Friday, January 24, 2014

Mixed message on the bathroom wall

"We don't outlaw anything and don't nab anyone," Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week regarding his countries strict laws against teaching children about homosexuals.
"That's why you can feel safe and free here: but please leave our children in peace," he added.
Russia has come under intense international pressure since its parliament passed a law last summer outlawing what it referred to as "gay propaganda." The countries new legislation makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality, or homosexuals -- for that matter.
The law has been criticized by Western leaders who have called it archaic, backwards, and discriminatory. Human rights activists say it suggests that Russia is able to spend millions on infrastructure but cant buy a clue with human rights, or even pretending to have them for the several weeks in February for the latest Winter Olympics.
Mixed message on the bathroom wall
 in Sochi, Russia
Putin's meeting with the Olympic volunteers came a day after he told foreign ambassadors in Moscow that the event would be held "without any discrimination" against athletes and visitors.
"The games will be held in complete compliance with the Olympic Charter, without any discrimination on the basis of any characteristic," Putin said Thursday, according to state media.
The International Olympic Charter clearly states that: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging.
Dang.  'Cause a good lynching of a guy in tight pants, sequins and feathers would have made for some mighty fine Olympic prime time TV.

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?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fundamental blessings and the gay man

"In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate."

"We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us."

"We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors."
"Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these — the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation — to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know."
"This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform."

"...I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is even now something of ill omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country — the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts, and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny."

Abraham Lincoln
Speech given at the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Utah politicians fight same-sex marriage

A federal judge in Utah has ordered the state to permit same-sex marriages.  This decision seems to be transforming the local gay-rights stage into a grand showing on a national civil rights stage -- and frankly, I am happy to have the battle happen in my adopted home state.

Is marriage a civil right, Mormons ask?

Utah officials, including Governor Gary Herbert, asked US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to put a temporarily stay on the federal judge’s decision made on December 20th of 2013 -- a ruling that requires the state of Utah to permit same-sex marriages as per constitutional law despite a state constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage.
Justice Sotomayor responded by saying no, and requesting more information from legal representatives of several gay couples who have been challenging the initial Utah state ban. Those briefs are due in court on Friday, Jan 3rd.

Meanwhile -- back at the farm --  more than 900 same-sex couples have taken advantage of the judge’s ruling and have obtain marriage licenses in Utah.

The Christian Science Monitor states: "The immediate question is whether the judge’s same-sex marriage order should be stayed pending further appeals, the underlying issues will require Sotomayor – and perhaps the entire high court – to address the single most significant question in the legal debate over gay marriage. The question is whether same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the US Constitution."

Once again, the national question is not whether the public agrees with homosexuals or homosexuality, or even the right to be homosexual.  What is being decided is whether marriage is a civil right as defined by the constitution.