Monday, April 28, 2014

Utah wants its Own Court to Decide Fate of Utah's Same-Sex Marriages


by Brig Bagley

28 April 2014

Since Utah officials can guess that the Federal Courts will not rule in their favor, they want to appeal to their own Supreme Court to tell them what they want to hear. Utah's Supreme Court is under the same LDS/conservative influence as Utah's AG and Governor, for which they hope would uphold the ban on same-sex marriages.

This "ask daddy because mommy said 'no' " move is just as childish as the AG's plan to revoke adoptions to same-sex parents. "We're going to get what we want, no matter what it takes. And if we can't, we'll take everything we can from you." This is the attitude that comes off from Utah officials that wish to rule over the land with their religious convictions at the helm. Acceptance of gay relationships has sky-rocketed, thanks to Mormon's illegal involvement with California's Prop. 8 in 2008. Even in Utah, every poll has shown greater approval of LGBT equality this year from 2004, even if not a majority. Give it a few years and it will  be the majority by far. 

The AG doesn't care what Utah thinks now--he claims he's only defending Utah's decision 10 years ago because it's his job. But that doesn't excuse him from ignoring more recent polls, the direction of the nation, and his inexplicable adherence to religion over politics.

The KSL comments say things like "make marriage for religion only, and call everything else civil-union", "the voice of one incompetent judge overruling the voice of the people is wrong", and "the courts are tainted with agenda driven politics." Why can't religions make the move to call their special, holy, ritual unions something else--like "sealing" or something--oh wait, they already do! Let religions like Mormons run with their sealing as they please, denying as they please. Marriage is already a secular institution. That cannot be undone. 

The purpose of a small panel of judges reviewing law was set in place exactly for the reason of banishing laws that the majority puts in place to deny rights and opportunities for minorities. One judge can overrule majority law, and should, if the majority seeks to single out a minority and deny it equal rights. Judge Shelby wasn't incompetent, he was genius and daring. He knew his career would be put on the line for doing the right thing, even if many or most people disagreed. He will likely become iconic because of his defiance against the majority opinion.

The courts aren't driven to hear any case except by the appeal of real citizens. A gay, a Mormon, a Jew, an Atheist--no matter who a person is, he/she is in the right to appeal a court when he/she believes the law was not metered correctly, or if the law is thought to be unfair. The judge's duty is to hear the case, review the law, and provide a ruling. The ruling then becomes new law. Doing his job is not part of the "gay agenda". But letting a religion govern the state is most definitely the "Mormon agenda". Why can't the LGBT citizens use the system set in place over a century ago to fight the oppressive, religious majority in Utah? Utahns can still live the Mormon life they desire, unaffected by new laws such as legal same-sex marriage. Gay families will still occur with or without Mormon approval. Do the right thing and give them the rights to have a legally protected family, just like theirs is.

If Utah uses the Utah Supreme Court to contradict the Federal Courts' rulings, there will be even more of the confusion and "strife" they say was introduced by Shelby's ruling in December. It will also be a huge blow to so many families in the state. Utah would make itself the most devious and stubborn government, at odds with the rest of the US.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Motherism: The Missing Side

by Brig Bagley

25 April 2014

A recent article explains a new term for discrimination against stay-at-home mothers. The primary source of discrimination is from working mothers. The premise is that mothers who stay at home, with children or not, are wasting their time and potential by not completing an education or moving on with a career. 

There are a few points to make on the subject. The first is that it is most certainly important that a parent be home for children as much as possible. Some circumstances do not permit that, but the more time a child has with a parent, the more stable the relationships in the family will be. Whether a nanny needs to be hired for the day, or a previously stay-at-home parent picks up work once all the kids are in school, there are ways for it to work. 

The next point is that the article focuses on women and completely brushes over men. True, traditionally men are the workers and not the "mothers", but it is widely acceptable for a father to stay home instead. Are they also victims of motherism? Have they wasted their potential? The comments of the article (very Mormon indeed) often repeat the "important and sacred role" of mothers. It is important to raise children and spend time with them, but that is not gender specific. Mothers are not more capable to raise children inherently than men. Although men cannot nurse, they can bottle, hold, rock, clean, change diapers, sing, clean, or cook like any other. Gay couple or not, a man is just as worthy to stay at home as a woman for the children.

Are stay-at-home parents really wasting their potential? Maybe. If they pick up raising children full-time before completing a college degree, it's likely they won't ever complete it. Every person should receive a college degree. Accidents happen where children come before parents are ready. If that happens, priorities need to shift so that both parents finish school before going to work, in addition to caring for the child. No one knows what the future holds, and if a stay-at-home parent loses their spouse for any reason, caring for children and working will be next to impossible without a degree.

Is it right to scoff at a stay-at-home parent? No. But the stay-at-home parent should be responsible to contribute to the world after children have left the home. The best way to do that is to get your education before taking up kids.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BSA Shuts Down Troop for Gay Scoutmaster

by Brig Bagley

22 April 2014

Geoff McGrath was not hiding his homosexuality when his Church sponsor hired him to lead the local scout troop in Seattle. All of the 15 boys and their parents supposedly were aware of and approved of McGrath as a competent and trustworthy leader for the scouts. When BSA caught wind of an interview of McGrath on TV where he noted his homosexuality, the organization sent a letter to Rev. Monica Cosaro requesting she fire McGrath.

Cosaro refused to comply, resulting in BSA's revoking of the troop's charter and forbidding use of any BSA materials or trademarks. Cosaro and her church believe in equality and she has performed a number of same-sex marriages. It was extremely disappointing to her, let alone McGrath, that the policies of BSA trampled over her and her troop's beliefs.

The boys of the troop will have the opportunity to transfer to other units. But those affected by the dissolved group hope this brings enough attention to invoke change in Boy Scouts of America. Several businesses have halted their support of boy scouts since the ban on gay leaders was upheld, including Disney, Intel, and AT&T. Although boys are allowed to participate as scouts if gay, gay leaders are forbidden to volunteer or participate.

Sexuality has no discussion in scouting, and forbidding participation on the basis of sexuality violates that policy. The risk of sexual misconduct should be judged by the individual's character, instead of the sexuality of said individual. Heterosexual leaders have molested scouts in the past, making the ban on homosexuals invalid, unfair, and discriminatory.

Read more here:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Atheists and Mormons

by Brig Bagley

17 April 2014

A group of Mormons and Atheists gathered in a panel for what what hoped to be a amicable discussion on the misconceptions of both sides. Atheists have been growing in Utah, and have even purchased ads on prominent billboards in downtown Salt Lake. With history of Mormons teaching against atheism, even recently, this was an important discussion for understanding. 

Recent LDS conference Quotes:

"At the same time, atheism, the secular religion, is admitted to class, and our youngsters are proselyted to a conduct without morality." - Boyd Packer

"As prophesied, we live in a time when the darkness of secularism is deepening around us. Belief in God is widely questioned and even attacked in the name of political, social, and even religious causes. Atheism, or the doctrine that there is no God, is fast spreading across the world." - Robert Hales

The Mormons claimed that the largest misconception by non-believers was being exclusionary. Mormons are taught to let others worship "how, where, or what they may." Although Mormons are taught to love everyone, even Boyd Packer warned against tolerance overruling morals. And in fact, members are regularly interviewed for "worthiness", which excludes unworthy members from participating in many church activities, including ceremonies like public prayer and temple worship. some are even denied or revoked membership when a church leader determines a person to be unworthy. Is that not the exclusionary nature of the church?

The Atheists believed they are often wrongly associated with immorality. Morality is chosen by the individual, instead of defined by a religion. Of course, the two will differ, but being an atheist does not make one a lawless, loveless criminal. That comes from imbalanced people that lack empathy.

Atheist's quest is to save the world from religious brainwashing, and often actively express their views in the forms of blogs, protests, and proselyting. Religious people say it is fine for people to not believe, as long as they don't shove atheism down their throat. But isn't one of the greatest callings among the religious to "spread the word" door to door? There's certainly a double standard there.

While neither party will fully grasp the other, the panel was seen as mostly good. Mormons believe to be the saviors to lost atheists, while Atheists believe to be the redemption from a suppressed, close-minded, and brain-washed community.

Dallin Oaks Speaks Out On Religious Freedom 

by Brig Bagley

17 April 2014

LDS Leader Dallin Oaks voices his concern for the controversies between free speech, freedom of religion, and non-discrimination. He was interviewed, and is scheduled to speak to students at UVU at the Spring Symposium.

Read more here:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Traditional Marriage Supporters Rally at Capitol Friday after Amendment 3 Case in Denver

by Brig Bagley

14 April 2014

Duplicating the efforts by same-sex marriage supporters, traditional marriage supporters welcomed home the state officials and their attorneys after the hearing of the Amendment 3 case in Denver Thursday. It was a last-minute effort by the Eagle Forum, and several groups showed up to voice their support of banning the legalization of same-sex couples' ability to marry in Utah.

Although Sean Reyes, the AG of Utah doesn't voice his opinion and only says he is "fighting for the laws passed by the people of Utah," it is undoubtedly his belief and duty to Mormon policy to protect the religion's stance. Supporters of same-sex marriage appreciated his amiable approach before the case, but the plaintiffs were confused and believe Reyes doesn't understand "the real harm" he is causing to so many Utah families.

Even if 66 percent of Utah approved of the same-sex marriage ban in 2004, surveys show that the majority now has reversed 10 years later. Why protect so adamantly a law that is now outdated? Why waste so many tax dollars for a minority? Because Reyes and his much of his team pitch for the largely LDS influenced government. Using an official legal excuse as an answer to the press is how he believes he can stay on the good side of all Utah citizens. It's all about people pleasing and re-election. And his religion, of course. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Amendment 3 Case Updates

by Brig Bagley

11 April 2014

I don't have much more to offer personally on the court case. The arguments, thoughts, and feelings on both sides remain the same. The comments on the news forum are still both understanding as well as offensive and misinformed. The case will be close, and we won't have a final answer until early summer is the best estimate. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Utah's AG Sean Reyes is Pushing to Halt Same-Sex Adoptions

by Brig Bagley

10 April 2014

It would be no surprise if Mormon Attorney General of Utah is fighting for a small wealthy group of conservatives. He was brought into office unexpectedly when his predecessor stepped down, appointed by Gov. Herbert of Utah. These two men are in the same bed when it comes for defending outdated and unpopular religious beliefs. Both are Mormon and are no doubt taking under-the-table orders from Mormon leaders, probably explicitly, but certainly implicitly. Mormons are encouraged to take their beliefs to office to enforce them onto the rest of society. 

This time, Reyes has done exactly what he has claimed same-sex marriages would do: hurt the children of Utah. There were dozens of couples that married in Utah when it was legal, but then also filed for second parent adoption, or even a new joint adoption. But while Reyes believe all eyes were on Denver for the Amendment 3 court session, he quietly filed for "Emergency Extraordinary Relief" to overturn and reverse any progress on adoptions for all of Utah's same-sex couples. Reyes fears that allowing the adoptions was basically say Utah approves of gay marriage.

So now, there are several children that could have had normal, legally-recognized families, but now could face foster care with potentially unhealthy homes if their legal parent becomes ill or dies. Not to mention the several children that would have been adopted that no longer can.

Who is really destroying Utah's loving families and hurting children? People like Sean Reyes and his partner in Utah government, Gary Herbert. Any and all of their arguments against gay parent families are from outdated polls and laws, unreliable and biased research, or religiously fabricated documents. The actions taken and money wasted by them should convince any conservative to re-think who they should have as leaders of Utah.

Read more here: 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rally to Send off Amendment 3 Plantiffs

by Brig Bagley

8 April 2014

Yesterday, a group of about 200 Utahns gathered to rally in support of the plaintiffs challenging Utah's Amendment 3. The mayor of Salt Lake and 3 of the plaintiffs were the primary speakers at the event, voicing their support and excitement for the case to take place this Thursday.

I joined dozens of others in signing heart-shaped cards wishing the best to the plaintiffs and the attorneys that will be leaving Wednesday. Emotion, energy, and optimism was high for the small but powerful group of Utah citizens.

Read more here:

Monday, April 7, 2014

10th District Court Case Thursday and Related News

by Brig Bagley

7 April 2014

The historic case Kitchen vs. Herbert will be heard this Thursday in Denver. Many Utahns look forward to the results of this case, which could take up to a couple of months to be released. But the attorneys fighting against the same-sex ban are confident they will win.

The case is about love and equal rights and protection and due process under the law. It's not about religion, tradition, or protecting children from the lack of such. But it is about giving children and families the same protections, opportunities, and treatment despite uncontrollable gender identity and attraction differences.

Bill Bradshaw is a gay rights activist, an active Mormon, and an intellectual. He researched microbiology at BYU and claims sexual preference to be connected to genetics. In a new advertisement coming out this week in preparation for the court case, Bradshaw and his wife will ask Utahns to support gay marriage because it will benefit the state, not hurt it. The couple have a typical large Mormon family, and one son who is gay.

In related news, the US Supreme Court decides to not hear the New Mexico case appeal where Christian photographers were sued for not providing services to a lesbian couple. This means that in New Mexico only, it is illegal for a public business to refuse service to any customer for discriminatory reasons, despite religious beliefs.

Another LDS Conference Silently Passes

by Brig Bagley

7 April 2014

Unless you're hanging out within a few blocks of Temple Square, most wouldn't notice the LDS Conference in session this last weekend. The Mormons quickly and quietly filtered into the Conference Center to hear their senior citizen, male, wealthy, and predominantly white leaders speak on love, faith and obedience. The protesters walking around or holding signs were quiet and respectful, yet hoping to grab the attention of questioning Mormons afraid to dissent from the faith. 

Another group, Ordain Women, went to Temple Square to ask to be admitted to the Priesthood Session, one by one. They were refused, one by one, as expected, but are determined to remain a growing entity to draw attention to the gender inequality in the church. 

The talks given by leaders this time around were rather typical and vanilla, with almost no mentioning to the social issues that have been pressuring the core beliefs of the church. There was a talk by Dallin Oaks that addressed women and the priesthood. But emphasis was on promoting the recent successes, such as the 40% increase in missionaries and 4% increase in converts. Along those lines, nothing was said about how the increase of converts is embarrassing for how many more missionaries there are. Nor the increase of inactivity or church membership resignations. No new temples were announced, either. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mississippi Governor Signs Religious Freedom Bill

Phil Bryant is pictured. | AP Photo

by Brig Bagley

4 April 2014

Against hopeful expectations, Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi quickly signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a private gathering. Among this group were a few officials, lobbyists for the Southern Baptists, and the president of the Family Research Council (a very anti marriage equality group). Mississippi becomes the 19th state to pass a religious freedom act that resembles the one signed into law in 1993 by Bill Clinton. 

Supporters of the act claim that it hardly resembles the act vetoed by Jan Brewer in Arizona a few weeks ago. But protesters fear that the new law, active July 1, 2014, will encourage new levels of discrimination against gays and lesbians. There is no explicit mention of LGBT people, but the supporters use the example of permitting wedding cake companies to refuse making a cake for gay weddings based on religious belief. No lawsuits could allow government to fine or punish such discrimination with this new law. 

To begin with, LGBT people already have no special protections in the state of Mississippi. To give anyone the right to discriminate for religious reasons would certainly give people more power to take advantage of LGBT citizens. And what constitutes as a religious reason? Any personal belief? A legitimate religious document? 

Religious freedom is a great thing. But allowing religion to rule everything that happens is religious oppression. A business or company, large or small, is not a person that has a right to exercise religion.

Read more here: 

Mozilla CEO Resigns

by Brig Bagley

4 April 2014

Brendan Eich responded to protests for his anti marriage equality beliefs by resigning as CEO of Mozilla.

"Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves," Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said in a blog post. "We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better."

One question arises with this situation: whether leaders of large companies are free to have their own beliefs, even if they don't project the beliefs onto the company. Eich believed it was unfair for the consumers to expect him to change his beliefs or make a public apology. Inclusiveness is important in a company, so if any minority is excluded, a company will suffer. But whether the mere beliefs of the leaders constitutes as exclusivity is what we must consider. Instead of compromising his beliefs, Eich decided to step down for the best interests of the company, and his own best interests.

A couple lessons to be learned here:

1) Don't project your beliefs onto government or business. If something important to you is incompatible with the entity for which you are associating, remove yourself from it, or explicitly state your intentions to keep your beliefs separate from your business.

2) Don't compromise your beliefs for the masses. Even if most people disagree with you, you are free to believe as you wish. Just don't expect everyone to believe as you do.

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mississippi's "Legalized Discrimination" Bill Passes and Awaits Governor's Veto

by Brig Bagley

2 April 2014

Another "religious freedom" in the works, Mississippi awaits the fate of legislation that could allow anyone to discriminate against LGBT people in the state for religious reasons. Both the state house and senate passed the bill after several revisions, but none of the revisions gave protections to LGBT people. Governor Phil Bryant is expected to veto the bill, but it isn't known for sure what will happen.

Gay couples could be refused lodging in hotels, meals at restaurants, and even vaccinations, medications, and treatments at hospitals or pharmacies because employees or employers would legally be able to refuse the service for religious beliefs that oppose that lifestyle. 

Since when does doing your job affect your ability to worship? Laws like this will hurt the state--and not only it's LGBT citizens. Businesses that oppose the law will move out, hurting the economy and the rest of the state. It's bad policy all around.

Dating App "OkCupid" says "Avoid Firefox"

OkCupid: Boycott Firefox over new Mozilla CEO’s support of Prop 8

by Brig Bagley

2 April 2014

OKCupid is a popular dating website/app--primarily for gay men. When the new CEO for Mozilla stepped in, OKCupid took a political stand and decided to warn its users. When using Firefox browser, if you access the OKCupid site, a message appears asking users to reconsider usage of Firefox and recommends other options.

CEO Brendan Eich of Mozilla reportedly contributed $1000 to Prop 8 support in CA in 2008. His views against gay marriage are public, and OKCupid doesn't want support going to his company for that reason.

Don't use OKCupid, but want a different browser than Firefox now? Try Chrome, Opera, or Safari.

Boy Scouts Remove Gay Leader in Seattle

by Brig Bagley

2 April 2014

Geoff McGrath was invited to be a troop leader in Seattle for Rainier Beach United Methodist Church by its pastor. He was said to be the most qualified, and his activism for gay rights was a non-issue to the pastor, the parents, and the kids. After mentioning being gay during a media interview, the BSA sent McGrath a letter revoking his leadership, saying it was against BSA policy to permit it. 

McGrath said he didn't try to hide being gay, and that he and the pastor were transparent in the application for the troop. He believed that headquarters was experimenting with new leadership ideas when he was initially permitted to lead. Representatives of BSA reported that sexual preference is not a conversation to be had in scouting. Boys are permitted to be openly gay in troops, but gay leaders are prohibited.

Both McGrath and his husband of 6 years are Eagle Scouts. McGrath came out in 1988 at the age of 23. He expected his relationship with BSA to end, but was shocked to be placed as a leader. With that role stripped from him now, the publicity is bound to put even more pressure on headquarters to further revise its policies to end discrimination against gays: minors and adults.

Scouting is commonly looked back as some of the more enjoyable experiences for men, whether gay or straight. Prohibiting boys and men that wish to continue the experiences into the future for attributes like sexuality that are not a choice is unfair. BSA is right to say sexuality is not a discussion for scouting, but that doesn't mean it can restrict participation based on it. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Marriage Appeals Hearings: Judges and Dates Set

Judge Carlos Lucero     Judge Jerome Holmes 

by Brig Bagley

1 April 2014

Judges Lucero, Holmes, and Kelly (left to right pictured above) were randomly selected to sit on the cases for Utah and Oklahoma in regards to same-sex marriage bans in the respective states. The states agreed to have separate, but parallel hearings. Utah will be April 10, and Oklahoma April 17. 

Lucero would probably be considered the most liberal of the three (appointed by Clinton 1995), while Kelly the most conservative (appointed by G. H. W. Bush 1992). Holmes is somewhere in the middle (appointed by G. W. Bush 2006). Lucero has hired several gay clerks and is thought to be supportive of equality. Holmes is considered to be open-minded--he did vote against the Amendment 3 stay back in December, which eventually forwarded the request to the US Supreme Court. Kelly is known to support Hobby Lobby's case to refuse certain birth control healthcare to women. 

The panel appears to be on the conservative side, yet still well-balanced. Lucero and Holmes have both explicitly stated that personal opinions are inappropriate for court cases and will rule without respect to their own opinions on the matter. Kelly, the eldest and longest serving federal judge, is arguably the largest question mark concerning how he will rule. 

Even if the outcome is still unknown, the momentum of equal rights for LGBT folks is unlikely to change direction in these cases. Hopefully by the end of this month, we will have the rulings to move on to the next step: the US Supreme Court.

Read more here: