with a mother and father.

3. Fertility rates are dropping, and gay marriage is the cause and will continue the trend.

4. Redefining marriage as an adult-centric entity, detrimental to children.

5. Legalizing same-sex marriage degrades the value of marriage, therefore causing a decline of marriage in

6. If same-sex marriage is legal, religious and private institutions would be punished for excluding LGBT people from their services, such as churches, adoption agencies, schools like BYU, and BYU housing.

In the article, the frivolity of it can be summed up in this statement:

" 'Redefining marriage would be a recipe for social and religious strife,' the legal team wrote.

In other words, blood will spill if gays can marry and the state can say, 'I told you so.' "

Read more at:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Battling Rallys at Utah State Capitol

By Brig Bagley

28 January 2014

Separated by just minutes, supporters and protesters of same-sex marriage gathered at the Utah State Capital to proclaim their views.  This time, however, the traditional marriage supporters were not over run by same-sex marriage supporters.  With such little advanced notice, as well as its early timing in the day, only around 300 gay marriage supporters showed up at the 5 pm rally.  At 7pm, though, about 700 people, including families, filled the capitol with signs exclaiming "Protect our Children" and "One man, one woman, it's genetics".

The "Stand with Children" rally took the well-known equality sign and literally turned it on its side, marking one bar blue for male, one pink for female.  The hashtag "#standwithchildren" is patched on top to make the statement clear.

The speakers at the rally emphasized a few points:

  • Supporting traditional marriage does not mean hatred towards LGBT.
  • Children have the right to both a mother and a father.
  • The State of Utah has the right to define its own laws for marriage.
  • Utah has the religious freedom to stand for its beliefs in traditional marriage.
One presentation was that of a man raised by two gay women that wished he had a father in his upbringing, Robert Oscar Lopez. See here.

A number of protesters went to the event, myself included, and held hands and signs to remind the participants that LGBT are real people with real love and real families.  Although most of us were peaceful, some decided to make a scene in the center of the seating, throwing glitter.  One man chanted during the prayer at the end of the meeting as well.  

Overall, the gathering was quiet without much battle. Traditional marriage people smiled at the protesters and made no qualms.  

Although people have every right to stand for their beliefs, it's void when those beliefs strip human rights and freedoms from others.  Praying in the state capitol to ask God to prevent citizens from government sanctioned benefits and rights to love is unacceptable. There are children in loving same-sex families that cannot receive the same equal opportunities as children with mixed-gender parents.  Until the rights with marriage are re-instituted to the State of Utah, families are being torn instead of built.  

Utah files appeal brief for Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

by Brig Bagley

State officials are scrambling to make their case to defend traditional marriage. In their appeal brief filed just this week, they use the argument that children deserve the right to have a mother and a father in order to be raised correctly.

"Redefining marriage as a genderless, adult- centric institution would fundamentally change Utah's child-centered meaning and purpose of marriage."

The proponents of same sex marriage battle the religious arguments with simple facts. Comments to the article on KSL state that the appeal won't hold in court because of its basing on religious views and not facts.

One commenter redwullf responded:

"So the entire argument is about the children? I sure hope that opposite-gender couples who choose not to have children, or cannot have children, will help and stand up and fight against this hogwash. Marriage is not ONLY about the children. There's nothing prohibiting a sterile man or woman from marrying. There's nothing prohibiting a married couple with children form getting a divorce - it should be illegal to divorce if there are children involved, if this argument had any validity to it.

It's so disingenuous! Utah has essentially decided to *use* children to make their case. It's like the puppy defense ("Look at this cute puppy? You wouldn't hurt a puppy, would you?"). It's an appeal to emotion and has no basis in fact, and is completely dishonest.

If you're going to fight against same-sex marriage, at least have the guts to be honest about your reasons for fighting it."


LDS Church, others respond to Prop 8 Decision

By Dave Newlin
SALT LAKE CITY -- Within hours of the ruling, both the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other local leaders and organizations issued statements on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which said that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
The LDS church expressed "regret" for the decision, pointing out that California voters have "twice determined in a general election that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman." It also said that the LDS church shares the view of those California voters.
The statement also called for civility in what has been, and will undoubtedly continue to be, a heated national debate.
"There is no doubt that today's ruling will intensify the debate in this country. We urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion."
Presidential hopeful and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney also voiced his opposition to the ruling, saying that "unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage."
He also said that the ruling showed how important the 2012 presidential election would be.
"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices," Romney said.


Read full story here.
Slowing Growth of the Mormon Church

By Jonathan David |

Spring General Conference marks another annual report of church statistics which confirm the speculation that Church growth has slowed in recent years. Although many sources such as the national census have reported that the number of self-reported "Mormons" is far less than the Church-reported membership statistics, it wasn't until recently when these claims were validated by a general authority.

Late last year, Church Historian Elder Marlin Jensen spoke to a group of faculty and students at Utah State University about the alarming rate at which members are leaving. "Maybe since Kirtland, we've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy, like we're having now," he said, referencing the failure of an illegal church bank in 1837 in which many leaders and members left the church.

Heber Kimball, an apostle of the church at the time said, “there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God” (No Man Knows My History, 203). Joseph Smith was exiled by his own followers and disbelief reached a point that even the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, pledged their loyalty to a prophetess with a black stone following the scandal. Given the severity of this incident in church history, just how many people are leaving today?

The growth of wards is a much more reliable indicator of growth. When referencing a graph representing the trends, it becomes clear that church growth has been declining since 1980. What can't be seen on this graph however, is average ward size.

When I was a missionary in Korea, it was common to attend a ward with 30 other people in a large chapel. The ward records always indicated that the ward was sizable, sometimes reaching a couple hundred members. But on Sundays, the same 30 faces showed up. As missionaries, we had the job of tracking down these other "members." It was rare to find anyone on the seemingly endless list of names and addresses. Each transfer we'd report to the bishop the people who no longer lived at the address recorded and who's current place of residence was unknown which was at least 95% of them. And each transfer, the bishop would fail to send the message on to church headquarters so that the list could be updated. The result was that each new set of missionaries were handed the same endless list of ward "members" to find. I wonder how widespread this problem is.

My home ward in California used to be pretty large... with an average of 200 people in attendance each Sunday. Since I left home, they have since split a couple wards. The result was two wards that could easily fit into the smallish chapel rather than one that commonly overflowed into the cultural hall. When I was younger, I remember it being extremely common to have overflow seating. As time has gone by, however, it seems as if that is becoming less and less common. When taking these observations into account, it may very well be that growth in the number of wards could be fairly unreliable as well. But no matter how it is spun, the statistics are clear. Church growth is slowing.

With estimates of 5 million self-reported members, a mere .07% of the total world population, decline in membership doesn't speak well for an organization claiming to be the "one true Church." If Jensen is right and the prophets of the church "really do know and they really care," it is unlikely that changes will not be made to try and gain growth. But what is this decline in growth indicate, and what will it mean for the Church's future?

One opinion is that the world is simply becoming more wicked and hearts are hardened and earth's inhabitants are dead to the spirit of God. It is easier to point outward and say that "those" people are hard-hearted and "those" people are evil and "we" are the ones who love God and accept his message, but we should remember that "those people" represent the 99.93% of the world. We should also remember that there are still more Mormons today than any other time on earth. It would also be wise to note that there is more freedom, equality, knowledge, comfort, healthcare, and access to education now than at any other time in our history. Society has continued to evolve and grow more "good" over time. So perhaps there is room for another opinion.

Maybe this decline in growth indicates an internal problem. One that many cannot and will not accept. If this is the case, the fact that the leaders of the church are aware of the decline may prove to very positive for the future of the church. When these internal problems are resolved, more people will be attracted to the organization and it will yield an overall better church. The equation goes something like this:

Decline in Growth = Positive Change = Better Organization = Rise in Growth

There are many members who believe the Church does not change because it is true. However, a quick look at church history will demonstrate otherwise. Social pressures have a huge effect on the Church, especially when those pressures translate to decline in growth. The next five years of Church history will be interesting to watch, especially if Romney becomes the next president. But regardless of the outcome, change is in the future.

Loosing My Religion (Part 1)

Podcast #11 April 2012 General Conference Review and Discussion
Brig leads a group of Cor Invictus community members in a discussion and review of the recent procedings of the April 2012 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Click here to download

Editorial Opinion -Time for same-sex LDS marriages
By brad carmack
First Published Apr 04 2012 01:01 am • The Salt Lake Tribune

"Hi, my name is Brad Carmack, calling on behalf of Protect Marriage Maine. Will you vote to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman?"

This was my phone pitch in October of 2009. Calling from Provo, I was a volunteer in the effort to persuade Maine voters to oppose same-sex marriage. The following month the Maine referendum prevailed by 53 percent to 47 percent. Victory!

Now it’s coming up on 2 1/2 years since my anti-same-sex marriage activism and I find myself on the opposite side of the fence. During my last year at Brigham Young University, I risked my diplomas (MPA and JD) by writing and openly distributing a book about same-sex marriage and homosexuality entitled Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective.

As I wrote I discovered the science behind sexual orientation, the social arguments for and against same-sex marriage, and the heart-wrenching stories of gay Mormons. This experience, along with some soul-searching and prayer, eventually convinced me to support same-sex marriage.

Mormonism is unequivocally pro-family. So is same-sex marriage. This is the strongest reason Mormonism can abide gay marriage. To my surprise, I’ve learned that same-sex couples can and do make wonderful parents.

Homosexual orientation is about more than lust; it’s about companionship, emotional intimacy and romance. Just like heterosexual orientation. The gay couples I know experience the same troubles and joys as my opposite-sex friends. Same-sex couples (and their children) stand to gain from the mutual caretaking, community support, and stabilizing effects of marriage. Risky mixed-orientation marriages (such as a gay man and a straight woman) and lifelong celibacy threaten healthy marriage more than do monogamous same-sex partnerships.

I also discovered that there is room within LDS theology for embracing gay families. Yes, I know the church vigorously opposed same-sex marriage in Hawaii, Alaska and California. Yes, many cite the church’s "Family Proclamation" and the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions as clear condemnation of all homosexual behavior. However, the church’s law of chastity has always been explicitly tied to legal marriage — in which case a monogamous, legally married LDS same-sex couple in Massachusetts is already abiding the law of chastity.

What about scripture? We have no record of Jesus condemning homosexuality during His ministry. The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are silent about same-sex relationships. As many scholars have persuasively argued, the five or so Bible verses frequently referenced do not condemn homosexual conduct per se.

The "Family Proclamation" is not doctrine (compare it to both Official Declarations, which were voted on by general church membership), and even if it were, it does not provide an applicable test for discerning one’s spiritual sex (witness intersex persons).

I believe this is the moral issue of my LDS generation. After all, it is my (mostly straight) generation that will become the parents of tomorrow’s gay and lesbian children. My peers and I are fiercely committed to building a world where a robust opportunity for a healthy marriage is not limited to our straight children.

I pray for the day when more Mormons come to see the value of same-sex relationships, and seek to match an institution to the reality of homosexual orientation that will yield the same personal and societal benefits that flow from matching heterosexual marriage to heterosexual orientation.

Jesus taught that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Can we make a Sabbath marriage that is made for mankind — gay/lesbian mankind?

As Latter-day Saints, I for one believe that we can. And I hope that we will.

Brad Carmack is an attorney and lives in Phoenix, where he is an active member of the LDS Church.

Original SLTribune Story