Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Is it a right to marry?

I started writing this several months ago and thought better of it.  I am not one to fight "against" something as opposed to being "for" something. And I am a card carrying member of the LDS church and I am proud to say that. However, I am now rethinking my rethinking of this post. I will allow you to judge it for yourself. Please comment if you have something to say.

Two weeks ago, on November 4, several Mormons of the US Senate voted for the passing of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) protecting homosexuals in the work environment.
A week later, several local stakes of the LDS church in Oahu Hawaii were read instructions in their weekly Sunday meetings in regard to how to go about taking action against local legislation that would secure civil marriage rights for homosexuals in the state.
Mormons received what is considered a revelation from God concerning sexuality in the form of the "Proclamation of the Family".  Let me be specific: I consider the Proclamation on the family to be a revelation.  With that in mind, I have made the following correlation:

Mormons believe that is is NOT okay to discriminate against celibate gays, but it IS okay to discriminate against gay people that are sexually active?

I have watched the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- my church -- in our dealing with people who are different.  Gays would be considered different, a minority, a segment of the population of Mormons and non Mormons alike, though I believer that the percentage of Mormon gays in higher than outside of the church.

Felons would be considered another minority. So would smokers, or black people.  The French. Pepsi drinkers. People still sporting a Dorthy Hamel hair-doo. 

Aside from a natural curiosity, an "I-am-staring-at-you-because-you-are-different-from-what-I-am-used-to" sort of a thing, my experience of us Mormons is that we are more accepting of those who are different -- as long as they are sitting on a pew (read: trying to follow the Mormon way of life). 

Homosexuality is not the numeric norm.  But if a gay man came to priesthood meeting, his nice shoes really wouldn't stand out from the well-worn, black Stacy Adams utilitarian dress shoes the married R.M. next to him is wearing.  If his suit is well fitting and there is a little product in his hair, he can still sit by the man with a bit of dried baby formula on his tie.  He might even be asked to hold the baby while daddy searches the diaper-bag for wipes.

If he pickets general conference however, he won't be invited over for family-home evening. 

So, how do we Mormons treat sinners?  You know -- the people who are doing the things that we believe should not be done, like cheating on taxes or mowing the lawn on Sunday;  Shoplifting or having a democrat corrugated plastic signage on the front lawn.

What would we do with a gay couple in sacrament meeting?  

Often, when I see that we Mormons have politically mobilized to fight gay marriage rights, its because we believe that granting those rights will someday mean that our own religious freedoms are at stake.  Granting the right, or acknowledging that gay men have the right to marry -- depending on your belief -- will threaten LDS marriage and temple practices.  Many of us believe that he next logical step, after gays have the rights to marry, is that the LGBT community will demand the right to marry in LDS temples.  

Religious freedom -vs- civil rights?

I have seen supporters of LGBT marriage rights actually roll their eyes when the religious freedom card is played by Mormons -- me.  They tell me that losing religious freedom couldn't happen.  Then I open a history book and get a differing point of view.

Polygamy, anyone? 

The problem with bring up the anti-polygamy crusades by the United States government in the late 1800's is that Mormons have to admit that we believed, abit for a short time, that polygamy was appropriate for that time -- a belief we put much energy into distancing ourselves from. The U.S. government targeted Mormon polygamy and a short time later the practice was effectively eliminated from the body of the LDS church.  Could government action affect such a change again? 

Okay, so it probably wouldn't happen.

Are Mormon willing to take the risk that allowing marriage rights for all those pursuing happiness will also allow for government to affect their religious belief in celestial marriage that is only achieved in a temple by people following the law of chastity?

At the moment, no. However beliefs (not standards or morals) are changing at lighting speed. All this brings me to the following question:  Whether or not we agree with the morality of the practice, does anyone have the right to deny consenting adults the right to marry?


  1. To be fair, the original proposal in Hawaii was poorly worded so that if non-members could participate in activities in a church facility and marriages could be held there, those facilities had to be made available to host same gender marriages. So while it wouldn't have affected temples, other church buildings were at risk. Since non-members were welcome to activities in church meetinghouses, the church could be taken to court if it didn't allow a gay couple to be married there. Largely through the efforts of members, the wording was changed to be much more protective of religious freedom.

    Anyone who believes that there are no sue-happy people who would try to use a poorly worded law to attack the church needs to open their eyes to reality. I doubt that the temple ordinances are at as much risk. If needed, the church could always move to the model used in England where marriages occur outside of the temple and then the sealing performed in the temple immediately afterwords.

  2. Many people feel that model should be used everywhere. I can see how this would really set the temple ceremony apart.

  3. No, they do not, in my opinion. I enjoyed your reasoned argument. Thank you.

    One thing to add however. The church's statement to Hawaii congregations was not exactly how you explained it to be. Instead of a Prop 8 styled letter, encouraging members to work against gay marriage, the church had a different approach this time.

    In Hawaii, the official church position was stated, but then they encouraged member to pray and decide for themselves how to vote. But, they encouraged a religious amendment (much like in New York's gay marriage bill) to exempt churches from future pressure to perform such marriages.

    I like this position much better from the church.

  4. Actually, in Hawaii, the official church statement from Salt Lake did indeed state the church's stand and asked members to vote their conscience, but strongly encouraged them to protect religious freedom. But the stake leaders in Hawaii came out with a much stronger statement that was specifically against same gender marriage. There, of course, was no vote in Hawaii, because this was not on a public ballot, but was a special session of the state legislature, and passage was a forgone conclusion.