Wednesday, December 30, 2015

FDA Permits 1-Year Celibate Homosexuals to Donate Blood

Since the AIDs crisis in 1983, the FDA banned men who have had sex with men from ever donating blood for life--until now.

Although the percentage of homosexuals that have contracted HIV is greater than heterosexuals, LGBT activists are still claiming that the policy is unfair and stigmatized. From a health and science perspective, experts are saying that the 1-year policy is enough time to know if a gay person has contracted HIV and whether he is eligible to provide healthy blood.

The arguments that heterosexuals also have come in contact with HIV, use/share infected needles for drugs, and/or have high numbers of sexual partners are not enough for policy makers to accept blood in a fashion that does not stigmatize gay and bisexual men. Such options are claimed to be expensive, and financially unethical. The celibacy period is the best option at this point to allow gay and bisexual men to donate without increasing the spread of HIV. As science and treatments progress, there is hope to eradicate HIV risk and potentially remove policies that exclude gay men.

Friday, December 11, 2015

SLC Mayor-Elect Biskupski Meets with LDS Leaders

The elected SLC Mayor is wasting no time meeting with the most influential groups in the city to get things done. She already asked almost all the city department heads to resign for a review. Now she is discussing city issues with LDS leaders.

Although LGBT issues were not discussed during the meeting, Biskupski left a letter to Mr. Christofferson, LDS apostle, addressing her (and other citizens) private concerns about the anti-gay policies recently released.

Biskupski is already tickling me to death. She is jumping in head first by choosing the best heads of departments (in terms of who will work with her and get things done), she is meeting with the looming conservative power in the city as a democrat, and she is sensitively representing the thoughts of the city's citizens.

I find it extremely wise of her to not focus on the anti-gay church policies in the meeting, as they are not relevant to city policy. But noting that she is putting in a private word to express her constituents' concerns shows she is doing what she can.

The church's policies leak into secular activities because of it's huge influence. Honestly, I think the anti-polygamy policies are just as hurtful. The argument, "we are also bad to group A, so it makes sense to be bad to group B" isn't a great one.

When people here say that "it is a sin and that will not change", remember that what is sin in the LDS world does change. IE: blacks, polygamy, alcohol... etc. The constancy in the LDS church doesn't really exist.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mass Resignation from LDS Church

In an organized protest Saturday, thousands of people marched around temple square, signed papers prepared by a local attorney, and mailed their resignations from the LDS Church, demanding that their names be removed from the records of the Church.

Although the large majority of the resignations (known from Facebook polls) were already inactive or non-believing Mormons, the number of members reported by the church would still be affected. That is granted that the church membership records truly do deduct these resignations from their reports.

Church leaders and PR reps state that this is a minor resignation event, and the number of the church are still growing, higher that ever. What the LDS church does not report is the number of recent baptisms that go inactive soon after joining. One only needs to look at the number of stakes and wards to truly determine the growth of the church. A certain amount of "priesthood holders" is needed for each unit. In addition, a count of attending members each week is the main factor in deciding whether a new unit need be split, dissolved, or added.

Although the church membership appears to grow, the number of growing units does not match up. See the link below:

This is only one event, whereas several individuals across the US are resigning as a result of the newest policies and the facts released by the church and others that don't match its teachings.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Same-Sex Foster Couple Stripped of Child by Judge

Beckie Pierce and April Hoagland of Carbon County, Utah, have been ordered by Utah's Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen. Johansen stated that the 1-year-old girl would be better off with heterosexual parents. This same judge ordered a teen's hair be chopped off for cutting a small girl's hair in a restaurant.

Despite the biological mother's wish that the two women foster and adopt the girl, and their disagreement with the court order, the foster agencies are working to comply with the Judge. The mothers are devastated. The are already raising Pierce's two biological teenage children, and have stated that the little girl has joined the family seamlessly. 

LGBT rights activists are enraged that one ultra-conservative judge is tearing apart this family.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

In protest to the LDS policies in place last week, a group held a protest at Temple Square, and a candlelight vigil at Pioneer Park. These supporters of LGBT rights and equality are upset with the hateful message the policies represent. Same-sex parents are enraged with the attack on children for having committed no crime or sin.

Some are calling for a repeal on the policies, and an apology from the LDS Church. Neither of which are likely anytime soon. But many are recognizing the imminent effect on gay kids in the church at risk for teasing, judging, and bullying at school, or even expulsion by parents from the home (despite the church's plea not to do so). Even if no one knew a Mormon kid was gay, the internal conflict will often rise to depression and attempts at suicide.

LDS Leaders Defend New Policies

In response to the backlash, LDS leaders are staging interviews to attempt to clarify the new policies in the local leader handbooks. The policies prohibit children of same-sex parents from receiving a name and a blessing or being baptized, declare same-sex cohabitation serious transgression, and same-sex marriage a form of apostasy. Furthermore, these children must disavow their parent's relationship and never live in the same habitation.

The church wishes to clarify that the policy is meant to protect children, families, and the church from creating an environment of conflict. They hope this will prevent differences between church pressure and family teachings at home.

The message these policies send, however has more meaning than their declared purpose. Same-sex couples and gay people hear loud and clear that there is no bridge between Mormons and homosexuality. The pressure is heightened for people to choose their church, or a life that fulfills their natural attractions.

Friday, November 6, 2015

LDS Church : Children of Same-sex Couples Excluded

The second of two leaked policy updates for local LDS leadership, the Mormons have announced that children of married or cohabitating same-sex partners may not recieve a baby blessing and name, be baptized, or recieve any other ordinances that it provides.

Such children, whether adults or not, may not be eligible for these practices unless (1) they are of legal age--18, AND (2) they move out of the home of same-sex parents/guardians and disavow the practice of same-sex marriage/choabitation.

LDS spokespersons say these policies are to protect the home and church from conflict between what children are taught at home and what they are taught at church. Similar policies exist with children of polygamous families, they say, attempting to merit the policy.

But what about children that are gay in the church? This announcement removes all hope for combining their inherent and immutable sexual feelings with their upbringing, family, and future with being a Mormon. This conflict is already prevalent, but now will worsen with more depression and teen suicides. Also consider the gay Mormons that are adults, especially those in LDS schools like BYU. They no longer have hope for a life with a same-sex spouse and children while keeping a relationship with the church.

Punishing children for their parent's actions (that are only subjectively immoral by decree) is what the LDS church states is necessary.

There are already cases where gay parents sharing custody of children in the church are fearing that their children will not be able to serve missions, be baptized, ect, or even worse, are forced to reject the gay parents in order to follow their LDS plans.

The Trevor Project, as well as other suicide hotlines, saw a triple increase in calls the day after the policy was leaked. Some of these hotlines specialize in homosexuality and religion.

Although the news has not reported it, there are several parents who have children that have attempted and/or been successful at suicide since the policies were made public.

LDS Church : Entering a Same-Sex Marriage is Apostasy


One of two leaked policy updates stated to local Bishops and Stake Presidents in their manuals that any member entering a same-sex marriage is engaging in apostate behavior, which means he/she is eligible for excommunication. Previously, such wedded same-sex couples may have been admitted to membership, as long as they did not engage in homosexual behaviors.

In addition, same-sex partnership cohabitations are considered "serious transgressions", also grounds for disciplinary action and excommunication.

This policy further solidifies the anti-gay teachings of the LDS church. Despite their efforts at finding middle-ground for secular policy, policies like these highlight the "two steps back" it takes each time.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mormons One of Highest Devout Religions

Deseret News reported surveys that revealed Mormons to be the near-top religion for devout members.

The trend is surprisingly moreso with younger members. Overall, greater than 80% of active Mormons in almost all categories are firm with church attendence, scripture reading, prayer, certainty of God, putting all beliefs on faith, and say that the religion is the large majority of their lives.

At the bottom of the article, it notes that the approval of homosexuality in the LDS church has risen from 25% in 2007 to 36%, but only 25% approve of same-sex marriage, while 69% oppose it. Still, the numbers are higher than one might expect.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Attempting to Reverse Court Decisions

Kim Davis of Kentucky is now working with lawyers to reverse the decisions that put her in jail, put her in contempt of court, and forced her to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Is Ms. Davis in the right to project her beliefs onto her elected and tax-payer paid position and affect the rights of other citizens?

The rage continues from the religious right, saying it is First Amendment rights being trampled when a person is jailed for their beliefs. But Davis was jailed for not fulfilling her court-ordered duties, even if the reason was religious.

Were Davis's actions a plan from early on to start a fire for a religious agenda? If she wasn't elected, she could simply be removed. But he must either resign (which she refuses) or be impeached by a vote, which isn't likely to happen in a small conservative community. The situation is very unique and brings to question whether it was orchestrated by either her or another conservative entity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LDS Leader Ballard Speaks at World Congress of Families

The World Congress of Families conference met this past weekend for the first time in the US. Considering Utah's extreme conservativism, Salt Lake was the city of choice to host it. In addition, several LDS leaders, including LDS Apostle Russell Ballard, spoke at the assemblies.

Although the words Ballard gave were the expected conservative rhetoric the LDS church always provides, Ballard also asked that kindness and civility always be the way to communicate with those who have differing opinions. He praised the legislation in Utah that protected the LGBT from public discrimination, yet also outlined and preserved the right for religious people to express their opinions against opposing lifestyles.

He mentioned an example where a school refused to warn parents about a story that was read about two princes falling in love. He called this a "diminishing of diversity" and "skewing of scales of equality". Although parents should be aware of the material their child is given, it is hardly less diverse and equal to have one story read be homosexual, where the other 300 stories they are read are heterosexual. A parent is free to remove a child from what they want to (even at the expense of the child), but having material removed for all children is really what "diminishes diversity" and "skews the scales".

LDS Doctrine begins and ends with the "natural", "nuclear" family. It warns against alternative "conterfiet" lifestyles. That has never changed. But, it has made small steps to be *more* fair in its influence in politics, and has called for civility amoung its members, condemning violence and hateful speech.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mormons Release New Essays: Heavenly Mother, Women and Priesthood

Last week, essays leaked from the LDS Church outlining information regarding the historical practices and references to female priesthood and a godly mother, respectively. Many members are calling these new additions to the recent pile of essays released by the church "very exciting". Seeing the church officially include reference to women and the priesthood in doctrine, and an explicit tribute to a mother in heaven, appears to satisfy many--pleased that the church is appearing to be transparent with its past.

Other experts believe the new information is just as confusing as the church's current stance on the issue. The essay claims that women exercise priesthood authority without being ordained to it, referencing their use of it in temples and elsewhere. But the men of the church are still the leaders, the blessers, the ordainers, and the presiders. Many believe that it's not just access to the priesthood that is important, but gender equality in the church. Ordain Women is one such organization. It's not just about "ordaining women", but acknowledging that there is inequality in the church that needs balance to further empower the equal capacities of women.

One may also ask, why take so long to release this information? People were asking these questions decades ago, long after women's rights and civil rights. Is it a move to appease the media? To calm the discussions with its dedicated members? Much of this information has always been available, but has been hidden away and slashed from church discussions. Being transparent now only brings up the suspicions as to why the information was not shared with its members and the world before.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dallin Oaks Speaks Out on Freedom For/From Religion

Dallin Oaks, a Mormon Apostle, spoke in Sacramento recently to judges and clergy about the fine line between civics and religion.

Oaks conceded that there must be a balance between religious freedom and civil liberties laws. There should be no "all or nothing", there should be no "us and them", and there should be no adversaries. Laws, he said, should reflect improvements and protections for both sides with opposing beliefs.

However, the apostle also said that elected officials should not insert personal beliefs to affect their decision making in their jobs. Giving the example of Kim Davis, the Kansas clerk that refused to issue same-sex licenses based on her beliefs, Oaks outlined that once the law is handed down from the highest officials, it is not appropriate to disobey. On the flip side, he criticized Obama and his Attorney General for not standing up for DOMA, based on personal secular beliefs against it.

Oaks mentioned that the decision handed down by SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage did not take extreme views and outlines that the First Amendment rights of religious people are still protected to declare their beliefs against the practice. So long as they do not prevent others who wish to have it.

The apostle says religious people are important to contribute to laws that will help government, civil law, and citizens flourish. He condemned the violations of free speech for religions, and asked anti-religious people to respect and honor a religious citizen's place in society.

The conflict between those who feel oppressed by religious intolerance, and those who feel their religious influence is being limited by government intervention has been the highlight of political topic as of late. Very controversial ideas: same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, and abortion, have been given legal status, enraging conservatives that believe their principles should be enforced on all people.

Utah Pays Fees for Fighting Lesbian Parentship

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has decided to concede and end the battle against two mothers that wish to be listed on their child's birth certificate.

Utah officials, according to the couple, denied the request from Angie and Kami Roe months ago, soon after the US Supreme Court outlawed same-sex marriage bans. The couple sued Utah, saying they could only have the non-biological mother adopt the child as a step-parent--which they considered invasive, prolonged and unfair.

Heterosexual couples have no problem listing the husband and wife on an adopted child's birth certificate. Angie and Kami said they should be treated the same.

Many argue that it's unnatural to have same-sex parents, and that the birth certificate should reflect the biological parentage. In response, proponents say that it's not questioned when non-biological heterosexual parents are listed on the document, so why would a same-sex couple be different? In addition, the parents names on the birth certificate give them full guardianship over the child, which every organization must respect. Otherwise, schools, hospitals, and similar could deny one of these mothers the ability to make health decisions for the child in an emergency. Or, protective services could take the child away if the biological mother becomes incapacitated or dies.

The cost for the case is $24 thousand dollars for Utah. Although Sean Reyes is responsible for accruing the cost and losing the case, his bill will come out of tax-payer's pockets.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mormon Apostle Ballard & Anti-Gay Prop.8 Leader/Pastor to Speak at World Congress

Mormon apostle to address World Congress of Families in Salt LakeWCF and Sutherland bringing Prop 8 leader to Salt Lake

Russell Ballard, a Mormon apostle, and Jim Garlow, a San Diego Pastor heavily involved in the Prop 8 passing, will both be speaking at the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake this October. The WCF is criticized for being anti-gay because it states the only legitimate families are the "natural family", or that of one biological mother and one biological father married by law. Not only is this stance considered anti-gay, but it excludes adoptions, divorce, re-married, and single-parent homes.

Garlow has used several offensive comparisons when describing gay marriage: SSM is like fighting the Nazis, SSM is putting Christians into slavery, Satan's destruction of marriage starts with SSM, SSM is just as damaging to children who lost parents in 9/11, SSM is worse than abortion, Obama has forced a damaging social experiment on the military for allowing gays to openly participate, SSM is like a poorly wired home with improper plumbing.

Ballard has been a key player in fighting against SSM in both California and Hawaii. He also helped draft the "Proclamation to the World," a document that explicitly denounces LGBT families and calls on the destruction of God upon them. The Proclamation to the World is the single most quoted document (and considered scripture by the LDS Church and its members) in fighting and criticizing gay marriage and trans-gendered people.

The involvement of the LDS Church in WCF is not surprising, but is a sad two steps back for the image and progress it has made in Utah concerning its LGBT citizens.

Monday, September 21, 2015

LDS Church Will Remain with BSA

LDS Church to stay with scouting program … for now

Last month, the LDS church issued a statement to declare their continued charter with the BSA:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country. 
In the resolution adopted on July 27, 2015, and in subsequent verbal assurances to us, BSA has reiterated that it expects those who sponsor Scouting units (such as the Church) to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values “in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.” At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards. 
With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.

Since the LDS Church was reassured that they could appoint leaders of their choosing and discrimination, they will continue their association withe BSA. 

Since Utah scouting is primarily LDS chartered, some groups are working to get nondenominational charters that openly accept LGBT people as leaders and scouts. One such group is "Restore Our Humanity", a group that started in protest to Utah's Amendment 3 banning same-sex marriage.

SB296, a bill passed in Utah this year to balance anti-discrimination for LGBT and Religious Freedom to those that oppose lifestyles associated with LGBT people, specifically adds protections for BSA. It is likely that there will be hurdles for new groups supporting LGBT scouting to be recognized by the Great Salt Lake North District Council. Although BSA nationally approves gay scouts and leaders, the local councils may block the creation of groups they don't approve of in relation to LGBT people.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

World Congress of Families Approaches: Controversy

Logo World Congress of Families Summit

Conservative extremists, including a Mormon Apostle, Russell Ballard, and several outspoken leaders known for supporting anti-gay legislation, will be speaking at the conference in SLC this October.

The group claims to be inclusive while promoting their ideal of the "natural family", a one man one woman marriage and natural born children. But LGBT supporters say that it marginalizes other family options, which is damaging at the very least to LGBT families. A counter conference protesting the WCF will be offered about the same time.

Jailed, Defiant KY Clerk: Fallout

Jailed clerk\'s attorney: Marriage licenses for gays are void

Kim Davis of Rowan County, KY has been in jail for several days now, igniting a harsh debate between LGBT supporters and religious conservatives.

Davis has been offered release if she would vow to not interfere with her employees issuing licences to couples. Davis refused, say she did not want to issue them because it requires her signature as an elected county clerk.

Since her imprisonment, Judge Bunning ordered that the other clerks in the office issue licenses or suffer the same consequences as Davis. All complied except Davis's son. Banning decided it wasn't an issue as long as other clerks provided the licenses and Davis's son did not prevent the issuing of licenses.

Several couples celebrated their long-awaited marriage licenses from the Rowan County office after the imprisonment of Davis. Rallies from both sides chanted "Love Wins" and "Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah".  Many gathered at Davis's prison to yell out their support for her fight in "God's name".  Davis states she is happy with her head up, suffering the consequences as Martin Luther King, Jr. Others say this is no comparison. Davis has the key to her own cell. This is no martyr. This is a demonstration to devolve civil progression in the name of religion.

Davis, from jail, and her attorney stated that these licenses were invalid without her signature. Judge Bunning said the validity is unknown, and it's the couples' own risk considering the situation. Banning hopes that the legislature changes the laws removing the requirement for the clerk's signature, whether executive order or an expensive unplanned legislative session.

Utah experts say that Kentucky and other states can learn from the laws recently put in the books in Utah to protect those with religious beliefs and the rights of LGBT citizens. Any clerk unwilling to provide licenses to gay couples is removed from the ability to issue them to anyone. No official signature is required by the elected clerk, but is permitted if the clerk wishes. As far as performing marriages, no office is required to provide an officiator, so long as an alternative judge or religious leader is provided and willing to perform it. Davis and Weber counties are the only ones in UT no longer perform marriages, but they offer several other options to applicants.

Although the results from this debacle are only speculation, there is hope that a compromise can be made so that Davis doesn't not need to violate her conscience, but also that legal applicants can receive their licenses in Rowan County.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

KY Clerk Ordered to Jail by Judge

Kim Davis was sentenced to jail among her co-workers for refusing to comply with the federal order to issue licences for marriage to same and opposite sex couples. The catalyst was the ruling that SSM is legal across the states. Since that day, she refused to issue the licensed based on her religious beliefs.

The judge chose to jail Davis instead of fining her, since he believed the fines wouldn't change her mind to start issuing licences. With her out, another would have to take her place to issue the licenses.

The plaintiffs only wished to fine her onerously to either force her to comply or force her to leave office. One stated that it was about getting the marriage license, not forcing her to change her beliefs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Uses God to Refuse SSM Licenses

Kim Davis of Rowan County, KY believes it is her right to invoke the authority of God and impose her conscience on others by refusing to provide marriage licences to same-sex couples. Since the SCOTUS ruling, she has refused to issue any licences, same-sex or not. Four couples have sued her for failing to perform her duties as a clerk.

Many argue in favor of religion and God to rally behind Davis for holding true to her faith. But protesters argued that she should be fined for not doing her full job, and is yet paid a whopping $80k a year. The lawyers fighting Davis say she should be fined onerously, not jailed, since she is getting paid so much for a job she is refusing to perform properly.

Federal Judges have ruled she must conform to the law. The SCOTUS refused to intervene, meaning the lower courts' decisions hold and Davis has no legal hold on her beliefs.

Many believe that it is an attack on religious people that SSM proponents cannot accept religious views in cases like this, but that SSM supporters are forcing their beliefs on the religious. But the counter argues that beliefs are beliefs, and when they conflict with the law, they cannot be defended. Holding a belief is one thing, but actions that impose those beliefs on another is not a legal right.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Opinions: Tax Exemptions for Anti-Gays

Ultra Mormon and conservative US - Utah Senator Mike Lee has questioned the IRS about the possibility of tax-exempt status being stripped of religious institutions for their beliefs on same-sex marriage.

IRS representatives have committed to not take action or lawsuits up against anti-gay religious institutions--for now. It may be a couple years, but it is foreseen to be an issue in the future.

Religious institutions are not ever (as we see the law now) going to be forced to marry any couple. But there are other religious institutions, such as schools, that hold religious beliefs and have and still will punish students for violating certain moral codes. The greatest example here at home: BYU.

BYU schools are known to investigate the personal lives of students. Roommates, friends, and even family have turned in students to the "Honor Code Office" to rat out people that were seen drinking, smoking, or committing "sexual sin". One of the largest remaining witch hunts is for active homosexuals. If there is even one witness to a homosexual activity, a full investigation on that student often leads to expulsion and sometimes withholding of academic records. Such an event can ruin any person's future.

But BYU wants to reserve the right to meter punishments for such things. It also wants to keep its federal funding and ties. Can both exist? Can you have a legal right to discriminate in this situation and still be tax-exempt?

Most conservatives believe "yes". They believe they are being targeted for holding these beliefs. But aren't they targeting people they merely "believe" to be wrong?

Here is my response to one who thinks they are wronged by being stripped of their ability to judge another:

As much as I think your view is inhumane, you believe mine is "evil". So whatever. You are welcome to hold your opinion. As am I. But if you kick me out of a school or directly cause me harm verbally or physically because I am gay or have married my partner legally, you betcha I will fight against your government protected religious privileges. I would expect you to retaliate similarly if I disrespect you, slander you, or physically harm you for holding your belief as well.
This is NOT about the "gay agenda". How insulting. Can you possibly imagine the hate, fear, and emotional pain of a gay person hiding their identity because people like you condemn them to hell for having such feelings? The young people depressed and committing suicide because they would rather die than have their family reject them?
This is about changing attitudes so that one can live who they are without society belittling them to animals. You don't have to participate, but you MUST respect them and allow them to live their life. You are not violating your religion by providing services to people that you think are "sinning". It is not your right to decide who deserves to receive your service or product. The gays are not infringing on your rights. You are just upset that you now have to share your rights with them. Shame on you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Utah Majority Still Opposes Gay Marriage

Recent polls show that support for gay marriage in Utah is down, lower than earlier this year. The Supreme Court ruling has spiked strong opinions concerning the matter. Most people, other than a small margin of 25-34 year-olds, strongly oppose the ruling. Many also support protections for people and businesses that wish to discriminate against gays for situations like wedding photographers, bakeries, and counseling.

Many on both sides argue that a poll is meaningless. SSM supporters reiterate the great judiciary branch of government we have is what prevents the tyrannical rule of the majority and provides us with the unique blend of our democratic republic. Anti-gay groups say that a poll doesn't affect a child's "right" to have a mother and father.

It's not surprising that there is such a push against the ruling of such a controversial topic. Over time, the support will settle at a strong majority, even in Utah, as the integration and equality of contributing LGBT citizens becomes the norm.

Book of Mormon Musical in Utah

The Book of Mormon Musical is coming to SLC just a few blocks from Temple Square. Although the musical is critical of Mormon beliefs, and is considered to be explicit and profane, critics laud its humor, catchy tunes, and unprecedented portrayal of crisis-of-faith.

The LDS Church purchased ads in the playbill when the show opened in NY, hoping to intrigue watchers to learn "the real Mormonism". They also started the "I'm a Mormon" campaign to take advantage of the free publicity the musical created.

Tickets are already sold out for the Broadway performance. The irony of its visit in Utah has already done its job.

LDS Issues Strong Opposition to Gay BSA Leaders

It's official. And immediately. Gay men and women are allowed to participate in the BSA volunteer program if their charter chooses to select them. And despite a group's ability (also part of the new policy) to still deny it based on sexual orientation, the LDS Church cries foul and is going to re-examine its relationship with the program.

BSA knew it couldn't sustain the policy given the weather of the social changes concerning LGBT people. But the LDS church is still one of the largest associates of the program, and it's separation from it may lead to its decline.

There is already another program that started in protest to allowing gay boys in BSA called Trail Life USA, with about 25k members already. It wouldn't be surprising if Mormons create their own program, join Trail Life USA, or upgrade their "Duty to God" program to mimic BSA.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Same-Sex Couples To Foster Children

Same-sex couples on the foster waiting lists are getting calls to house children.

Since the SCOTUS ruling, several couples have additionally applied to foster children together... something that wasn't legal in Utah previously. Obviously, there is resistance from groups that believe only a mother and father should be eligible. But loving couples are eager to join the ranks of fostering.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Same-Sex Parents Can Adopt Like Opposite-Sex Parents in Utah UPDATED

A federal judge recently ruled that same-sex couples should be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex couples in Utah. Roe mothers Tami and Angie have been working through the difficult system of step parent adoption Utah has in place and have waited for months for the protection of both their names listed on their child's birth certificate.

Now all couples, male and female of any combination can adopt non-genetic children legally and have both parents' names on the birth certificate.

The state may challenge this ruling, but it is unlikely due to the legality of SSM in the SCOTUS ruling. Utah has already spent $1.2 million defending its failed Amendment 3 that banned same-sex marriage.


Utah has decided to not appeal the court ruling granting the Roes the right to have both mothers' names on their child's birth certificate. This solidifies the opportunity for all same-sex couples to be legal parents of any and all children of theirs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BSA to Lift Gay Adult Ban

Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a new policy that removes the organization-wide ban on openly gay adults as leaders. The move will go on to the board for ratification.

The LDS church is one of the biggest sponsors and partners with BSA, and stated that it has always had and expects the right to choose what leaders it believes are "moral" for the position, according to its religious expectations.

The move allows any approved charter to have parents and organizers select the leaders they deem appropriate for their groups. If a group votes to allow gay men and women as leaders, they are now allowed to do so. The LDS church is not expected to allow openly gay people into its unit, as the LDS church still considers homosexuality a "serious sin".

BSA in 2013 approved the admission of openly gay teens into scouting, but the LDS church handles such cases in its own way within its organization.

There are several cases where leaders have been expelled from the program due to information leaking to BSA that the leader was gay. Hopefully this move will pass and those who which to support the program, regardless of sexual orientation, are able to do so in groups where they are accepted as equals.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Idaho Constitution Still Contains Anti-Gay Language

Idaho, as well as 30 other states in the US, have language within their state constitutions that state that marriage is "only between a man and a woman". Although such law in unenforceable, there is debate as to whether to remove the language or not. SSM supporters say it is confusing and offensive to keep such wording on the books. Others say there is no reason to completely obliterate traditional marriage, even if gay marriage bans are in conflict with federal law.

Montana Polygamist Stands for Polygamy

In response to the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the US, a Montana man wishes to legally be married to his two wives. The first of his wives shares 7 children and is his legal partner. The second was only religiously wed to him.

Many feared and predicted this as a next-step in marriage re-definition. But others see it as a legitimate union and have no quarrel as to who wants to marry who, in of-age, consenting situations.

Nathan Collier says he was denied a second marriage license from the clerk's office, which stated it would seek advice concerning the matter. Collier plans to sue up to the US Supreme Court to legalize if not decriminalize bigamy.

Greatest LDS Opponent of LGBT, Apostle Boyd Packer, Dies

Boyd Packer, the eldest member of the 12 Mormon Apostles, and next in line for Church President, known as the "Prophet", died on July 3rd. It was reported that he died from complications of old age.

Packer has always been the largest vocal opponent to any progress in the LGBT community with respect the LDS Church. Here are a few quotes from the late apostle with added emphasis on anti-gay statements.

One of the most explicit anti-gay messages Packer had was in a Priesthood talk in 1976, later published (and still used) as a pamphlet called "To Young Men Only":

Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this. 
Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. 
It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord. 
There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done. 
After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.” 
“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief. 
“But I floored him,” he said. 
After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.” 
I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself. 
There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men—masculine, manly men—ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.
This vile and discriminatory talk outlines four hateful beliefs. (1) Homosexuality is forbidden perversion and of the devil. (2) It is more acceptable to resort to violence than to submit to homosexual acts. (3) God did not create homosexuals, and such tendencies can be overcome. (4) Males are to be masculine manly men, and there is no mistake as to a mismatch of physical and spiritual gender.

Another statement he made was in 1993 to the "All Church-Coordinating Council":
It is so easy to be turned about without realizing that it has happened to us. There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right. 
The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.

This talk is commonly known as the "three enemies of the church" talk, where the very fundamentals of the LDS Church are unraveled by the social progress of gay rights, women's rights, and questioning history and authority with intellectual and scholarly research.

In October of 2010, Packer stated in his General Conference Talk:
If we're not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that will legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God's laws and nature ... what good would a vote against the law of gravity do? ... 
Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father.
The church later edited the text of the latter paragraph of the talk to say:
Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.
Completely changing the tone and meaning of the statement. The first part also advocates that it is immoral to vote in laws that go against "God's Plan". Immorality is relative, and in no way should match the rules of any particular religion.

Many are relieved (inside and outside of the church) that the outdated opinions of this man didn't have a chance to rule the LDS Church in succession to Thomas Monson, current president. There are a few other LDS leaders that hold on to negative and destructive views regarding LGBT people, but the numbers are waning. Just like Spencer Kimball had to wait for several racist leaders to die to exclaim that the priesthood could then be given to black people, so will another LDS leader have to wait to exclaim similar changes for LGBT people.

Ordain Women Leader Kate Kelly Steps Down

For reasons not disclosed, Kate Kelly of the Ordain Women movement to protest equality and ordination of women in the LDS church, has decided to step down from leadership.
After two years of dedication, hard work, and passionate leadership, Kate Kelly has decided to move on from her leadership role with Ordain Women and has submitted her resignation from the executive board. 
Since January of 2013, Kate Kelly has been an integral part of the Ordain Women movement. She was the catalyst and has served as one of our most recognizable voices. She has given her time and energy to help make this movement possible. 
--OW Facebook page
Whether a new leader will be selected, or the group will continue it's protesting is not certain at this time.

Religious Freedom Conference at BYU

BYU held a conference on July 6 to address the issues of religious freedom as a reaction to the US Supreme Court Decision of June 26 that forced states to recognize all same-sex marriages, as well as perform them.

Gene Schaerr, the lawyer that defended Utah in the Amendment 3 Case, says that he does not regret his attack on SSM, and that this new SCOTUS decision creates "12 grenades" against religious freedom. Schaerr explained these "grenades" at the conference, and was also joined by Gov. Gary Herbert. Alexander Dushku, author of the LDS Church's friend-of-the-court message asking the SCOTUS to uphold state's rights in traditional marriage, also spoke of the future of religious freedom.

Schaerr encouraged anti-gay-marriage to continue back to the courts to reverse the decision. He believes the "forcing religion to accept" gay marriage chokes the rights of religious people. The decision is a can of worms and says that it threatens "churches' tax-exempt status, religious schools' housing policies, accreditation, government contracts and employment and churches' ability to have marriages recognized".

Herbert stated that he was happy with the nondiscrimination template that LDS leaders and LGBT supporters worked together to pass earlier this year, SB296. Although he says not all the aspects of the issues were addressed in the law, he is hesitant to make adjustments to it. He expects a few lawsuits, but is afraid it will topple the balance of the historical agreement. He understands the baker that doesn't want to cater for a same-sex marriage, but admits it's inappropriate to be able to say, "'I'm going to pick which sinner, in their perspective, I'm going to serve."

Dushku said there are two potential paths for religious liberty as a result of the decision. The first would follow similar results as the Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia decisions, which minimized religious freedom with respect to racism. Racists are not tolerated in most social situations. The other path is that of Roe vs. Wade, which said abortion is a woman's right. Although there is great religious opposition, pro-lifers held to their beliefs and stood their ground, still finding place in the public square to respectfully disagree. Both opinions exist and cannot be punished. This is the path that will keep religious freedom at the strength it currently has.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Episcopal Church has officially voted to allow same-sex couples to marry in the church by willing leaders, and include them in all sacred rites.

LDS Church Donates to SLC Pride Center

In an unprecedented move, the LDS church agreed to donate to the Utah Pride Center in SLC in order to help feed homeless and low income adolescents and youth. The Pride Center works with the Utah Food Bank, but the bank is unable to provide more than just a few breakfasts.

After the Bishop's Storehouse was approached by Kent Frogly, the Pride Center's board president, the LDS church graciously stepped in to help the cause. Many are pleased that despite major disagreements, both parties are able to work together for a positive cause.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LDS Church Addresses SSM to Members

The LDS Church issued a statement reiterating its support for traditional marriage following the June 26th ruling of the Supreme Court. Now the high leaders of the church will be sending announcements to each congregation for leaders to read and instructions for local leaders on how to move forward with the new law. Some important points will be as follows:

Same-sex marriages will not be performed by LDS leaders.

Same-sex marriage events, including receptions or otherwise, will not take place in LDS meetinghouses.

If members have concerns with the Church's policies on SSM, they should address it to their leaders. If leaders have concerns, they should contact their general authorities.

Although people have differences, everyone is welcome to attend LDS meetings and is expected to be treated with respect by church members, so long as they respect the LDS standards of conduct while there.

It is no surprise that the LDS church is making it publicly known that the laws of the land do not change the laws of "God". The church did participate in the new nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people in Utah. However, the stark opposition to same-sex marriage in the church will still perpetuate negative feelings and stigmas LDS members hold against LGBT people.

Monday, June 29, 2015

SSM Ruling Fallout

Associated Press/Religious liberty

The US is in a buzz with the confirmed interpretation of the Constitution by SCOTUS that marriage is equally protected for all legal and consenting adults, irrespective of gender. Conservatives bemoan the decline of the "sacred" nature of traditional marriage and the family, as well as the infringement of religious liberties and democracy, while liberals celebrate the social progress and victory towards a "more perfect union".

Within three weeks, assuming no challenge to the ruling, all states and counties in the US must issue licenses to same-sex couples, including the 14 states who still had bans on it. Many counties immediately issued licenses upon hearing the ruling, while others decided to withhold following the law until more instruction was provided. Others claimed technical difficulties to excuse providing the licenses.

Friday evening, hundreds of Utahns gathered at City Creek Park to rally in celebration of the ruling--excited to know that their country recognizes same-sex marriages as valid, protected unions. The Episcopal Church had several ministers at the rally willing to marry same-sex couples on the spot. Although many if not most Christian institutions are against same-sex marriages, others use religion as a reason to fight for marriage equality. Other such rallies were organized across the US.

In light of the Supreme Court decision, a group has organized a protesting a conference for the "World Congress of Families" in October. The family conference focuses on the "natural family", meaning it only recognizing a marriage between one man and one woman. The HRC announced that it would be holding a counter conference just before the family conference. They will decry the World Congress of Families as discriminatory and exclusive to the diversity of families. Families come in all shapes and sizes, they say, and Utah is not a place to discriminate against certain types of families. Inclusiveness and celebration of diversity will be the focus--in contrast to the World Congress.

In addition, Republican presidential seekers have switched their debate from same-sex marriage to religious freedom. Some politicians are seeking for judicial reform, where appointed judges must undergo democratic review, or be voted in altogether. Others wish to restrict the ability of judicial decisions to affect religious groups--specifically decisions on marriage. Laws across the nation have popped up in defense of traditional marriage. They seek to prevent the government from forcing religious institutions to marry same-sex couples or from performing other actions that go against their beliefs. Other laws, including one introduced by Mike Lee of Utah, seek to prevent government punishment to anyone who discriminates against same-sex married couples (essentially again legalizing discrimination based on religion).

Although the ruling resolves the national confusion of what is legal in terms of marriage, the debate continues, and the fight will escalate. LGBT activists are still pushing for national nondiscrimination in housing, business, and education concerning gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Conservatives will attempts to retaliate against the ruling by introducing more laws to protect religion and religious individuals (and even businesses operated by religious people), further reducing the equality and dignity for LGBT Americans.

Friday, June 26, 2015

US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of SSM, All 50 States!

In the Obergefell v Hodges case concerning the validity of state-wide bans on same-sex marriage, the US Supreme Court has ruled that such bans are unconstitutional. It was a 5-4 decision, with the same justices from the United States v. Windsor case supporting the ruling. The four dissenters, all conservatives, each wrote their own opinions, but agreed that the bans should be left up to the states. Justice Scalia stated that he feared the court's overreach would lead to the demise of democracy, and that the ruling had nothing to do with the Constitution. But the majority opinion agreed that under the 14th Amendment and Due Process, it was imperative that dignity be restored to loving same-sex couples to be equal in opportunities to express love and intimacy, as well as to be granted the protections that come along with marriage.

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, saying :

“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Utah. Sen. Mike Lee: We Want to Legally Criticize SSM

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Utah Senator Mike Lee has again introduced a bill to provide excuses for individuals, companies, and institutions to discriminate. The bill wasn't heard last year, just as all other bills in the same-sex marriage genre.

In essence, the law allow people to discriminate again based on their "deeply held religious beliefs" that same-sex marriages/unions/partners are sinful. This is a result of the bill preventing the government, state or federal, from penalizing anyone in the form of tax exemption removal, contract, license, or certification denial.

Although holding the beliefs that someone's marriage is bad and less valid than yours is a given right in the states, this law will perpetuate the thought that discriminating, whether intentional or not, is OK. Anyone who believes that same-sex marriage is evil is going to naturally discriminate against those who have one (or are gay, most likely).

The laws in place already protect religions from having to perform SSM. People are already protected from retribution for holding negative beliefs concerning SSM. Mr. Lee is going too far to slap Utah LGBT citizens in the face by saying, "Since we can't stop you from getting married, we're going to make sure we can legally criticize you as much as possible."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Delta, Utah Gay Man Terrorized : UPDATED

Rick Jones

Rick Jones, owner of pizzeria "Grand Central Station" in Delta, Utah, and his family, have been the victims of a string of terrorizing events. Assault, vandalism, slander, theft, and attempted arson are just a few of the crimes committed against Jones and his family. The events have been grossly under-reported by the media, as the anti-gay hate crimes are often taboo in small conservative towns like Delta.

Jones reported being knocked out near closing his restaurant and came to realizing his assailant attempting to force him to drink bleach. There was also cut into his arm, the words "Die Fag". The same words were graffiti-ed on his family's home garage, and yelled at him as a flaming cocktail was thrown through a window of the home. His pizzeria was burglarized, vandalized, and robbed the same day.

The Delta Sheriff's department has no leads but is intent on finding the perpetrators involved in these terrible hate crimes.


According to police reports, the hate crimes were allegedly staged by Jones as a "cry for help", as stated by attorneys. Although residents of Delta are relieved that there appears to be no one committing such crimes, it pains them that Jones was staging them. Whether the crimes were staged or not, Jones will likely need serious counseling. It would be a sad "crying wolf" situation for hate crimes against gay people, taking away serious consideration in cases where it might be true.

Friday, June 5, 2015

SLC Pride Weekend!

LGBT Pride

Come join us at the SLC Pride festival and parade! The festival is open Saturday and Sunday at Washington and Library squares. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Saturday 3-6pm is family time and more "PG".

The Parade starts at 10am Sunday and travels down 200 South westward from about 3rd East to about West Temple.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mormon Apostle Perry Dies; Questionably LGBT Friendly

Mr. Tom Perry, a Mormon Apostle, 92 and one of the eldest and most senior Mormon leaders, died this weekend from cancerous complications.

Perry was always seen as a positive smiley person on the Mormon Conference Center Pulpit. But his involvement in politics and LGBT related news makes him notable in a different way. He was involved in the SB296 bill that added anti discrimination in Utah's housing and employment. It was clear to many that he supported litigation that protected LGBT people as well as religious liberties. He was one of several that defined their support in such a manner.

Perry's positive reviews with gay people all but rusted away when his last Mormon General Conference talk in April warned listeners of "the dangers of alternative and counterfeit lifestyles", which many LGBT people took as an attack. Although talks are usually worded in a very general way to make the target they paint on themselves more blurry, Perry's son stated that the wording in the talk may have taken on "more meaning than he intended".

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mormons Building Bridges (MBB) has been denied participation in the "Days of '47" parade in SLC for the second year in a row. MBB is a group of believing and adhering Mormons that stick with church policy, yet promote the full inclusion of LGBT people in church activities. They also promote civil and positive discussions among Mormons concerning LGBT people. They do not take a stance on SSM, nor do they officially approve of actions that go against Mormon principles.

The parade is an annual recognition of Mormon pioneers for the state holiday "Pioneer Day." Because the parade organizers take their orders for the privately funded event from the Mormon contributors, they denied MBB participation on the grounds of "advocating", which is against parade policy.

MBB had a theme of "LGBT Pioneers of Utah", to express the inclusion of the LGBT residents of Utah and the major obstacles they have had to overcome to be included and recognized in the state. Since Utah now has legal same-sex marriages, and it recently passed an anti-discrimination law for the state protecting sexual preferences and gender identity in most housing and workplace situations, it was a disappointment to hear that the parade organizers are still hosting an event of exclusion, instead of inclusion. MBB has participated in the annual Gay Pride Parade for a couples years now, growing each year.

Ireland First Nation to Legalize SSM by Popular Vote

Ireland, by a landslide, voted "yes" on the legalization of same-sex marriages in the nation, making it the first to do so by popular vote. All political parties and nearly all government officials supported the yes vote, to the dismay of the once highly influential church there. It was a 62.1% win for same-sex marriages, nearly 2 out of three citizens. Although gay people are a minority in Ireland, if you include their family, friends, and associates, there is a clear majority of support.

With the bad reputation of the church, few follow its teachings let alone attend mass. The waning influence of the church is the most likely reason that it's stance against SSM did not prevail.

Friday, May 22, 2015

BSA Leader States Gay Leader Ban "Unsustainable"

In a recent national conference for BSA in Atlanta, BSA President Robert Gates told listeners that groups in NYC and other cities are starting to defy the ban, and that continuing to support the policy was "unsustainable". Given the national weather (and world weather) on gay rights and equality, BSA might see itself socially ousted if it doesn't match the progress. Currently, if a scout leader is discovered to be actively gay, he/she is immediately removed. Boys in the program can be openly gay, but discussion of it or acting on it within the program is forbidden.

Mr. Gates said that no policy changes would occur at the conference, but that it is likely for changes to be made that allow local groups to decide whether to permit or deny openly gay men as leaders.

The LDS Church has been one of the largest supporters and sustainers of BSA for decades. If the Mormons decide to withdraw from BSA as a result of unacceptable policy changes, BSA might find itself struggling to its end. But if the policy permits local groups to decide to keep the ban, the LDS church will certainly do so, probably estranging itself from other groups or camps that include units that reject the ban.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

India and Ireland: Social Advances for LGBT

In India, it is common for mothers to put ads in local papers for their sons to find a spouse to wed. But one Indian mother, with the help of her gay son, successfully posted an ad for a groom for him. The ad says it's looking for a "25-40, well-placed, animal loving, vegetarian groom... caste no bar, lyer preferred." The Mumbai tabloid was the first to accept the ad. The social buzz went viral for the progress in India that this story represents.

Some criticized the discrimination of caste being mentioned in the ad. The lyer caste is known to be more wealthy. Although the caste system is not as strict as in the past, it is still common-day in India. Harish, the man in the ad, says he does not discriminate caste or religion. He does discriminate against non-vegetarians, though.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 2009, only to be re-criminalized in 2013. But transgender citizens are now counted in the country with a transgender woman mayor newly elected this year. Many see this as huge steps for equality.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, lawmakers, politicians, and activists alike are pushing for the first country in the world to vote in legal same-sex marriage. The Netherlands was the first to legalize SSM, but only from the legislature. Ads, flyers, and huge signs are all over Dublin urging voters to vote "Yes" for same-sex marriage. The church has long played the conservative role, over-reaching, some say, into the law. Although many in the church oppose SSM, the secular government wishes to turn the gay marriage ban on its head this year.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

World Congress of Families: For and Against

The World Congress of Families purports to be a "pro-family" institution, and only claims the "natural family", or that of a male and a female being married and the biological parents of all of their children, the be the best and legitimate family unit for society.

This October, the institution will be holding its annual conference in Salt Lake City. Several religions are participating, local, and worldwide. The LDS church will have significant contributions to the speaking and hosting of the event. Sheri Dew and one LDS church leader are expected to speak.

Mayor Ralph Becker of SLC stated that although it is his responsibility to protect free speech and rights to assembly, he does not believe the conference's message reflects Salt Lake City's values. He hopes that those in the conference can learn from SLC's commitment to "inclusion, acceptance, and equality for all".

The irony of the conference is that it comes to SLC following the most heated debates concerning same-sex marriage. SLC was the first in Utah to put in nondiscrimination policies for sexual preference and gender identity. Utah was the first state to bring SSM to the US Supreme Court. Utah now issues same-sex marriage licenses. Utah's anti-gay laws and predominantly Mormon culture accelerated the process of equality, much to the church's and its members' dismay. The conference representatives says all registered attendees are welcome, even if the conference does not approve of same-sex couples. They hope for "respectful civil discourse" concerning any differences.

A newly organized coalition, "All Families Coalition", is supported by Restore Our Humanity, Equality Utah, Atheists of Utah, and Mormons Building Bridges. The coalition celebrates diversity in families. It says people like those in this conference like to ignore problems like poverty, violence, and drugs in order to blame things like same-sex marriage, divorce, and female reproductive rights on the "decline of the family".

Monday, May 11, 2015

Equality Utah Celebration in St. George

Every year, Equality Utah puts on a celebration dinner and fundraiser for the southern part of the state. The tradition began years ago in Kayenta, a beautiful community hidden in the renowned red rocks of St. George. As the attendance grew, organizers were forced to find a larger venue, and so started doing the event at the Dixie center.

This year, as part of the success of equality in Utah, event planners decided to return the celebration to Kayenta anyway, hoping to remind everyone how it all started and to take advantage of the beautiful landscape southern Utah has to offer. Although rain put off some of the event in the early evening, the skies eventually cleared for another epic fundraiser in the name of equality for LGBT Utahns.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Opinion: Traditional Marriage Defenders

I need to take a post to express some feelings. I know only a small group looks at my posts, and I'm grateful to those who do. But writing here allows me to express myself, like in a journal, to myself.

What baffles me is how adamant traditional marriage defenders rally so regularly, so insistently, and so vehemently to express their views on a subset of "sinners", where there are so many other "sinners" that they pass by and don't bat an eye. Why all of a sudden is there an outrage when this one, new concept--same-sex marriage--pops up in US law?

OK, I take that back. Civil Rights and inter-racial marriage have almost identical images of religious protesters like the one above. Both those religious wars lost. I think this one will, too.

I know that marriage is a very important ritual in religion (having been a Mormon in my past), but it is also a very important aspect of secular life. Marriage may have ties to legally binding a man to protect and provide for a wife and children (when women/children couldn't work or own land). But that culture is long gone. In secular society today, divorce is always an option, women (and men) can provide for children without a partner, and marriage is no longer a requirement or expectation for anyone. Although religions (Mormons especially) woe over these "destructions to the family", society seems to think it's all fine--mainly because the world hasn't destroyed itself as a result of its "decline".

Marriage has become a government benefit and protection for the family as a whole. Power of attorney, inheritances, parental guardianship, medical benefits, tax exemptions... these are all extremely valuable protections for a family. Religions can define what a family is for their own members. But individuals can define for themselves who their family is. Years ago same-sex couples decided to have families (including children) without government or societal approval. Now that same-sex couples have suffered from the lack of protections (that many heterosexual couples take for granted), gays have stood up to be equally protected.

There are stories of people tearing apart same-sex couples lives simply because legally... they can. Shane Crone was devastated at a fatal accident involving his fiance, Tom Bridegroom. When funeral services were prepared, Tom's family threatened Shane to not show up at the funeral. The funeral service had no mention of Shane or any reference to Tom's life as a gay man.

Several couples--many of which are involved in the dozens of SSM lawsuits in the US--have children where one partner is a biological parent of the child, and the other wishes to adopt the child, putting both parents' names on the birth certificate. Currently, most state laws make it extremely difficult or even impossible for this to happen.

One plaintiff couple in Kentucky had a story along these lines. A mother took her son to the hospital for a coughing fit. The hospital had to call the mother's partner (the boy's biological mother) to get permission to treat the child. Since the mother in the hospital is unable to officially be the boy's mother, she could lose her son if the biological mother is unavailable, sick, or dies.

These are just two of thousands of real examples where law that only permits traditional marriage harms families. People who blindly support anti-gay laws love to rally under the banner of "God" and "morality", hoping that their fight will win them points in heaven and that they will be seen as brave for "standing for what is right".

But right is relative. Especially when it comes to religion vs. society, or even religion vs. religion. If religion became the primary factor for governing the US, we're going to need another America to escape to. I don't believe it's right for religion to indoctrinate its members with lies, to leech off society, and to put down others that don't meet its ridiculous requirements. But our government protects religion and allows people to "worship" (or not) as they please. But nowhere is it protected for religious people to impose standards and beliefs into others' lives via law, especially when the main reason to do so is "God". If that were legitimate, divorce, fornication, and adultery would be illegal--and in Utah, smoking and drinking as well. But God doesn't hold any water in law. Because who's to say the Mormon God is the real God? Or the Jewish God? Or the Islamic God? Or an atheist's source of decision making (him/herself)?

It makes me absolutely mad to hear that only a man-woman relationship is healthy or good for the upbringing of children. First, let's get out of the way that children of divorced, widowed, or otherwise singled parents can still turn out just fine--not to mention it is legal and common for all of those things to happen. Second, gay men exhibit both male and female and attributes. Same as gay women. Children won't be missing out on the "unique gender-specific" tendencies of either gender. If it's all about having a penis and a vagina, why don't they just come out and say that? Yes, biologically, you need sperm and a uterus. But again, surrogacy, adoption, and artificial insemination are all socially acceptable methods for putting children into families. Why is it all of a sudden bad to put them into a same-sex couple's lives?

Also, there are plenty of sterile couples or mothers that miscarriage all the time. If marriage was about natural procreation, should these marriages be cancelled? Of course not. It's not about just the children. Marriage is still a way to been seen by the world as a committed, loving couple that the government protects in situations such as death, illness, or child-rearing.

So why do traditional marriage advocates still hate on the gays? They want to feel empowered. They want to feel like they are fighting for a noble cause. They want an enemy to fight in the name of "God". They want to keep their privileges and rights (that the take for granted) to themselves. They want to be seen as superior and model families. They want special treatment.

This is in no way every religious person, nor heterosexual person in a man-woman relationship. Most people get it. Most people don't care if you're gay, married, and have children with your same-sex partner. But the religious zealots that incessantly fight against equality in the name of "God" are what drive me nucking futs.

Again, I know I'm either preaching to the choir or talking to deaf ears if you're reading this. But this is mainly for me. Although... it would be great to know that I encouraged a friend to fight for equality, or discouraged another from fighting against it.