Archive for the 'Other Commentary' Category

Nov 13 2008

Oppose Proposition 8 But Oppose Hate As Well.

Several days ago our committee was saddened to see a picture of the LDS Temple in LA with the word “bigots” scrawled in pink across one of its gates. One of our committee members called to express condolences to the Temple President, Grant R. Brimhall, and to inquire if there was any way we could make a donation to help offset the cost of repairs or clean up.

The Temple President informed us that on the whole the protesters had been fairly well behaved. He said there had been some cleanup costs totaling about $100 but that no assistance was needed. He kindly told us that he knew every batch of bricks had a few “clinkers” and that it was the same with people. He seemed touched at our concern.

Sadly, isolated instances of vandalism continue to occur.  While we cannot know what motivates specific individuals to commit such crimes in all instances, suspicions run rampant that it is in retaliation for the LDS role in passing Proposition 8 in California. 

We call on responsible citizens, and particularly those opposed to Proposition 8 to assist the LDS Church in repairing damages incurred to their property. Our cause is best served when we act out of love, for our cause is one of love. Returning a wrong for a wrong will only lead to further strife and misunderstanding. While we feel the LDS Church should be ashamed of the campaign of fear and misinformation they strong-armed their members into bankrolling, we are just as vigorously opposed to any injustices being perpetrated on the LDS Church and its members.

We also wish to state that several members of our committee, as well as many who wrote letters or signed our petition are current or past members of the LDS Church. Many of us love the LDS Church and its members deeply. Attacking members of LDS Church as monolithically bigoted is a painful betrayal of our willingness to publicly state our opposition to our Church’s campaign against civil marriage rights. It is our hope that the vast majority of individuals on both sides of the issue can treat each other with respect even as we vehemently disagree. Of course there will be a few “clinkers” on both sides. Let’s all show our good will by helping rectify any such actions we discover.

Andrew Callahan,
Derek Price,
Mary Danzig,
Peter Danzig,
and other members of the SigningForSomething.org Committee.

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Nov 07 2008

Protest Scheduled – Friday, 6 pm – Salt Lake City

A protest against LDS Church support for California’s Proposition 8 is scheduled for Friday, 6 p.m., at North Temple and State Street in Salt Lake City.

If Jacob Whipple gets what he’s hoping for, at least 1,000 Utahns will turn out Friday night to protest the involvement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in helping pass Proposition 8, a California ballot measure that effectively killed, at least for now, same-sex marriages in that state.
The call for people to gather at 6 p.m. at North Temple and State Street in Salt Lake City is to show solidarity with those protesting in California, Whipple explained. Among those hitting the streets were about 3,000 who gathered Thursday afternoon outside the LDS Temple in Westwood, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, bearing signs including one featuring a photo of a gay couple with the words,”Why is this joy and love so scary,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
“We want to show we share their pain, and here, at the heart of the church, we want to stab it,” said Whipple, of Salt Lake City.
The 29-year-old former LDS Church member, who served a mission in Argentina, was helping to get the word out late Thursday about the Utah protest. He said he and others were seeking support through e-mails, text messages, social networking Web pages and old-fashioned phone calls.

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Oct 31 2008

Linda Stay, St. George, UT – Candlelight Gathering in SLC & St George

Please spread the word!

= EQUALITY ROCKS !!!

Unite for an evening of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE,
Music and Support for our Gay and Lesbian community

WHAT: Candlelight Gathering

WHEN: Sunday Nov 2, 6:00 pm

WHERE: Vernon Worthen Park
300 S 400 E – St George or
Salt Lake City Library Plaza 200 E 300 S

Want to feel like you’re making a difference……then make one!

NEWS RELEASE, OCTOBER 30, 2008

As the LDS Church attempts to exclude gay people from the right to marry, a group of Mormon mothers are stepping forward in support of their gay children and the larger gay community.



At the mothers’ urging, PFLAG, Equality Utah, the Pride Center, the Inclusion Center, Affirmation, and the Human Rights Campaign have joined together and scheduled a candlelight gathering for all supporters of homosexual friends and neighbors this Sunday evening, November 2nd, 6:00 p.m. at the Vernon Worthen Park in St George. This is in conjunction with an event in the Salt Lake City Library plaza at 6:00 p.m.



The gathering is open to the general public, gay, straight, Mormon and non-Mormon alike and is intended to be a positive pro-community show of support, love and inclusion.
There will be a short program featuring Mormon mothers. Candles will be provided for everyone following the program and there will be a candlelight procession around the city block of the park. 


This event is free. Everyone sympathetic to gay civil rights is encouraged to attend. The sponsoring groups foster equality for all people.

Contact Linda Stay 435-674-0994

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Oct 23 2008

Selected Comments from “Radio West” Listeners

NPR’s “Radio West” aired a broadcast on October 23, 2008 titled Mormons and Proposition 8. The following comments were selected from the listener responses on the website at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kuer/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1396411

 

Re: Same Sex Marriage by: instereo 10/22/2008 7:23:40 PM

I went to California to visit my daughter last weekend (Oct 17-21) and must have seen over 100 TV ads for and against Proposition 8. As an LDS member it was disheartening to me to see how “FEAR” was used as the prime motivation behind the ads to vote in favor of Prop. 8. I also saw 3 or 4 LDS kids (or other Christian kids based on how they looked) standing with posters on a street corner and then on the other street corner were 15-20 kids from Cal Arts talking about love and letting people make up their own minds.

It seems to me that the LDS Church will make these moral stands but they always seem to be on the wrong side of history. They voted in the 1850’s to be a slave territory, they sanctioned polygamy, they were big supporters of prohibition, they fought against the ERA amendment, and they didn’t give blacks the priesthood until after the civil rights movement was basically over in 1978.

Morality is so narrowly defined by most LDS people that they don’t see larger moral issues. They don’t seem to understand that the constituion guarantees rights and does not limit them. The constitution limits government and defines rights. Same Sex Marriage is an extention and definition of rights that should be granted to everyone.

Again as an LDS member is hard for me to understand how with their belief in the pre-existance and the great war in heaven that they want to use government to force people into correct moral choices. If they truly had faith in their theology, they’d have faith in their ability to teach their morality in their families and churches and let the people make their own choices.

 

Re: Same Sex Marriage by: starbet 10/23/2008 11:26:34 AM

I’m a member of a large “faithful” Mormon family, and a number of family members believed “because so-and-so at church said so” that if the Proposition fails the Mormon Church would be forced to perform gay marriages in the Temple. I was amazed, but it was very illustrative of the fear and lack of information driving the process.

 

Re: Same Sex Marriage by: eclark 10/23/2008 12:08:48 PM

As an active Mormon, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable as my place of worship is becoming more and more a place of politics and of uncomfortable remarks about gays and lesbians. My; own family has recently had a tearful, divisive discussion over this issue, leaving the very conservative side of the family mad at those in the family who feel uncomfortable supporting proposition eight when one of the family members is homosexual.

The lesbian member of our family wants to attend church, but is afraid to do so because of how she will be received, and due to hateful remarks by many in her ward and neighborhood, and feels so helpless trying to feel accepted into her family.

 

Re: Same Sex Marriage by: NYawker 10/23/2008 12:18:58 PM

I’m an active, loyal member of the LDS Church who understands the importance of deciding this issue in California — namely, because so much of the nation turns to California for legal (Constitutional) guidance. Nonetheless, I have a question that nobody really seems to be able to answer — perhaps someone here can help out. If the church is truly viewing gay marriage from a “global” perspective, as the guest from Evergreen implied, then why hasn’t the church also read similar statements of “action” from ward pulpits in Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts? Why just California (and Hawaii, many years ago?) Am I missing some legal reason, or is the church simply choosing to take up this issue where it feels it has more influence? Thanks!

Re: Same Sex Marriage

by: AlanAllen 10/23/2008 1:33:36 PM

 

One thing keeps bothering me about today’s show. Why did the church refuse to participate in the conversation?

 

Re: Same Sex Marriage by: Larry50 10/23/2008 2:55:10 PM

I’m very worried about what all this discussion in Mormon wards in California is doing to members that disagree with the church’s position.


Week after week my family in CA is being barraged with anti-gay lessons and thoughtless comments from members.
They have chosen to stay home from church for the next few months for their own sanity. One member of my family is actually very disillusioned with the church and is seriously considering his membership. This is amazing to me since he has always been a very active member. It seems that the church is willing to write off a whole population of active members for what the church perceives ia a “greater good”. (Prop 8) This is so sad for a church build on “love”. Think about all the parents sitting in meetings across CA that have gay children. Asking them to put a sign in their front yard would be like driving a stake through their child’s heart. So sad.

 

 

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Oct 22 2008

Selected Comments from Deseret News Readers

These are a few comments selected from reader responses posted on the Deseret News Website in reaction to the SigningForSomething.org letter delivery.

Sad to Say | 9:40 a.m. Oct. 17, 2008
My faith in my Savior is the rock of my testimony — not my faith in men. I’m very sad to say that I have lost some of my respect and faith in the administrators of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of their decision to alienate so many good people simply because of their sexual orientation. Of all horrendous things going on in this world, and we choose Proposition 8 to take a stand on? Sad….

Anonymous | 5:50 a.m. Oct. 17, 2008
The church is going down a “slippery slope” on this one. Do they really believe that they can have a long term effect on this issue? I think it is inappropriate with our doctrine regarding church and state to tell its members how to vote politically in any regard. Maybe a long term plan that looks to the future with regard to our own practices towards homosexual’s is more enlightning and helpful. This is a battle we cannot win, we must find another way to put our message out other then political involvment or protest. It just seems beneath us.

J.Parry | 10:21 a.m. Oct. 17, 2008
As an faithful member of the LDS Church, I must say I am very saddened by the discussion taking place here. Obviously people on both sides feel very passionately about the issue and I believe each side should be able to speak their minds. However, I am sad and ashamed by some of the name calling and hateful attacks that are tied to this issue. Our church teaches above all else to love one another. There is a way to express your views and be respectful toward each other. Do you really think Jesus would refer to our homosexual brothers and sisters as “lesbos” or call them “disgusting”? God knows each of us as individuals, he knows our weaknesses and we’ll be judged by HIM. There are good people on both sides – remember that, respect each other.

brillo | 10:43 a.m. Oct. 17, 2008
As a temple-worthy lifelong Mormon and the mother of a gay son, I’m listening to both sides of this issue, and believe me, there are fanatics on both sides. There are also distortion on both sides, and a lack of Christianity and respect for the opposition on both sides. But (bad news for the likes of Idaho Girl) so far I’ve found more Christian charity among the average gays than among the average Mormons. For evidence of this, all you need to do is reread this string of comments. I am embarrassed for my church, not because of its leadership but because of its vitriolic, self-righteous members.
http://deseretnews.com/user/comments/1,5150,705255865,00.html

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Oct 22 2008

Digital Scrapbook/Photo Essay of SiginingForSomething.org’s Delivery

Andee Duncan has created a beautiful Digital Scrapbook of SigningForSomething.org’s letter, petition, and flower delivery to the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

http://smilebox.com/playBlog/4e5441334d6a6b314e513d3d0d0a

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Sep 18 2008

Excellent Rebuttal of “Six Consequences… if Proposition 8 Fails”

This is a link to an excellent rebuttal of the arguments presented in “Six Consequences… if Proposition 8 Fails”

http://connellodonovan.com/thurston_response.pdf

It was prepared by Morris Thurston, who is a legal consultant to the Joseph Smith PapersProject and an adjunct professor at BYU Law School. 

Please read it and spread it as widely as possible. As Morris Thurston wisely points out, “Relying on deceptive arguments is not only contrary to gospel principles, but ultimately works against the very mission of the Church.”

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Sep 06 2008

A Powerful Letter from Carol Lynn Pearson

The following letter was published in the Salt Lake Tribune 8/16/2008.

We can change history for gay LDS

Carol Lynn Pearson

 

Reading the various reviews of the new LDS Church-authorized book, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, prompts me to stand as witness for another tragic killing of a group of people in our community for which – when we have the benefit of history – we will be deeply ashamed.
    The insidious thing about this killing is that we manage – though it would break our hearts to know it – to get the unfortunate ones to pick up the gun and kill themselves. I speak of the suicides of our LDS gay brothers (occasionally sisters) in a number that far exceeds the 120 members of the Fancher party.
    Each victim at Mountain Meadows had walking beside him a man poised to raise his gun and shoot. History will show that the gay men of whom I speak had walking beside them a dark shadow impersonating God, a shadow that gave them misinformation about who they were, misinformation that most of us now acknowledge was both dead wrong and deadly: “Homosexuality is often caused by masturbation . . . may lead to bestiality . . . caused by selfishness . . . electric shock will set you right . . . a good woman . . . reparative therapy . . . fasting and prayer . . . you would be better off at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake with a millstone around your neck . . .”
    Our current discussion of this issue reflects better science and a more generous spirit, but too many deaths continue. Gay youth attempt suicide three times more often than their straight peers. According to an article in the Deseret Morning News of April 23, 2006, Utah leads the nation in suicides of men age 15-24.
    I recently received an e-mail (quoted with permission) from a woman in Utah who said, “I’m in agony over the suicide death two months ago of my youngest son, Marshall, age 25, a gay student who was a senior in chemical engineering at the U. of U. He knew all about spreading love but didn’t feel enough in return to keep him going. On my refrigerator I have a package of flower seeds marked, in his writing, ‘5/1.’ That was the day he was going to plant them. He didn’t make it that long, so I’ll plant them for him – next spring.”
    The stories keep coming: A woman in my ward just told me of two gay nephews who both took their lives; a woman in the airport recently told me of three LDS gay boys who killed themselves in her neighborhood in Bountiful.
    The dozens of stories I personally know are the tip of the awful iceberg. I think of Stuart Matis, an LDS celibate gay man who shot himself on the steps of the stake center in Los Altos, Calif., as a direct result of the intense religious rhetoric around a “protection of marriage” initiative similar to the one proposed in California today.
    One of the historians of Mountain Meadows, Ron Walker, says that he’s “come to see the massacre as a cautionary tale in making judgments about those who are different” and that the story “is a case study in how not to apply religion and how one should apply true religion in one’s own life.”
    I believe, with these historians, that we LDS people are hungry for the truth and that we want to apply true religion in our lives. I believe with Anne Frank that people are really good at heart and I know that there is no better heart than the Mormon heart, leader and member alike.
    I believe that if the rider had reached Salt Lake in time, Brigham Young would have done what he could to avert the massacre in southern Utah. Many messengers today, of which I am one, have ridden in with reports and pleas for help regarding the ongoing self-slaughter of so many of our best and beautiful young men.
    For many it is too late. For others – if you and I care enough – we can change history.
   —
    * CAROL LYNN PEARSON is a native Utahn who lives and writes in California. She is the author of the stage play, “Facing East,” the story of an LDS couple dealing with the suicide of their gay son. Her most recent book is “No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones.”

 

 

 


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Jul 06 2008

Church should let people ‘govern themselves’

A commentary in the Salt Lake Tribune:

What seemed most objectionable to some members in 2002, and what some find so in the recent letter, is not the encouragement to be politically engaged in important issues, but rather the suggestion that they should vote in a particular way. It has been a principle for more than a century that “The Church does not engage in politics; its members belong to the political parties of their own pleasure. . . . They are not asked, much less required, to vote this way or that” (President Joseph F. Smith, 1903).

Read the whole article here.

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Jul 06 2008

Frankie-Terry Rolapp, New York City – From the Internet – Letter to Family and Friends

Editor’s Note: This letter was originally published elsewhere on the Internet, and is published here by permission of the author.

Dear friends and family,

On Sunday, June 29th, a letter from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be read to its California members. I’ve reprinted it here:

Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families

In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008 Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

From an early age, my mother and father always encouraged me to bare testimony of the things that I know are true. On “Fast Sundays,” dad would nudge and poke us (always the salesman—he’d strike testimony
deals) until one of us would relent and stand before the pulpit. After a while, dad didn’t have to poke anymore. I learned to recognize a different kind of nudge, a spiritual one, a voice that told me when something was true and when I ought to open my mouth and tell someone about it. But my parents also taught me that this whispering voice has another property. It also lets you know when you are in the presence of falsehood.

When I read the text of this letter, I am overwhelmed by very complicated emotions. There are things here that strike me as profoundly true. I believe that God holds marriage in the highest regard. I believe that children, wherever possible, are entitled to be born into a bond of marriage. I also believe that people should
take action to affect political change in line with their beliefs. I believe all these things are true, and I want to bare my testimony of these things.

But there is also so much in this letter that is destructive. There are things in here that are not in alignment with the loving God I know. There are things in this letter that are bad for families, bad for children, and bad for society. I feel that I must bare my testimony of these things as well.

California’s Proposition 22 (the initiative that lead to the state law mentioned in the letter) and the similar laws that have been debated across our nation are often referred to as “Defense of Marriage” acts. I’ve come to understand that people want to ban same-sex marriages because they feel that marriage needs defending, that it’s under attack. By a lot of estimates, they’re probably right. The often-quoted statistic is that fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. As a teacher, I’ve seen a shocking number of unmarried pregnant teenagers (approximately twelve percent of the girls in our last year’s graduating class). In a small number of instances, I’ve witnessed destructive marriages that transform into terrible forms of abuse against both spouses and children. In much larger number, I’ve seen a subtler kind of abuse where parents, failing in many areas of marriage and family, put their own needs before those of their children.

Marriage and families are threatened. But I don’t believe that two men or two women who want to marry have anything to do with this threat. In fact, in today’s world, the institution of marriage couldn’t find better allies in its struggle for survival than same-sex couples seeking to get married. This is because same-sex couples who choose to merge their lives and form a family are doing so not because they want to change marriage or redefine marriage or hurt marriage in any way, but rather because they love each other and they love the
very idea of marriage. We want marriage really bad. We want marriage as it is: a celebration of two people who want to work together to form a family. We love this institution and we want a part of it. We’re confident we can help to make it better.

My partner Tripp and I are enjoying our fifth year together. A year ago last fall, we decided we were ready to commit our lives to each other, so we did the best we could. We applied for and were granted Domestic Partnership from the City of New York. This means that we have hospital visitation rights (as long as the sick or injured one of us is being treated in a New York City hospital) and that we are entitled to extend certain benefits to our partner (taxed as solid income at the state and federal level and only as long as one of us is
an employee of New York City). It’s not much, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The process was a little dehumanizing, akin to standing in line at the DMV. We showed up at our allotted time, filled out a stack of paperwork, spoke to a gruff clerk, and handed over a twenty-five dollar money order (a marriage license goes for twenty-four). We got a piece of paper and were sent on our way. It was a joyous day for us, but it wasn’t marriage.

My partner and I want to get married. We want to gather before our friends and family and boldly declare our commitment to forming a family of our own. We want to adopt children who are without parents and give them the opportunities to succeed that our own parents gave us. We want to teach them to love life, to act selflessly, and to make the world a better place. Mostly, I think we’ll teach them the value of family since it’s something we both value so much.

I can’t understand how anyone could think that marriage needs to be defended from Tripp and me.

The First Presidency letter states that the “California Supreme Court recently reversed [Proposition 22,] this vote of the people.” This is false. The California Supreme Court has no power to reverse votes; that’s not one of its constitutionally-granted responsibilities. Rather, the Court ruled that the legislation resulting from Proposition 22 is unconstitutional. This means that the law itself is illegal, running contrary to the California Constitution, the highest law of the state. This is why there is a battle about to rage. Those who oppose same sex marriage know that the only way they’ll be able to end it is to amend the California State Constitution, to place the text “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (or something similar) directly into the highest law of the state.

If California were to pass such an amendment, it would be somewhat unprecedented. Constitutions, by and large, concern themselves with two things. Firstly, they define the basic functions of the various branches of government. Secondly, they set in stone the permanent civil rights of the people. To add text such as that listed above into a constitution is to hearken back to a darker time in our history when rights were doled out unevenly, for example, by class, gender, or race. This is “discrimination” in its truest sense of the word: differentiation among various groups of people. (These rights for you. Those rights for you.) Our country has spent the last two hundred years working to remove discrimination from our constitutions, allowing non-landowners to participate in civic life, women to vote, and African Americans to lead lives outside of slavery. We do not have a history of adding discrimination (differentiation) into our constitutions, and we never should.

I was a senior in high school during the campaign for Proposition 22. I had told my parents I was gay four years earlier, and throughout high school had been struggling to define myself as a gay Mormon. This is because I valued so much of what I had been taught in the Church, but I knew that my sexuality was neither something wicked nor something to be fought against. I was struggling to reconcile these facts and working hard to hold onto my family in the process. As is often the case with my generation, my parents probably struggled more with my coming out than I did. I had the benefit of gay role models. They were alone and terrified. After four years of pulling their hair out over what to do with a very aggressive gay teenager, they were at wit’s end.

My parents were at a loss with what to do. They knew how much the issue meant to me, but they couldn’t support me. My mother told me that she feared losing her temple recommend if she did not participate in the campaign. Whether or not that was true, she certainly feared the social and societal ramifications that would come from ignoring the directives of the church leadership. She was a wreck for weeks. Ultimately, she decided to do nothing and say nothing. My father insisted that he had no opinion on the matter and that he’d simply stay out of it. I campaigned heavily in the opposite direction.

Months after the crushing blow that turned Proposition 22 into law, I was involved in a documentary film about politically active teenagers with pioneer roots. They asked me to gather old family memorabilia for footage. I pulled a ladder up to the cabinets high in my father’s closet where my family stores important items and documents. I sorted through dusty pictures of grandparents, my father’s old missionary
nameplates, and the coin collection he and I had kept when I was young. Eventually, I came upon a letter dated from the previous spring. I was shocked to discover it was from the local leadership of the church thanking my father for providing his offices as call centers from which LDS volunteers could carry out the work of the campaign. I was equally shocked that my mother hadn’t told me anything about it.

I felt deceived. If my parents supported Proposition 22, the initiative that bore the slogan “Defend Marriage,” it meant that they wanted to defend marriage from me, that they saw me as a threat. But I didn’t feel like a threat. If anything, working for marriage felt like the best way for me to affirm the values they had instilled in me: I wanted to get married because they were, because my grandparents were, and because I liked what I saw in both cases. My parents and I drifted heavily after that.

I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until several years later while I was teaching in East Africa. During a break, my friend Judd and I traveled to Rwanda to do some research on the 1994 genocide. We’d spent the day visiting schools and churches still piled with the corpses of victims. At one church, we met an eleven year old boy who’d managed to escape the killers but had lost every member of his family before it was done. When the day was over, Judd found the only telephone in town and dialed his father. He needed to check in. I headed across the way, sat on a pile of stones, and began scrawling in my journal. Suddenly it dawned on me: why wasn’t I on the phone with my dad? I did a little calendar counting and realized to my surprise that I actually hadn’t spoken with my father for more than a year and a half. Before that, it had been not much more than words and grunts. And my mother? We talked sometimes, but not about topics much more interesting than the weather. How could it have gotten so bad?

I knew I had to do something. I began sending my parents letters, piles of angry words airing old disappointments, frustrations, and perceived injustices. They fired back. We railed at each other for weeks, spewing awful, hurtful things. It felt great, not because we were hurting each other (that part hurt!), but because for the first time in years, we were communicating! We realized that the vast majority of our misunderstandings were just that—misunderstandings. We realized that we each had had a part in driving the wedge that had formed between us. We remembered how much we like each other and also how much alike we are. Mostly I loved hearing from my dad. I missed him terribly, though I think I was too hurt to admit it back then. I think he also must have loved hearing from me. My father is a proud missionary. When he tells stories of his two years abroad, his expression, his stature, the very timbre of his voice changes to
reflect the life-altering experience it must have been for him. There in East Africa, I was serving a different kind of mission, but it was an act of service nonetheless, so on some level I think he must have enjoyed getting letters from his missionary son. It’s funny how as I look back now, I regard those crazy weeks, sweating among the gruesome remains of the Rwandan genocide by day and crying over letters to and from my parents at night, as some of the best weeks of my life.

In places like Rwanda where people have been so awful to each other that there is no real way to right old wrongs without igniting another round of atrocities, one solution has been the much-publicized “Truth and Reconciliation” commissions. The idea is simple: we state our grievances, admit our crimes, accept responsibility, note the many ways we’re similar, and then move on. If we continue to refuse our mutual culpability and blame each other, to insist that we remain on opposite sides of a war, the war continues and children continue to lose their families. My parents and I have long ago sought truth and reconciliation. It was hard, but it was worth it. We did so, because we value our family so much. We don’t want the fighting to continue.

It’s now 2008, and the fighting is about to resume. We’re all about to choose our sides (or decide not to choose) and see how things figure out come November. Before you do, I’d like to ask you to pause and consider. I’m confident that you know at least a handful of gay people. If you’ll indulge me, summon these people up in your mind—not “gay people,” not the mass of faceless entities that you know or think you know from television or literature, but the actual, real, individual gay people you know and are friendly with. Look these people over in your mind. When you consider each one, can you honestly say that he or she is inherently bad for children? That a family he or she would create would be destructive? That he or she
poses a threat to the institution of marriage?

I was taught that I have certain rights as a child of God. I’m not talking about civil rights here. I’m talking about the right to personal revelation. I was taught that God takes an intimate interest in each of us and is willing to speak to us individually, especially if we vigorously study the things that are troubling us in advance. When Joseph Smith was faced with difficult questions, he turned to the Epistle of James: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” I believe that we all lack wisdom on this issue. I know that I do. It’s a newish one that our society is just beginning to face. It’s gray and quite complicated, and it’s only going to get worse as the summer heats up and the forces on both sides begin spewing rhetoric. It’s a tricky issue, and like the First Presidency, I believe it’s an issue that God is pretty interested in.

Because what’s at stake here really is families. It’s the family that I came from and the family I’m trying to create. It’s the family of the Church that keeps encouraging its gay and lesbian members to marry opposite sex partners and start families that are based upon inherent falsehoods. It’s the family of our state and the family of our nation that must always endeavor to protect our children, not from same sex couples, but from adult selfishness and from those who would seek to fill our constitutions with formalized discriminations. It’s about your gay family members (some of whom you know, some of whom you don’t, most of whom have not yet been born) and the families that they will one day create.

I beg you to study, to pray, and to seek personal insight from God before you enlist in either side of this campaign. Please do not simply follow the urgings of the First Presidency, donating your means and time without giving full consideration to what it all actually means. Please study, inform yourself, and seek personal revelation. I have a testimony that God likes questions. After all, what father doesn’t like to hear from his children?

And if, when you’re done, your answer comes back different than mine, I’ll respect and honor your decision to join the effort to stop Tripp and me from marrying. If you fundamentally believe that preventing us from starting a family will protect the institution of marriage that I love, how can I fault you for that? I’ll probably even still invite you to our wedding.

I’ve often wondered what truth and reconciliation would look like if the two sides of the gay marriage debate would stop for a moment, sit down, and speak to each other. I have this sinking suspicion that at the end of the day we’d like each other and come to realize how very much alike we are. After all, we all want the same thing: happy families.

Love,

Frankie-Terry Rolapp

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