Bridging the Divide – A Shot at Redemption for All

Statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

SALT LAKE CITY 26 May 2009

Today’s decision by the California Supreme Court is welcome. The issue the court decided was whether California citizens validly exercised their right to amend their own constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court has overwhelmingly affirmed their action.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognizes the deeply held feelings on both sides, but strongly affirms its belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.

Accordingly, the Church stands firmly for what it believes is right for the health and well-being of society as a whole. In doing so, it once again affirms that all of us are children of God, and all deserve to be treated with respect. The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.

So above is the Official church statement concerning the California Supreme Court ruling regarding the legality of Prop 8. Let’s review and move on from there.

First off, the line that gets me (and shows me that there might be hope if worded and approached right) is this line “The bedrock institution of marriage between a man and a woman has profound implications for our society. These implications range from what our children are taught in schools to individual and collective freedom of religious expression and practice.”From this line it is clear that one of the church’s large fears is the oppression of religion by becoming labeled as bigots and the oppression of the church as a hate group for speaking their views (which I believe they are entitled to have and speak). It shows that they also fear the implications of public education concerning homosexuality and in today’s world where parents are suing schools over a Harvey Milk presentation (I honestly think that this is about as retarded as the woman who sued Winnebago for not stating that when on cruise control you had to remain in the seat, but that is another matter entirely), they are right to be scared, as am I.

I can completely agree with the issue in schools and think that, for now, any legislation put forth concerning the legalization of Gay marriage needs to explicitly prohibit the planned teaching of homosexuality without parents consent. Let’s face it there are times when the teacher has to buckle down and answer a pestering child’s question that shouldn’t be included. This should be in place throughout elementary school and maybe into middle school, but lifted by High School where we are (supposedly) teaching students how to think critically and challenge the facts that they are being taught.

I also think that express religious considerations should be put in place just like Gov. Lynch put forth in the New Hampshire legislature. Religious protections already guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution BTW. Granted would this change the Church’s political position regarding legislative movements, but it would 1. Force them to come out into the open and state, “We think homosexuality is wrong and we are going to legislate religion,” and 2. it would provide us with many supporters who are swayed by the misinformation regarding these campaigns (see Gathering Storm for further proof of outlandish claims).

The one line that I love in this Press Release is “The Church believes that serious discussion of these issues is not helped when extreme elements on both sides of the debate demonize the other.” This is wonderful for two reasons. The first, because I think it is insanely wrong to demonize the other side. After-all, if we look at them objectively we can recognize their fears and faults within ourselves and, although a lesser degree, we cannot hate them for their stance that they believe is right, if we do then we run the risk of losing our ground that our stance, the we believe, is right. Second and most important is, “serious discussion of these issues.” This Press Release shows that they are willing to have a serious discussion, a discussion in which each side is treated with respect and dignity, a serious discussion whose goal is to come to at least a mutual understanding and become educated regarding each other, and at best a legitimate compromise that both parties can live with.

This gives me hope and I call upon the Church Leadership to offer to have some sort of conference or seminar or workshop of some sort that is either open to the public and accessible for an internet audience, or to invite leadership of several differing levels of MoHo groups that could come and listen to the Church’s view, in detail regarding homosexuality. A seminar where we would mostly listen and ask questions sparingly. This same model should be utilized by a coalition of MoHo groups to invite church leadership to where we can express our views, our beliefs, our interpretations and translations of scripture. A conference where the Church Leadership from local bishops to President Monson are invited to attend and listen and help us understand. A conference meant to bridge the divide between us so that, while we might not be one group, at least there is some connection, some understanding between the groups so that so many no longer feel like they need to hang a millstone around their necks rather than struggle with inconsistent understanding of how the gospel applies to them and how they can be both Gay and a loved Child of God.

I do not know who should take the first step and if there were more organization between MoHo groups I would suggest that we make the first move and hold a conference first, but I feel as if, because we are disorganized for now, (Scott how is that website coming :p) because, let’s face it, it takes a lot to get them to come down from their mountain, as Affirmation knows all too well. But because I feel we need to make the first step I suggest that we draft a form letter (Alan, perhaps you could check it for neutrality) that we all send to the First Presidency, a letter intended to ask for such a conference here in Salt lake to be hosted by them, a letter that states our desire to have a “serious discussion of these issues” without gall or bitterness. If we were to send these to the First Presidency, our local leaders, our friends and perhaps family members in leadership positions, the news (both local and national), and is we continue to come out and educate the members around us then perhaps they will grant us an audience.

I can’t help but feel as if this is one of the purposes and uses for the blog network that we have. I feel that with all of our connections to Affirmation, Northstar, Sunstone, The Gay Escape, MorMenLikeMe, Family Fellowship, GYLA, LDS Reconciliation, LDS Reasources, and individual high profile MoHo’s (to some degree) we have a chance at bringing our side together into an active coalition seeking more information, more light, more knowledge more truth. I also believe that with our connections to high profile LDS leaders with just 2 or 3 steps removed at maximum that we will be able to get the word out. I feel as if this is something that we need to do, if not for marriage equality then at least to help bridge the divide and save lives.

P.S Because my connections are small and I have a relatively smaller readership, feel free to re-post this or link to it on your blog or website (Scott? Abelard?Clark?… Anyone?). I really think this is something we should do and I hope you guys agree. Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions about logistics or said form letter.

P.P.S. If this is all naive ramblings of someone who “high” from his first protest then please also feel free to ignore this post, BTW the rally was great but shouting “separate church and state” near the Church Office Building and temple square felt… idk, wrong? Does that make any sense?