Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The LDS Church and the Kiss Heard Round the Salt Lake Valley

Before I write anything I want to express that I am a Mormon, and I support my church's teachings. However, too many Church members view the Church's opposition to homosexuality as a lifestyle as a reason and excuse to discriminate and oppress gays and lesbians individually and as a group. For this I am sorry and embarrassed. The second great commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself -- there is no caveat in this commandment for color, religion, or sexual orientation.

Last week a gay couple was asked to leave the church owned Main Street Plaza for kissing, and was subsequently arrested when they refused. This led to a minor firestorm of criticism and protests directed at the LDS church. While I agree that some on that LDS Church security crew handled the confrontation in a bigoted circa-1963 Alabama-esque manner, I think the subsequent rage, and protests are counter-productive and somewhat misguided.

First, it is disingenuous of the arrested gay couple to claim that the kiss on the LDS Church owned plaza was just an innocent display of affection. The LDS church is often made to be the main oppressor of the gay and lesbian community in Utah. I would assume that a gay couple living downtown would know this. However, this couple expects the public to believe they were somehow shocked when they were confronted for publicly displaying affection amongst homophobic Mormons on private LDS Church property. Come on! This couple was looking to raise eyebrows, even if they didn't expect they would be arrested and treated so brutally.

Second, the LDS church and the gay and lesbian community will never see eye to eye on this issue. The LDS church (unless this ends up being a major church policy shift caused by a visit from the Deity in person) will never support gay marriage or openly support anything resembling gay marriage. The LDS church will fight gay marriage on all fronts, until the idea is completely rejected in this country, or it becomes institutionalized. I believe the biggest reason the church fights gay marriage so openly is due to our nations civil rights laws, if this was institutionalized nationally our country's civil rights laws would possibly become very cumbersome to any Christian-church that doesn't perform, solemnize, or recognize gay marriages by way of anti-discrimination lawsuits and by other legal issues that face organizations that are viewed as discriminatory. So the point is this, the battle for gay rights should be fought on other fronts (i.e. against political groups like Eagle Forum, and legislators like Chris Buttars), compromises may be needed, and most of all level headed civil political discourse should be maintained. The rage and protests against the LDS church last week seemed a little like childish-pouting. This doesn't excuse the security guards behavior, but targeting the LDS church as an organization is not going to lead gay and lesbian activists to their end goal.

Having said all that. More needs to be done to teach local LDS church members, how be more tolerant of others in this state. The backwardness of many Latter-Day Saints in Zion is somewhat appalling -- tolerance of those who drink alcohol can be a stretch for some members. For a religion that wants members to proselyte to all people, it is interesting that one of the most powerful tools (loving all men as brothers) completely eludes so many of the local Saints.

Personally, I support civil unions (that are treated exactly like marriage) as the best compromise in the gay marriage debate. Civil unions don't seem to be as problematic for Christian churches, and they provide marital benefits and protections to homosexual partners. Most of all I hope that a spirit of peace and compromise may one day lead to a resolution of this issue.

2 comments:

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Victory In Progress said...

Great post. I've always felt the same way about the Church's opposition to the legalization of gay marriage. I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be the same intensity if civil rights legislation wasn't on the horizon. More members of our church need to pull their heads out, and realize you can be agreeable in your disagreements.