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: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tonymerevick/this-straight-mormon-guy-photobombed-an-anti-gay-rally?utm_term=10cd414#1b5n492

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: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/louisiana-same-sex-marriage-ban_n_5863866.html

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: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/58433698-90/marriage-sex-utah-photos.html.csp


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 : https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/god-loves-gays-billboard-project

Read more here: http://gaysaltlake.com/news/2014/09/09/god-loves-gays-billboard-may-hit-provo/

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: http://gaysaltlake.com/news/2014/09/13/weber-state-debate-sex-marriage-part-constitution-week/

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: http://gaysaltlake.com/news/2014/09/15/anti-marriage-equality-rally-held-thursday-utah-capitol-rotunda/

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: http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=31539199

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: http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=31441872&nid=148&title=lds-church-others-urge-supreme-court-to-hear-same-sex-marriage-case&s_cid=queue-15


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: http://gaysaltlake.com/news/2014/09/05/30-companies-ask-supreme-court-hear-utah-sex-marriage-case/

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: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/breaking_7th_circuit_court_of_appeals_affirms_same_sex_marriage_bans_are_unconstitutional


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.