Archive for the 'Editors’ Choice' Category

Nov 12 2008

Captain Moroni, Zion – The scriptures need changing now…

Maybe they should be altered to read…

“Greater love hath no men than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”…unless they are gay

“We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;”…unless they are gay.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”…unless they are gay.

“We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”….unless they are gay.

“Love your enemies”…unless they are gay.

“… rejoice , because your names are written in heaven”…unless you are gay.

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men”…unless they are gay.

“Men are, that they might have joy”….unless they are gay.

“Bless them that curse you”…unless they are gay.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self”…unless they are gay.

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Nov 10 2008

Lea Christensen-Martin, Grand Blanc, MI – letter

Fifteen years ago I had a brother. He was funny, creative, talented, intelligent and handsome. But he was suffering. He never shared with his family the fact that he was homosexual and had AIDS. He suffered in silence because we were Mormon. He would come home to visit sometimes when he was sick. He told us he had Epstein-Barr disease. My mother took care of him. He needed our support, but was afraid if he revealed his secret, he would be shunned.

One evening fifteen years ago my brother swallowed an overdose of prescription medication, put a plastic bag over his head and duct taped it to his neck. Then he lay down on his bed to wait for oblivion. He was thirty-three years old. He left a note in which he explained how he could not longer bear the burden of guilt and sickness he was carrying. He told us he was sorry about the anguish his death would cause us, but that since the end was inevitable for him anyway, he chose to take his life now rather than to prolong his suffering.

I understand that the Mormon Church considers homosexuality to be immoral. Allowing same sex couples to have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples would be an act of complicity in that immorality. (In their view) Mormons might argue that if our government grants immoral homosexuals the same rights to marriage as righteous heterosexuals, then we are ripening in iniquity and becoming ready for destruction as a nation. This may explain the political involvement we see from so many Mormons in the passage of proposition 8.

Then, I think of my brother. His life, and the lives of so many others like him, could have been so much happier and full of love and acceptance if that homophobic bigotry did not exist in the church. How can unconditional love make our country worse? Which sin is worse, excluding a section of the population from social acceptance and civil rights, or having a sexual preference that differs from what a certain group considers normal? It is bigotry. Mormons consider other practices to be immoral as well, but they do not try to pass laws prohibiting pre-marital sex between consenting heterosexual adults, for example.

Mormons, get your noses out of other people’s bedrooms, and start practicing some of that Christ-like love you preach about so much. Two people no matter what race, religion, or sex, who want to make a life-long commitment to their partner, will benefit us as a society. They should have the civil right to do so.

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Oct 28 2008

Alan Bahr, Lafayette, CA – Does God Will Intolerance?

In 1958 when my in-laws, Esther and Evan, decided to get married, they couldn’t—not where they lived in Utah. Though they had both served as missionaries for the church and were therefore deemed worthy to act as God’s ambassadors, they were prohibited from marrying each other in the temple they loved. Neither could they get married civilly by state authorities. Utah, at the time, enforced anti-miscegenation laws that prohibited Evan, a white man, from marrying Esther, an Asian-American woman. So contrary to the admonition of church leaders, they crossed into Colorado to exchange vows. Despite that inauspicious start, their marriage has been an example of tireless devotion to God and church. As husband and wife, they completed two more missions together and Evan, for his part, has been a branch president, district president, stake president, regional representative and mission president.

What was so wrong about them getting married anyway?

Once, I asked a general authority that question and he replied, “Nothing.” Then he spoke of the historical context behind Utah’s ban on race-mixing—a stance that was part of church policy even as the first pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley and began to establish a secular government. They were a people, he said, who were influenced by the bitterness of the civil war and we shouldn’t judge them too harshly for what may seem like bigoted notions today. Though he didn’t say as much, the implication was clear: Church members, at the time, were incapable of rising above personal prejudices to live as Jesus would have them.

As a devout Christian, I have to believe with every fiber of my being, that it isn’t God’s will, but the intolerance of individuals that keeps the church from understanding and living a higher, more inclusive, truth about love and marriage. I have to believe this, because to accept the alternative would be intolerable for me.

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Oct 15 2008

Carol Oldham, Hacienda Heights, CA – Proposition 8

Dear Leaders,

I believe in “long suffering” and faith. During my 66 years in the church I have exercised those virtues. During the time Black people were denied privileges, and interracial marriage was considered “not normal” I secretly mourned. Today I wear black to church, wear my rainbow colored ribbon,* and mourn openly. It is not a show. My tears make it real. I still have another secret mourning that is unspeakable because I value my temple marriage and my membership in the church.

Do you remember how much your teacher loved you in kindergarten? How when you went on walks together she wanted you all to be safe and enjoy the trip, so she put you together as partners. You all took your turn to drink the pure, clear water at the same drinking fountain. That’s what marriage is. My husband and I have been married for 40 years, and we walk together as partners who look out for each other, and drink from the fountain of marriage. If we support Proposition 8 we keep some from drinking from that fountain. They walk alone without choice and the support and benefits of society. Theirs is a second-class, separate kind of partnership that is not marriage. Your teacher would tell you to make room on the rug so everyone can learn together. The only children that would have to leave the rug would be those who hurt others.

My faith is that Christ’s teachings will be fulfilled and one day all his children will be one in His gospel of love and kindness.

Sincerely,
Carol Oldham

*When someone asks about my ribbon I hand them a card in hopes that I might be a safe haven for those who are gay:
“If you are gay I want you to know I love you.
I will never deride you in public or private.
It is my belief that you art part of a blessed group
who have the capacity to act as “angels amongst us”
offering beauty and kindness
as a salve for what is lacking in the world.
Thank you for being you.”

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Oct 13 2008

Mara Stewart, Honolulu, Hawaii – Our family is not forever anymore

To the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve:

Gentlemen, my parents are converts to the LDS Church. I was raised in the Church. I was baptized, confirmed, went on mini-missions as a teenager, attended Seminary. I was a good daughter.

When I came out as a lesbian to my parents, my mother was loving and accepting. I was afraid that she would disown me. My father was less than happy, but accepting of the daughter he raised all the same. Despite Church doctrine that says I am a sinner and unworthy because of my sexual orientation, they loved me and I loved them. Our family remained strong and united in the face of adversity.

With the First Presidency’s declaration that Church members must support Propositions 8 in California and 102 in Arizona, that changed. My parents support the Church’s efforts to influence civil law out of fear, not out of love. They support Church efforts to declare their daughter a lesser citizen. That support has ruined our relationship. It has ruined my parents’ relationship with my straight, married sister, who does not believe that Church doctrine should dictate civil law. Our family has been shattered by this.

The Church’s political war against gays and lesbians is not right. It is not just. It is not loving. It is not Christlike. It is hateful, mean, small, and base. The civil right of gays and lesbians to marry according to the laws of their state in no way affects Church doctrine on homosexuality or marriage. The First Amendment guarantees Church immunity from performing same-sex marriages. Temple marriages will not be threatened. The Church loses nothing.

Instead, families are threatened. Families lose. Our family, so important to my father and mother, is falling apart because of this. They are more afraid of the First Presidency than they are willing to support civil rights for all their children. This is wrong. This is in direct opposition to the precepts laid out in D&C 134.

The LDS Church is ripping its own families apart over a war it should never have waged to begin with. Gentlemen, I urge you to leave the government of the citizenry to the civil government. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Perform and strengthen your own Temple marriages according to Church doctrine and the dictates of your own conscience. Do not try to dictate to the conscience of other men.

Above all, do not rip my family apart in this way. My parents’ decision to support your political campaign is because they believe that you are infallibly correct. In this, you are not. Please, remember the doctrine laid forth at Kirtland, Ohio in 1835. Remove Church support from this civil action.

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Oct 11 2008

DeAnn Morris, Tujunga, California – The Equal Rights Amendment in the 70s; Prop 8 here in California in 2008. What is next?

Here we go again:

In the 70s, I was saddened by the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, the ERA, which stated simply that Equal Rights under the law could not be denied based on gender. Something like that.

The Mormon Church was instrumental in getting that Amendment defeated. The idea of Equal Rights for all is so benign, so gentle, so respectful of the dignity of all human beings. How could the
Church possibly have believed otherwise?

I married my partner Jan on August 28 at the Beverly Hills Court House. We have been together for fourteen years. We now have FULL AND COMPLETE protection under the law for our partnership: rights to inherit, rights to visit one another in the hospital. A long list.

The ads for Prop 8 are lying when they say that we had full civil rights under our Domestic Partnership. That is just simply not true.

NOT TRUE.

AN OUTRIGHT LIE.

I grew up in the state of Utah and as a member of the Church. I remember thinking as a child: why do the boys only get to pass the sacrament?

So, you see, at a very young age, I noticed that women in the Church are second class citizens.

At a very young age, I considered certain things I was learning to be irrational. How is God going to sort out all the families in the afterlife? I mean, who is really going to be living with whom? Do we live with our birth families or with our marriage families?

Just as those things are irrational, in my opinion, so is the Church’s support of Prop 8. It does seem quite irrational to be against marriage between two loving members of the same sex and to have a belief in polygamy in the afterlife.

And it almost goes without saying (but I shall say it anyway) that the Church’s involvement in politics is really pushing the envelope when it comes to the separation of Church and State.

I was married for ten years. Out of that marriage came a lovely, gentle, bright, gifted Lesbian daughter. How her love for her partner threatens anything or anyone is beyond my comprehension.

As I mentioned earlier, I am in a committed same-sex relationship myself.
Jan and I are gentle, thoughtful, loving people. We are responsible: we pay our bills; we vote; we are good to our neighbors.

And here’s the thing really: we are both retired high school teachers. Do you know that neither of us ever considered trying to “recruit” any of our students?

Do you think, by the way, that a gay person would actually choose to be gay when you think about all the disadvantages?

I find your support of Prop 8 lacking in Christian charity, grace and love.

DeAnn Morris

No responses yet

Oct 10 2008

Natalie Kelly, Philadelphia – To the leaders of Yes on 8:

To the men and women who are leading California’s Yes on 8 Campaign:

I do not live in California, and so will not vote on Proposition 8. However, my concern for the issue, my deep love of the LDS Church, and the serious consequences of this campaign for my gay brothers and sisters in the Gospel compels me to write this message. I am firmly against the Proposition, and ask only that you realize the potential pain you are inflicting on individuals.

You may see some higher cause in your actions… but is the end worth the means? Is the protection of your personal definition of marriage worth the depression, trauma, loneliness, deprivation, and ostracization of so many others?

I am pained that members of my church are behind this. My church, which proclaims ” that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul” (D&C 134:14), and that “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege” (Article of Faith, 11). My church, which suffered so poignantly for its own right to define marriage according to its beliefs and conscience. My church, which has always taught me that family is the most important thing on earth, and that we should love our fellow men at all times.

Please, consider the devastating consequences of your actions. They affect real people, with real families. Who can blame them for feeling hated and friendless in a society such as the one you wish to foster?

Sincerely,
Natalie Kelly

No responses yet

Sep 27 2008

Amy Cox, Payson, Utah – The Church’s Stance Mocks Our Belief In Free Agency

Several years ago, I became certified in an alternative Christ-centered emotional release therapy, and have since that time been given the opportunity to spent hundreds of hours inside the minds and hearts of many LDS members. Some time ago, I had a woman seek out my help, as she had actually been turned away by her LDS counselor because she was gay, and they had been unsuccessful in making any lasting progress to help her overcome her “same sex attraction”. I agreed to help, and as is usual in my work, I went into it with an open mind and no judgment. I will forever be grateful for what this good woman taught me as she shared her pain and struggles. This faithful member of the Church has served a mission and tried to do all that she can to follow the counsel of her priesthood leaders. As I listened to her relate her experiences with these leaders, for which she was faithfully looking to for spiritual guidance, I became absolutely appalled at the abusive treatment that she was receiving in the name of God’s love. Their repeated promises given by the power of the priesthood, that if she would just prove faithful enough and abstain from acting on any of her natural inclinations, she would be blessed to overcome this “trial of her faith” and be able to marry a man and raise a family, have not been fulfilled. As a result of this priesthood counsel which follows the teachings of the Church, her psyche has been severely damaged, and she has become more and more depressed with each failed effort. She was led to believe that what she was doing was not accepted as enough, that God’s love was conditional and He was withholding blessing her with her righteous desires because of her unworthiness. She trusted and believed, but even when she transgressed with something not related to her sexual orientation, and common to many members which I know for a fact still maintain a recommend, hers was denied and threats were given of further discipline. She has been threatened with excommunication if she so much as even speaks to a woman she once was in love with and was literally ripped away from without having any opportunity to end the relationship in a way that would give her closure—even being forced by her LDS friends and family to get rid of or burn any possessions or gifts related to that “sinful” relationship. This woman to my knowledge is still clinging to the Church and trying to remain faithful to its teachings, even though it assures her a life of despair.

Needing to gain more wisdom and understanding, and realizing that there was no enlightenment found within the Church on this matter to my view, I began to research. I read the findings of reputable, well educated and experienced psychologists, and began to immerse myself in listening to the personal stories and experiences of those who were gay and mistreated because of the ignorance and bigotry of those around them. Unfortunately, this sort of judgment is perpetuated by the Church in many ways including the leadership’s decision to take an active political stand in supporting Proposition 8. Our gay brothers and sisters should have the freedom to find happiness in their lives, and I do not believe in a God who would condemn them to a life of misery and expect them to live with no hope of having the kind of fulfilling intimate love they may desire and are unable to have in any way other than accepting who they are. Nor do I believe in a God who would dole out punishment by taking away their basic rights and privileges, including marriage if they so choose. At one time this Church actually taught that our brothers and sisters with darker skin were cursed and had been less valiant in the pre-existence. The teachings even went so far as the prophet Brigham Young stating that those who would mix seed with these people should be killed. It was also taught in the scriptures that their skins would become “white and delightsome” when they turned from their sinful ways, but I’ve yet to see that happen. Now thankfully, we distance ourselves from this bigotry and receive people of all races in full membership. These persecutions and teachings were false—the persecution and teachings regarding homosexuality are equally false, and the Church’s attempts to claim that homosexuality can be cured is as ridiculous as the possibility of a black man’s skin turning white.

With my feelings being expressed on the mistreatment of homosexuals in this Church, I now wish to relate the events that led me to take a stand in this matter by writing this letter, when it has not been in my nature to publicly speak out as I am now.

My husband, a wonderful man who cherishes his family and honors his priesthood, is currently serving as 1st counselor to our bishop. As a member of the bishopric he attends Stake Bishopric Council each month. Last week as my husband arrived, our Stake President (whose own brother is gay) referred to a letter signed by the First Presidency which stated the church’s position on Proposition 8. It was passed out to each bishop with instruction that if they hear of any member of their wards opposing the Church’s stance, they are to be reported to him. Our Stake President went on to state how there were people in our area who were collecting money to oppose the Proposition, and this was unacceptable. So apparently it’s okay for bishops to put collection boxes outside their offices and Stake Presidents to start web sites to collect donations to support Proposition 8, but those who oppose have no right to do the same? I do not understand how the Brethren can justify taking such an active stance in government when it violates our own doctrine to not “mingle religious influence with civil government” (D&C 134:9). What sickens me the most is that the Church would use its power to not only influence members to vote for something that would take away the basic rights of those who most of which are not even affiliated with the Church nor believe as we do, but that in doing so they are now also infringing upon the rights of their own members by enforcing their stance on us with threats to those who in good conscience, do not approve. I am one of these latter members who is willing to take the risk of speaking out on something that mocks the Church’s claim of belief in free agency, and in doing so, may very well put my own membership in jeopardy.

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Sep 25 2008

Dan Stoddard – San Diego – Please, protect and preserve my marriage

I have been aware that I was gay since age 7. I was raised Mormon and after a mission, at age 23, had little choice but to marry in the Salt Lake Temple. She knew I was gay before we married but I went through the obligatory “reparative therapy” for a year and was pronounced cured before tying the knot. In 1981, I could not bear living a double life and lying to my wife and family. At age 29, we divorced based on irreconcilable differences and my father arranged for my excommunication from the LDS Church. I wished we could have parted amicably, but she was so full of righteous anger and religious venom that to this day we don’t communicate.

We have 2 wonderful daughters, 29 and 32, with whom I have full relationships and good friendships and they are the joys of my life.

I met the man of my dreams in 1990. A year later, we bought our San Diego home in 1991. In order to protect our assets and my partner from my Mormon family’s possible aggression, we went to an attorney to draw up our legal trust and durable powers of attorney for financial and medical health care. We’ve also registered in California as Domestic Partners in 2002.

We were legally married just this past July 26 in a festive home wedding attended by 60 guests comprised of family, friends and neighbors. My daughters escorted each of us down the aisle. It was a wonderful occasion, a beautiful event and life affirming to celebrate our 18 years together.

Our neighbors who live four doors down the street and have been married 51 years said at the reception, “If this marriage of these great guys and good neighbors threatens my marriage, then there are some fundamental problems in my own marriage.”

But, in all honesty, when our Wedding Officiant deputized by the State of California pronounced us “married”, our relationship somehow changed. And let me tell you, that when you stand up in front of family, friends and neighbors and speak your own personal vows to the one you love and say “I Do”, it changes you. And the support of those attending was an amazing feeling, too.

We are no longer “almost as good as” married people (separate but almost equal)! We are legally married in the State of California and our marriage is recognized in New York, Massachusetts, Canada, England, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Norway, and Sweden.

Please VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8, and protect and preserve my marriage and the opportunity of other loving couples to enjoy the kind of marriage I have today.

Thank You,

Dan Stoddard
San Diego, CA

No responses yet

Sep 21 2008

[Name Withheld], Alberta, Canada – My letter

Editor’s Note: The following letter was received by Signing for Something, including the name of the author, however, the author provided convincing evidence that his name should be withheld.

I am in a mixed marriage. I have had homosexual feelings and inclinations since I can remember. However, I believed with all my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. I believed that if Christ had the power to raise the dead and heal the sick then it would be possible for me to change. I believed that God wanted me to change.

I counselled with my Bishops, Stake President, seminary teacher, parents, Mission President and church counsellors. However, it never really changed the fact that I am gay. I was born this way. It is the only reality I remember. Yet, I believed that I needed to do certain things to return to live with my Heavenly Father. I believed that I had to marry and have a family. I believed that if I could not overcome this trial of life that I would be doomed for eternity, forever cut off from my loved ones and damned from any eternal progression. I just wanted to do what is right.

So, I married.

I am still married, and happily so. However, my wife knows that I am gay. Not that I have same sex attraction, not that I struggle with a heinous sin, but that I am gay. This has contributed to the happiness that I feel. However, this does not mean that our relationship is without hurt. It pains me to know of the agony I place my wife in almost every day. Someone recently asked me: “IF you know what you know now, would you have gotten married to a woman?” The real answer to this question is no. Had I known unquestionably that I was a gay and there was nothing I could do about it I would have pursued an intimate relationship with another man.

And, if this was all there was to it, I might be OK. But, I reproduced.

My children are so much like me in many ways it is scary. I had to question myself: if I had to ask my children to suppress their natural sexual inclinations could I live with myself? I simply could not bear the idea that they would grow up trying to be themselves and I ask them to be something they are not. I don’t know if my children are gay, and it really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

Sometimes it seems easy to make decisions that so dramatically affect the equality of others because we don’t have to look into their faces and say that they are evil. How could I look into the faces of my children and tell them they couldn’t be with the person they loved? I really cannot imagine a loving Heavenly Father condemning His own creation.

The leaders of the Mormon Church dramatically and emphatically proclaim that they do not always speak for God. In fact, this apologetic is a must to explain away past mistakes. I know they are only speaking as men now, and this is not the will of God.

I’m glad that my children can grow up and marry whom they wish and hope that the people of California will not strip this right and freedom from their fellow citizens. I am disappointed that the Church would so vehemently oppose the creation of families and those who have been marginalized, isolated and spoken as a byword. We are your neighbours, your coworkers, your friends, your parents, your siblings and your children.

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