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.