The Tipping Point for the Mormon Pro-Gay Movement?

By: Andrew S
June 6, 2012

I must confess that I haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s science popularization book The Tipping Point, but recent events have caused me to think of the general concept behind tipping points. What causes a social movement to hit critical mass? We’ve all heard the concept of a “vocal minority,” but when — and how — does a minority become loud enough to be heard? And when is that minority loud enough that they are perceived as bigger or more influential than their numbers would suggest?

I have had a guarded optimism about recent events where Mormons have been thrust into the spotlight on progressive issues. I wondered about the mixed message that the BYU student group Understanding Same Gender Attraction’s contribution to the It Gets Better project sends to Mormons and non-Mormons. I wrote about the trend I’ve recognized where the distinction between Mormon people and a Mormon church is blurred, exploited or bent. But like the Matrix’s spoon, perhaps progressive Mormons have realized the truth — that there is no Mormon church, so it is not the church that bends, only ourselves.

This past weekend has brought another such event. Mormons Building Bridges at Gay Pride in Salt Lake City.

Mormons Building Bridges

Joanna Brooks has covered it. The Huffington Post has covered it. Even Deseret News has covered it.

It seems to be a slam dunk for the church from a public opinion perspective, but it’s also a slam dunk for progressive Mormons. Could it be a tipping point?

Signs of Opposition

The problem here is that narratives like this usually don’t go unopposed. One major question is whether there are people from within the church who find problem with this narrative. I’m sure there will be people commenting to this very article about how they have disagreements with what happened, but I think I’ll summarize with Well-behaved Mormon Woman’s position:

If this march (and others planned) is to be a show of LDS member support for gays, intended to draw outside attention, then I would question exactly what message this is sending and why? Did any of these LDS members, marching in the parade, have signs inviting gay members to return to Church, saying “Come Worship With Us Again” — or rather, are these marches simply intended to broadcast a message that Mormons support gay Mormons, no matter how they choose to live their lives, and that we will embrace you within our congregations — even if you choose to openly and actively live a homosexual lifestyle? If it is the latter, then certainly most “active” members of the Church would not be in support of such public, minority declarations.

Once again I have concerns that small fringe groups, of LDS members, are using any available media source to promote and advocate for change that is oppositional to what current prophets teach. During this time of increased interest in everything Mormon, it is beyond easy to bring media attention to anything remotely controversial about being Mormon. Normalizing same-sex attraction, with its advocates, both inside and outside of the Church, has become a joint effort with, no doubt, hopeful political results.

(Bolded Emphasis added, but italicized emphasis preserved from original.)

One thing I will say is that I have never seen the word “active” used in scare quotes like this before. I can almost imagine someone speaking about so-called active members of the church.

…But there’s something there. I’ve seen people go so far as to analyze the photos of the marchers and check to see whether clothes worn would be plausible with garments. Quite frankly, that seems like something you might see out of BYU, but there is definitely some skepticism as to whether Mormons Building Bridges reflects something substantial and real.

In her article covering the event, Jana Riess points out that there is still change to be made in church policy to reach a more charitable position toward gay and lesbian members. While her post opens its own can of worms, I focused on an earlier part of her article:

I can’t pinpoint a precise date when I started to recognize that instead of being part of a stubborn minority of Mormons who cared about GLBT rights, I was part of a growing community of faithful Latter-day Saints who long for equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation. But this transformation has indeed been happening — not just in the media but on the ground, in the Mormon communities I see and know. Good Mormons who just a few years ago might have felt comfortable making homophobic judgments or remarks are expressing to me that they are rethinking this issue.

From “stubborn minority” to “growing community,” eh?

While certainly a growing community can still be a minority (and a stubborn one at that), it seems to me that Jana intends to contrast these designations…it’s not just a stubborn minority…it’s something…weightier. The proof of the pudding is in the media and on the ground.

Is This Real?

That’s the first question I ask myself: is this real? Is what Jana says about a transformation of members something that is actually happening?

Personally, I can accept that attitudes are changing. Even in the church. But my optimism is still guarded because of the remaining questions I ask myself: what is the speed of change? How large is the movement of support? Will it make a difference in church policies or doctrine?

This gets me back to thinking about tipping points.

Queer NationThe Atlantic recently suggested that Americans have no idea how many gay people there are. Now, it’s definitely in vogue to point out things that Americans don’t know, but I won’t really dwell on that point. What struck me was the magnitude of difference:

One in ten. It’s the name of the group that puts on the Reel Affirmations gay and lesbian film festival in Washington, D.C., each year. It’s the percent popularized by the Kinsey Report as the size of the gay male population. And it’s among the most common figures pointed to in popular culture as an estimate of how many people are gay or lesbian.

But what percentage of the population is actually gay or lesbian? With the debate over same-sex marriage again an emerging fault line in American political life, the answer comes as a surprise: A lower number than you might think — and a much, much, much lower one than most Americans believe.

In surveys conducted in 2002 and 2011, pollsters at Gallup found that members of the American public massively overestimated how many people are gay or lesbian. In 2002, a quarter of those surveyed guessed upwards of a quarter of Americans were gay or lesbian (or “homosexual,” the third option given). By 2011, that misperception had only grown, with more than a third of those surveyed now guessing that more than 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Women and young adults were most likely to provide high estimates, approximating that 30 percent of the population is gay. Overall, “U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian,” Gallup found. Only 4 percent of all those surveyed in 2011 and about 8 percent of those surveyed in 2002 correctly guessed that fewer than 5 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian.

Contemporary research in a less homophobic environment has counterintuitively resulted in lower estimates rather than higher ones. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a gay and lesbian think tank, released a study in April 2011 estimating based on its research that just 1.7 percent of Americans between 18 and 44 identify as gay or lesbian, while another 1.8 percent — predominantly women — identify as bisexual. Far from underestimating the ranks of gay people because of homophobia, these figures included a substantial number of people who remained deeply closeted, such as a quarter of the bisexuals. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of women between 22 and 44 that questioned more than 13,500 respondents between 2006 and 2008 found very similar numbers: Only 1 percent of the women identified themselves as gay, while 4 percent identified as bisexual.

I’m trying to conceptualize what a world where one in four people is gay would look like. That reminds me of a particular image meme, but I won’t link it here. But seriously…something must be happening if people perceive gay folks as being so ubiquitous.

The tipping point?

The original “one in ten” figure for gay folks is particularly interesting. I imagine that Alfred Kinsey had no real understanding of the mathematical significance of 10% from a sociological and sociopolitical viewpoint, yet 10% pops up again in a Rensselaer Polytechnic study regarding the ability of committed minority groups to persuade not-as-committed majorities. That research has some caveats (it assumes there is one committed minority group and that the remaining majority is basically open-minded or otherwise uncommitted), but otherwise, the results are intriguing — no matter what the size of the population, or the mechanism of communication, or venue of network, 10% is the magic number for critical minority influence.

…Obviously, though, data suggests that the gay and lesbian population is even less than 10%, however. So, does that mean the LGBT movement is doomed?

Not so. After all, straight allies exist, and they matter.

The straight Mormon allies (such as Mormons Building Bridges) have multiple fronts upon which they are a minority seeking to effect change, however. Perhaps they are first minority in a society beginning to go supercritical in a chain reaction of support for gay rights…but secondly, they are a progressive and often unorthodox minority in a church that still values and enshrines tradition and orthodoxy.

So, to get back to Jana’s point from earlier, have progressive Mormons successfully from stubborn minority to growing community? Has it hit the 10% (or whatever the necessary number is) of active or church-going or whatever-the-criteria-is-for-Mormon-credibility Mormons necessary to reach a tipping point within the church? Or is this a case for which the research does not apply, because the majority is just as committed to its side?

or…I don’t know…do I have things skewed to begin with? I mean, I am friends with several people who share these articles, so I see this stuff all the time, but maybe it’s not that prevalent at all.

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77 Responses to The Tipping Point for the Mormon Pro-Gay Movement?

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 6, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    The clothes analysis is appropriate in terms of “definitely some skepticism as to whether Mormons Building Bridges reflects something substantial and real.” — but, the fact that most of the people in the front row (the fake blond on the far right to the contrary) fit within the LDS social norms is a strong positive.

    The Kinsey Report numbers are drawn from males in jail for sexual offenses against minors.

    But still. Even the smaller number (the 2% one [which is the one significant figure engineering equivalent of 1.8% or so]) is a number larger than the number of LDS in the United States. It is also one that creates a community of interest that is larger.

    2% = an extended family and community that probably reaches the 10% number or better — especially if gay members do not withdraw but remain members.

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  2. Will on June 6, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    I see the church adopting the Ty Mansfield story.

    http://ldsliving.com/story/68799-our-story-living-with-same-sex-attraction

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  3. jaramiah on June 6, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    People on blogs are trying to analyze the meaning of this march to the nth degree. Why does the question raised by Well Behaved LDS Woman have to be asked? It’s like the marcher who carried the sign bearing the Carol Lynn Pearson lyric “I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you thats how I show my love for you.” If we can’t walk and talk with people, how are we going to carry on the deeper conversation of inviting them to worship? Carrying a sign with an invitation sends the message our ward reactivation efforts tend to send–we just want to be your friend in order to get you to come back to church.

    Reading one gay man’s blog there was, understandably, a lot of criticism about the meaning of the march–ranging from it being a well organized publicity stunt intended to put Mitt Romney in a better light to it being another chance to invite LGBT to draw nearer only to be snubbed and hurt. I also sense some fear in the readers that the participation of an iconically conservative straight group participating such as a group of Mormon’s dressed in church-going clothes is going to transform the Gay Pride movement into something that takes away ownership from it’s core participants. Interesting that the Mormons who worry excessively about whether making friends with Pride Parade participants will open their 3 hour blocks to a similar loss of ownership is a fear cut from a similar cloth.

    I think the statement ‘Mormons Building Bridges’ is ideal as its own statement of the reason for participating. As I commented on another blog, I do find it meaningful that the lyrics of living Legend Carol Lynn Pearson were selected for somebody’s poster. I think she would be pleased and I will feel a deeper meaning to that primary song when I sing it. I have already tried to teach it to my children, as it is not sung in primary often enough. I was hoping to see someone carrying a sign with the lyrics “it’s always fun when granpa comes, when granpa comes, we’re gay!” :)

    As with other successful LDS activities, I envision next year’s MBB entourage to quadruple in size–barring any counsel from church leaders that discourages participation.

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  4. Henry on June 6, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Marching in a gay rights parade.
    Going to a gay bar.
    What about
    Touch Not The Unclean Thing?

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  5. salt h2o on June 6, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    We’re taught to love our neighbor and what I saw was a group trying to show with their actions that they love their neighbors.

    I also think that this is important for any youth or member that is struggling with this issue to know that they are loved by the community they grew up with.

    I see people try to organize similar marches in other cities- but it’s not Utah, to do this in just any gay pride parade is different, and certainly would not be as well received.

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  6. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    #1:

    Stephen, it’s well known that Kinsey’s numbers were skewed by inclusion of large numbers of inmates and prostitutes, but I’ve never heard anyone claim that the inmates were men “in jail for sexual offenses against minors.” Are you certain about that last bit, and do you have a citation? Also, we need to be cognizant that the 10% figure was not actually an estimate of how many men identified as homosexual. Rather, it was an estimate of how many men have, at any time in their lives, had a homosexual sexual experience. Therefore, the 10% includes many who experimented at some isolated incident, but who fully identified as heterosexual. I rarely see anyone claiming anymore that 10% of the population is gay or lesbian.

    #2:
    Will, note that LDSLiving is not an LDS church publication, but rather a privately produced magazine intended for the LDS audience. Ty Mansfield has, of course, gained a great deal of “fame” and traction by publicizing himself and his story. I wish him all the best in his very young marriage, and to the extent that he is truly bisexual, rather than actually gay, his chances of success will be greater. We need to be careful about holding up allegedly “gay” men married to straight women as exemplars, because frankly, these relationships have a divorce rate well beyond the nation’s 50% average. There’s good reason that LDS leaders in recent years have emphasized that marriage to an opposite sex partner is not a “treatment” for homosexuality.

    #4-5:
    Henry, last I heard, you had enormous respect for a man who, contrary to social and religious expectations, sat down to eat on a regular basis with sinners, including publicans and prostitutes. The Pharisees had plenty to say against Jesus for this, but Jesus knew better. Do you really want to be on the side of the Pharisees on this?

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  7. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    re 1,

    Stephen,

    Great comment…especially taking in extended family/community of interest.

    re 2

    Will,

    I can see that happening as well, but isn’t it true that the church in the past advocated that gay members marry people of the opposite sex, but now they don’t do that? I’m happy for everyone in a situation like Ty and Danielle’s who can make it work, but it seems like others experience heartache.

    re 3

    jaramiah,

    What you write about the fear and uncertainty (of Pride being changed, or of church being changed) is intriguing.

    I like what you said here:

    If we can’t walk and talk with people, how are we going to carry on the deeper conversation of inviting them to worship?

    But I wonder how those deeper conversations would work, when it’s basically going to be a shock when someone goes to church for the first time and realizes that their relationships aren’t valued, etc.,

    re 4,

    Henry,

    So, is fellowshipping and reaching out a bad thing?

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  8. salt h2o on June 6, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    @Henry

    How is going to a gay bar worse than going to a normal bar?

    Is going to a gay restaurant o.k.? I had breakfast at one once, it was an accident, I was a naive RM at the time with a bunch of BYU students in Santa Monica. It wasn’t until we were 1/2 way through our french toast that we realized where we were- the most hilarious breakfast experience of my life. Do I need to repent?

    Are homes of homosexual couples also unclean?

    Should we not visit our homosexual neighbors?

    Should we avoid homosexuals in our community for fear that we would be associated with them?

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  9. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Everyone,
    As a result of its heavy involvement with Prop 8 (which, btw, continues because the LDS church is paying for legal defense of Prop 8, DOMA, etc.), the LDS church has frankly become a symbol of homophobic bigotry in the public eye. This public perception appears to have affected missionary work, as measured by baptism rates. In order to combat this public perception, the LDS church is currently spending millions of dollars on a marketing campaign, designed to show the LDS church as “diverse,” welcoming and inclusive. This marketing campaign has faced criticism even within the LDS community, chiefly because most of those appearing in the “I’m a Paid Actor/Model Posing as a Mormon” ads represent “types” who would be ostracized, or at least marginalized, in many LDS congregations. To most people I’ve spoken with, including LDS, these ads ring “Madison Avenue,” rather than genuine. Rather than combatting the new “LDS bigotry” stereotype, they essentially highlight it.

    Now, contrast the march last week in Salt Lake City’s gay pride parade. 300-400 average LDS members made a personal choice to express their genuine tolerance, inclusivity, and human compassion. They didn’t carry signs saying “Change LDS Doctrine to Approve Gay Sex,” nor did anyone expect them to. They carried signs such as “Jesus Says Love Everyone.” Not only that, but they marched while dressed “as Mormons,” demonstrating both their Mormon identity and their convictions regarding their GLBT brothers and sisters. They stood up as who they were. All of this, they did with full knowledge that some of their fellow LDS members would villify and condemn them for “supporting sin” or “not following the prophet.” Read the comments posted in response to the Deseret News article on the march, if you don’t think that would happen. Because they were willing to love, and to demonstrate that love openly, their “fellow saints” attacked them.

    Now, which do you think TRULY had the most effect toward fighting the “Mormons are bigots” stereotype? Million-dollar “inspired” advertisements? Or 300-400 genuine Mormons who were brave enough to stand up publicly for what they believed?

    I can tell you which one was moving and healing for me. (Hint: it wasn’t the one found on local billboards and busses.)

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  10. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Hey everyone…

    I just wanted to say that I would love to keep the discussion about perceptions of Mormons, whether “average” members can change those perceptions, and whether the church will change as a result of these perceptual changes. So far, everyone is doing pretty well…

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  11. Will on June 6, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Nick/Andrew:

    Ty’s story is one of the greatest of all time and it really has nothing to do with same gender attraction. It has everything to do with the atonement of Jesus Christ.
    Jesus Christ can change you no matter what affliction, guilt, sin, desire or tendency that is contrary to God’s will he can heal you. He is the Savior of the world. I look forward to the day with great faith that he can heal my challenges.

    What a great testimony and story from Ty.

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  12. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Will, no story has anything at all to do with so-called “same gender attraction,” since there is no such diagnosis or disorder. It’s a phrase made up by evangelical anti-gay ministries in order to bilk parents out of thousands of dollars to “treat” their children. The fact that some LDS have adopted it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.

    As I said, I hope the best for Ty. With any luck, he will avoid becoming part of the vast majority of mixed-orientation marriages which end painfully for all concerned. At this point, however, his marriage is frankly too young to predict either way.

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  13. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    By the way, Will, just what about Ty’s sexual orientation do you think needs to be “atoned” for? So far as I know, he has never admitted to any sexual contact other than with his wife. Your own church leaders claim not to consider homosexual attraction a sin in itself, ergo it requires no “atonement.” Or is this just one of those issues where you secretly disagree with your own church leaders, thinking they’re not harsh enough on the topic?

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  14. Will on June 6, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Nick,

    Ty’s story offers real hope; not the fleeting, temporary Obama style hope that is short lived and eventually translates into despair, but real life altering change offered through the atonement. Read the article and Ty describes this life altering change that he experienced.

    I am not of the Henry camp and think this is a chosen lifestyle or desire. Nick, we both know Henry will one day have someone that he knows, loves and respects communicate their same gender attraction. Cleary, people are born with this tendency, just as some are born with the propensity for violence, or some are predisposed for chemical dependency, or a wandering eye, etc.

    This is where Jesus comes in with his atonement. He can take away any unnatural or unholy tendencies, predispositions, desires or acts. We are born with these tendencies so we turn to him and realize our nothingness. He is the Savior of the world. He has done it for me, not will all off my evil tendencies, but enough to persuade me to be a true follower.

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  15. Will on June 6, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Henry,

    The first presidency has acknowledged people are born with same gender attraction, so if I were you I would be more considerate to those that struggle with these tendencies. I know several LDS people (some that are married), that struggle deeply with this issue. They are good, honorable and decent people; even some that have strayed into unhealthy sexual acts.

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  16. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    OK, really.

    Can we get back on the topic?

    Hmm…I’ll try something different…

    re 14

    Will,

    OK, so you say Ty’s story offers real hope, not fleeting hope that is short-lived and eventually translates to despair? But how do you promote that message? And how do you try to advertise that message to those for whom the church’s message has been the source of despair for them? Or for whom mixed orientation marriages have been fleeting hope that has not lasted? For people who do not consider their orientation anything like “the propensity for violence” or the predisposition “for chemical dependency.”

    How do you convince people that their feelings about their own well-beings are incorrect?

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  17. Will on June 6, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Where did we get off topic?

    “But how do you promote that message”

    God does through the light of Christ and Holy Spirit. Both are dimmed by inappropriate activity. Some are not ready and will not want to change. Remember, recognition is the first step of repentance.

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  18. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    “…recognition is the first step of repentance.”

    So if you don’t think you’re a screwed up mess, you just haven’t repented yet! Note that this never applies to yourself! It only applies to all those OTHER people, the ones who aren’t like you!

    Because after all, if you figured out that it was actually the openly gay people who were right all along about what they felt and experienced, then you’d be making a realization—a realization that was the first step in your repentance. And you already know that you don’t need any repentance, right?

    Funny how these things work!

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  19. Rigel Hawthorne on June 6, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    “I wonder how those deeper conversations would work, when it’s basically going to be a shock when someone goes to church for the first time and realizes that their relationships aren’t valued, etc.”

    I agree that those deeper conversations would have different ending points for different individuals. I don’t know that there is anyone who doesn’t already know of the LDS organizational view regarding homosexual relationships that they would be shocked. There are those who do choose to come worship in spite of feeling that their relationships are not valued. Perhaps extended family who has not come to a church meeting for awhile may want to be there for a cultural reason–like a baby blessiong, and know that their friends from the parade might be in the same ward. Those who have left the church very likely have no interest in coming back as members, but may want to be invited.

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  20. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    re 17,

    Will,

    I think comments 11 – 15, 17 and 18 are straying off topic.

    This post isn’t so much about whether homosexuality is right or wrong, sinful or not, but about things like public perception, tipping points in attitudes, etc.,

    So, I asked you to explain how you would promote particular messages, because promotion relates to public perception. Your answer is that God will do it…but do you see how there’s not really much room to discuss things further from here? We can speak about what people do, but not so much about what God will do — God’s not really a participant in discussions like these, after all.

    re 18,

    Nick,

    I know you try to reach out to Will often, and Will probably back to you. But can we please not do it here, in this discussion?

    I liked your comment in 9.

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  21. Will on June 6, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Andrew,

    I think comments 11 – 15, 17 and 18 are on topic.

    Nick,

    I found Ty’s story inspiring. He felt conflicted and suicidal and bitter and angry and hopeless and found hope in Jesus Christ.

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  22. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Will,
    I understand that you find Ty’s story affirming of your spiritual beliefs. As a follower of Jesus Christ, who above all taught us to follow (1) deity, and (2) our fellow humans, what do you feel is your best way to reach out in christ-like love to gay men and lesbians in your community?

    Do you believe that the only way you can show them love is to repeatedly insist that they follow the dictates of your particular faith? Or do you believe there are other ways in which you can reach out to them in ways which honor their agency and exemplify the Jesus you want to follow?

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  23. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    re 21,

    Will,

    Well, it appears we disagree. And since I kinda wrote the original post, I don’t see what else I can do but say that these are not on topic. I have offered some questions you can try to answer to get back on topic.

    Or, how about some other questions…I think Nick’s questions in 22 are good. So, you’ve stated your feelings…but what do you think is the best way to reach out? Do you think that what the church and members are currently doing is working? If not, then what needs to change? If so, are you happy with the number of gay members in the church, staying, joining, or leaving?

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  24. remlap on June 6, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    “…I’ve seen people go so far as to analyze the photos of the marchers and check to see whether clothes worn would be plausible with garments.”

    I find that kind of creepy and I am not sure why they would do that. Does the participation of a temple endowed member have greater significance than a non-endowed member?

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  25. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    remlap, I think the implication was that certain LDS are examining the photos for evidence to support their theory that these were not members of the LDS church, but rather “outsiders” posing as LDS members in order to embarass the LDS church, etc.

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  26. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    re 24,

    remlap,

    Nick got it. So, the big idea is that these are active, church-going members. But if most of the participants are inactive, non-church-going, etc., then that’s not all that impressive. I guess checking clothes is one way to try to size up how Mormon the group really is?

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  27. remlap on June 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Nick,

    That makes more sense I guess and is a little less creepy. I was thinking they were trying to identify individual members for questioning. I am getting too cynical in my old age

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  28. CL on June 6, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    remlap – “Does the participation of a temple endowed member have greater significance than a non-endowed member?”

    I think for many it does. I couldn’t help but notice when I first saw the photos that a large portion of the men weren’t wearing white shirts and many of the women had exposed shoulders. I think it’s an unfortunate reality that there will be many members who automatically question the faith or obedience of those protesters because they have identified themselves by their choice of clothing as being willing to disregard the counsel of the brethren.

    While I find that attitude detestable, a part of me wishes that the protesters would have chosen different clothes so as to not automatically weaken their message. Although, maybe those members that will judge based on clothing choices are not going to be swayed either way.

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  29. Henry on June 6, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    Will:
    Having members march in these parades is not a good thing. How can it be good?

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  30. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Henry:
    Having Jesus dine with sinners is not a good thing, said the Pharisees and Saduccees. How could it be good?

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  31. Henry on June 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Nick, Nick, Nick.

    Crafty, aren’t you?

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  32. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Henry, Henry, Henry.

    Avoiding the question because you’ve painted yourself into an obvious corner, aren’t you?

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  33. Andrew S on June 6, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    re 31,

    Henry,

    I’d be interested in your answer to Nick’s question.

    Can we all refrain from saying each other’s name three times in a row? This isn’t Beetlejuice…

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  34. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Yeah…and I have plans this weekend. I don’t have time to suddenly appear in Henry’s living room. LOL!

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  35. Scott Nicholson on June 6, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Minor clarification re: Nick’s characterization of LDS Living as “a privately produced magazine intended for the LDS audience” (in #6)…

    It’s true that it’s not a publication of LDS, Inc. (like Ensign and New Era), but it’s published by Deseret Book, which is wholly owned by the church. I think it can still be considered at least pseudo-official (especially as most members will see it as such).

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  36. NewlyHousewife on June 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    At least within my circle of friends (which is completely bias), the majority don’t really care either way for the same sex marriage arguments. Only one or two quote the current church lines.

    So I don’t think the minority are gaining speed more than the majority are brushing it off, placing it on a shelf next to polygamy and walking away for a bit.

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  37. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Interesting, Scott! I know that just 6-7 years ago, it was clearly a privately-owned company. DB must have bought them out. Thanks for the clarification!

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  38. Nick Literski on June 6, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Hmmm…despite being a “division of Deseret Book,” they have the following disclaimer on their website:
    “LDS Living Magazine is an independent work, and is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed in the magazine are the responsibility of the various authors and do not necessarily represent the positions of the Church. Contributors include Church members and members of other faiths.”

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  39. Paul on June 6, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Note: LDS members will forever vote against same sex marriage while professing love and acceptance (“forked tongue approach”). To proactively accept LBGTs and their lifestyle(s) goes against the very foundation of a core belief in the “traditional” (man/wife/kids) family unit. That very family unit is one of THE main selling points of LDS doctrine. Only a prophetic revelation (i.e. political pressure) from their god will change this because mormonism IS NOT A DEMOCRACY.

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  40. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 6, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Nick, here is a quick link. I’m linking to it only because it was easy to find:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/duke/041202

    The Wikipedia article is a hash, changing constantly still.

    To quote from the Wiki on the reports (vs. the Wiki on Kinsey)

    “he reports also state that nearly 46% of the male subjects had “reacted” sexually to persons of both sexes in the course of their adult lives, and 37% had at least one homosexual experience.[7] 11.6% of white males (ages 20–35) were given a rating of 3 (about equal heterosexual and homosexual experience/response) throughout their adult lives.[8] The study also reported that 10% of American males surveyed were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55″ (in the 5 to 6 range).[9]”

    “Critics have raised concerns about the methodology used to collect data, including that data in the reports could not have been obtained without collaborations with child molesters.[3] The Kinsey Institute denies this charge, though it acknowledges that men who have had sexual experiences with children were interviewed, with Kinsey balancing what he saw as the need for their anonymity to solicit “honest answers on such taboo subjects” against the likelihood that their crimes would continue.[4][5] Additionally, concerns over the sample populations used were later addressed by the Kinsey Institute, and the conclusion was that none of Kinsey’s original estimates were significantly affected by these data sources.[6]”

    So, Kinsey’s institute still stands behind the following numbers “The results were summarized by historian, playwright, and gay-rights activist Martin Duberman, “Instead of Kinsey’s 37% (men who had at least one homosexual experience), Gebhard and Johnson came up with 36.4%; the 10% figure (men who were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55″), with prison inmates excluded, came to 9.9% for white, college-educated males and 12.7% for those with less education.[6]”

    Interesting material.

    I’m biased as I still remember watching an interview of a child who had been abused for years while the institute received reports from her father and never intervened or called the police and refused to turn over or destroy the records.

    Anyway, enough on that side point.

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  41. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Yeah…and I have plans this weekend. I don’t have time to suddenly appear in Henry’s living room. LOL!

    How can that be?!

    ;)

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  42. jaramiah on June 6, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    “a large portion of the men weren’t wearing white shirts”

    Actually, I believe the marchers in the front row may be trying to form a rainbow with their shirt colors. I saw a lot of white shirts in the middle ranks.

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  43. Stephen M ( ethesis ) on June 6, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Jar — good point.

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  44. Stephen M ( ethesis ) on June 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Since we are sliding off topic a little, I would note that at least one non-LDS point of coverage is treating the MBB movement as a ploy by the official LDS Church to improve its image. I can’t wait to twit Kamai about being an LDS tool. ;)

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  45. Douglas on June 6, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    We are commanded to be charitable and love those that are not easy to love. I suspect that far more than the few hundred the pro-Gay rally have quietly shown compassion and understanding to LGBT members (and former members) in spite of the terrific disappointment and offense that has been heaped upon them. And these same “compassionate” straight members wouldn’t think it a burden. They’d think to do things no other way because they love the errant person.
    We could, myself included, improve on the skill of despising the sin but loving the sinner. We should remember that we have as much need of the Atonement as those whose sexual inclinations we decry. And their continued existence on this rock is proof that “Gawd” hasn’t turned his back on LGBT people, so neither should we.

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  46. NewlyHousewife on June 6, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    “Hate the sin, not the sinner” is a round about way of saying “I hate what makes you you”; which doesn’t clarify where the sin ends and the sinner begins.

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  47. Bonnie on June 6, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Only in practice, NH. I hate abuse. I hate murders perpetrated on women who have yet to develop the courage to escape their abusers. I hate child molestation. I can hate those things after living through some of them and I can love the sinner, even the ones who perpetrated them. It’s a good thing to hate the sin and love the sinner. How people do that is as varied as faces on this planet, but the principle is sound.

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  48. Henry on June 7, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    Nick:
    Do you think Jesus was there when the prostitutes or other “sinners” where doing their thing? Right there in the room? Obviously not. When Christ went to the spirit world for 3 days, he organized the missionary forces to preach the gospel to those who he could not personally go because they had defiled themselves while in the flesh. Defiled themselves while in the flesh. Nick, what do you think that means? Pretty strong statement. It’s not a good idea for members to go to gay bars to pride parades. This sends the message that this type of behavior is okay. So the answer to the question is no.

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  49. Henry on June 7, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Nick and anyone else:
    No one on this blog is sin free. The prophets and apostles and the scriptures are here with us on earth to help us to avoid the pitfalls of mortality.

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  50. Will on June 7, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Henry,

    There are very few times in the scriptures where the Savior got upset – really upset. The most notable example is the temple scene, but the more impactful time was his condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees who were a very pious people. They attended church faithfully, fed the poor, attended the temple and recited scripture religiously. However, in the 23rd chapter of Matthew the Savior let them have it because (Matthew 23:23) they overlooked the weightier matters of the law of “judgment, mercy and faith”

    With respect to those that struggle with same gender attraction, I have learned to withhold judgment. Some of the people that live the best lives I know (way better than me) have confessed their struggles with this issue – some that are married. I have learned to have mercy and understanding towards them and their struggle. Most of all, I have learned to have faith in them and allow them to wrestle with this issue without demeaning or degrading comments. They need our love and support, not our condemnation and criticism. I offer a plea and request you do the same.

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  51. Will on June 7, 2012 at 7:58 AM

    Nick,

    Just the Pharisees, not the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the ruling class much like the Democratic Party of today. They preached helping the poor and needy, but really exploited the poor and needy for their own political gain. Kinda like exchanging dependency checks for votes – building a dependency class to keep themselves in power.

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  52. Mike S on June 7, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    1 thought and a question:

    With all of this talk about “motives” of the Pride movement, Mormons supporting it, etc., maybe it’s simply just people seeing what they perceive as an injustice and reacting to it, and nothing else. During the civil rights movement in the US that led to the 1978 change in policy, there were church leaders who taught that it was a communist-inspired plot to weaken the government. Yet we now have a black president (granted – some people may say that Obama has weakened the government, but that’s not because of his race).

    And second a question for everyone on here: Does anyone think that the church will ever take the stand where all LEGAL marriage is treated equal: ie. NO sexual relations before marriage, complete fidelity after marriage. The Church could still obviously ban people from getting sealed in the temple to a homosexual partner, but could a person who was chaste before marriage and faithful after marriage to a member of the same sex be accepted in the average ward or branch?

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  53. NewlyHousewife on June 7, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Bonnie, all of the things you listed are direct actions that one is not born with and can be held legally responsible. Abusers are not born to be abusers, and as long as someone speaks up abusers can go to jail for their crimes.

    I was referring to using the same phrase against gay and lesbians. They’re born gay, being gay is not a crime anywhere in the United States, and saying you hate the sin not the sinner in regards to a person’s sexual attraction does no help in clarifying where my taste in men ends and I begin.

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  54. Will on June 7, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    “And second a question for everyone on here: Does anyone think that the church will ever take the stand where all LEGAL marriage is treated equal: ie. NO sexual relations before marriage, complete fidelity after marriage. The Church could still obviously ban people from getting sealed in the temple to a homosexual partner, but could a person who was chaste before marriage and faithful after marriage to a member of the same sex be accepted in the average ward or branch?”

    excellent analysis

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  55. Bonnie on June 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    NH – I would gently remind you that few of us escape the strictures of some kind of “born that way.” Figures vary, but most people incarcerated, especially for violent crimes, suffer from untreated mental illnesses, and many of those have been shown to have a genetic component. We are all struggling with things that make our lives difficult and which make it challenging to separate us from what we do, think, hope, and want.

    The power of “hate the sin, love the sinner” is to place a line that separates behavior that we can control and the complex person we are, especially when that includes the person we can’t control. According to the LDS faith, acting on a desire to be with someone is different from a desire to be with someone, just as acting on anger toward someone is different from feeling anger toward someone. We deal with our thoughts, desires, and motivations in love with one another if we are saints, no matter how uncomfortably different those may be. Pedophilia is pretty uncomfortable for some, and homosexuality is pretty comfortable for others. That simple phrase challenges us to get better in loving.

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  56. Andrew S on June 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    re 36,

    NewlyHousewife,

    Do you think that’s a shift in the majority though…that they may have once felt strongly one way or another about gay marriage, but *now* they are brushing it off, putting it on the shelf, etc.? I think it’s the *shift* in attitudes that’s really important here.

    re 44,

    Stephen,

    I have seen that sort of commentary popping up as well. It’s always interesting to see things from non-LDS perspectives, because those reactions can often be VERY different than LDS ones…

    re 49,

    Henry,

    I don’t think that anyone is claiming to be sin-free (although I think there will be some quibbles about what things are sinful…but that’s off-topic)…rather, the real issue is, if we’re trying to *improve* and *repent* and encourage others to do the same, then what’s the best way to get that message out? I am reminded of the message: “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    re 50, 51

    Will,

    I liked comment 50, didn’t like comment 51 as much. Did you really have to make comparisons to modern political parties? Can you refrain from doing that in this discussion?

    re 52,

    Mike S,

    Simple explanations are boring ones, Mike ;).

    As for your question, I think that would be progress if they did. I don’t know if that will happen — because the church seems to be against any sort of homosexual expression, no matter if it is expressed in a committed marriage or not. However, I can see the church making such a policy shift if/when gay marriage becomes legal in more states/countries.

    re 53,

    NewlyHousewife,

    One could argue that each of those things could have biological/inborn aspects (e.g., inclination to violence. Inclination to be attracted to children.) In any case, the “sin” is acting upon those inclination — and that’s where the church’s position on homosexuality is right now, right?

    I mean, I agree that often, the whole rhetoric of “hate the sin; love the sinner” goes wrong, but I think ultimately in this case the argument is that what is considered a sin (in this case) shouldn’t be.

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  57. annegb on June 7, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Jana’s assertion is born out in my circle of friends. Perceptions change when it becomes personal, when it’s your loved one who is gay. And many of us are dealing with the realization that our son or daughter or grandchild or sibling is gay. I’ve noticed a shell-shocked appearance as we realize our loved one is still loveable and loved and themselves! despite their homosexuality. Now, you have to understand the generational experience of heterosexuals vs homosexual of my baby boom generation. I’m not minimizing or excusing, but it is a hard reality.

    Many of my friends have tears in their eyes as they struggle with confusion that wasn’t present when the issue had no personal implications. It’s real easy to condemn when it’s that weird gay hairdresser who you’ve seen once or twice; not so easy when it’s your otherwise-totally-normal nephew. (No offense to anyone with the use of the word normal, it’s a literary device, I think).

    Suddenly, sinful and bad aren’t the first words in your vocabulary in reference to same sex attraction. And a lot of us are like I said, simply shell-shocked. Trying to deal with what is, forget trying to label and categorize it.

    I’m amused at those clothes checkers as if gay people would try to dress up like “normal” Mormons to perpetuate a fraud. Who has time to work that hard?

    I blogged about this on MM—still fairly clueless what I’d do if the situation presented itself here in little old Cedar City. But I do know this: a LOT of my friends would want to march, but they might not have the courage to do so. Like my spineless self.

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  58. Will on June 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Did you really have to make comparisons to modern political parties? Yes, per Nephi “Liken the scriptures unto us”

    Can you refrain from doing that in this discussion? NO

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  59. Bonnie on June 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Agreed, Andrew. The thing is, we can talk all we want about changes in policy and whether or not they come about because of social pressure, but changes in what is or is not considered a sin happen infrequently, if ever. We have statements (especially early in the dispensation) from the brethren about racial intermarriage, for example, but I’ve never seen documentation of church action against individuals who chose to proceed anyway. I land on the side of a disinclination to expect change in the definition of sin in regards to homosexuality, even if legal status changes for gay marriage. As a private organization, churches are allowed to determine the conditions of membership, which I think is why the church is careful to protect its freedom as a private organization to do exactly that. I don’t see changes coming. The church has already demonstrated its willingness to stand against social mores until direct revelation indicates a change.

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  60. Will on June 7, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    annegb

    Great comment.

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  61. Douglas on June 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    To answer “Newlyhousewife”…you’re confusing sexual inclination or orientation versus actions: the former, which I won’t concede entirely as being one’s identify, is NOT a sin. That’s no different than me having the hits for a woman that I’m not married to but refrain from acting upon. None of us should be enslaved to our passion. It’s sexual activity, outside the bounds of marriage as the Lord has set forth, whether gay o straight, that is sin. Many LDS, even in high positions, seem likewise confused. The Stake President of a good lady friend would not at first grant her a temple recommend even though she’d kept the law of chastity because she admitted having lesbian inclinations and still having dyke friends. It took nearly a year before he was persuaded to sign the recommend.

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  62. Henry on June 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Will:
    There is a war going on. In general, I agree with most of what you say but life is often very at you in your face and so truth can be like that. It’s much better to take some heat here in mortality than have someone point there finger at you in the next life and say that you never said anything.

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  63. Andrew S on June 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    re 57,

    annegb,

    Thanks for the thoughts…very poignant…and I definitely encourage everyone here to check out your post at Mormon Mentality.

    re 58,

    Will,

    If you cannot use your own agency to refrain, I’m very sorry to hear that. I’m sorry that you are unwilling or unable to follow basic standards of participating in a community.

    re 59,

    Bonnie,

    I guess I feel like there are several ways to go with this. So, suppose that the church will continue to believe that homosexuality is a sin. Yeah, I think that’s a pretty likely outcome. But to the extent that it defines conditions of membership based on this sin and excludes and excommunicates or prevents members from joining who are in gay relationships, then it is shutting these people out. Is the goal of the church to make a safe haven for people who already are righteous, or to reach out to those who are sinners? Or are some sins OK enough to still allow someone to be members, and others not?

    At some level, if there is a goal to make gay members feel loved and appreciated — even if the church views them as sinners — then making their sin a dealbreaker when it comes to membership doesn’t seem very consistent with that role. Saying, “We’re all sinners” doesn’t seem to work, when most people’s sins don’t put them in jeopardy of their membership.

    so, I think to the question Mike asked:

    And second a question for everyone on here: Does anyone think that the church will ever take the stand where all LEGAL marriage is treated equal: ie. NO sexual relations before marriage, complete fidelity after marriage. The Church could still obviously ban people from getting sealed in the temple to a homosexual partner, but could a person who was chaste before marriage and faithful after marriage to a member of the same sex be accepted in the average ward or branch?

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  64. Bonnie on June 7, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    I’ll try this again (comment disappearance).

    To answer Mike’s question, we already have this situation in 6 states, California for a limited time period of marriages solemnized, DC, and a couple of Indian tribes. What is the instruction to local leaders in those areas? What is the instruction given internationally? The Feds got out of the marriage business with DOMA (and it could be argued much earlier with commerce) so it’s already geographically specific.

    To address Andrew’s question, I think that’s a valid question for us to ask of our membership, to be continually in tension with the need going all the way back to Alma to establish some kind of boundary to membership (i.e. it means to nothing to belong if there are no conditions in which one could not belong.) I am more familiar with the intricacies of membership for cons and ex-cons than for gays because my work has taken me there, and though I recognize that there are considerable differences between the two, there is pain, alienation, prejudice, and fear in both. I think the Lord charged us to go to the dispossessed and that’s not changed, but it was also his voice that established boundaries. I figure my job is to be nice and I’m glad I’m not in charge of the boundaries.

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  65. LovelyLauren on June 7, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    I think vocal minorities play a huge part in in bottom-up movements. Seeing people in SLC participating in a pride parade who are just as Mormon as I am makes me a little less afraid of being open about my own beliefs on gay marriage and I know I’m not the only person out there who feels closeted (pun intended) in their beliefs. So even if it IS a minority, I would like to think that their volume is what is getting us somewhere.

    At the same time, I am really disparaged by the criticism (like from WBMW) who use language like “active members” and “fringe groups.” I think it’s harmful and disenfranchising.

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  66. jaramiah on June 7, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Pride parades mean different things to different people. It would be useful to check that gut reaction to equate participation with complicity in licentiousness. If many of the colorful elements are stripped away, you have the ‘community’ as the bottom line. Sure many participants attend for other reasons, but we have obese, diabetic men joining the ice cream consumption after the Priesthood broadcast, which they shouldn’t be doing. That doesn’t mean obese, diabetic men shouldn’t attend Priesthood broadcasts. Well Behaved LDS Woman blogged that although she would wouldn’t advocate marching in a pride parade, she would show her support by talking to LGBT persons who came to church. I don’t see that as being a very effective outreach technique.

    Now for me personally, as a Mormon guy with suppressed SGA, or bisexuality, whatever you want to call it, I have my own reservations for avoiding a Pride Parade. It would be a bit like an alcoholic attending a beer party on a hot summer day. It is not easy for me as a bisexual man to feel that comfortable surrounded by masses of gay men anyway. It’s like being submerged underwater for so long and needing to come up for air. Nevertheless, those who are flaunting their ‘bodies by Jake’ would have an effect.

    I wouldn’t want to wave the rainbow flag if I was to march in a parade. My own experience has conditioned my response to that symbol to expect to see homoerotic porn. It is reminiscent of seeing those rainbow banners hanging at the entrances to clothing optional resorts that have outdoor mazes and themed areas for various (unmentionable) activities. I have brought that conditioning upon myself. I am glad that Mormons can look at the Pride Parade’s rainbow flags and be blissfully unaware of the mental connections to hedonism that my past behaviors have wired in my brain.

    I don’t even like to bring this up. I’ve put it behind me with my own transformation into the family guy that is the man I always wanted to be. I pray for strength from time to time, not as often as I used to, confessing that I am powerless to do this without God’s help. Talking about the issue is a bit like Christopher Reeve in Somewhere In Time that became totally absorbed into his life in a past time, only to see a sudden grim reminder in the form of a penny from his other time that took his mind off of his new life and caused him to flashback to the former. I wouldn’t want to have my story published in a book, but more power to Brother Mansfield.

    If I was to go to a Pride Parade, I would want to be in the safety of a group like MBB. (Even though they were dubiously placed in the front of the parade by organizers for reasons that may not be consistent with the group’s goals). If the church somehow changes its stance on homosexual marriages and sexual activities, I wonder where this would leave men like me. I’m truly grateful I found marriage and family within the traditional family relationships that were my ideal since childhood. It was a more difficult journey getting there, and if the value on traditional family had not been there, I never would have persisted in that journey. I suppose stories like mine and Brother Mansfield’s would eventually die out and become extinct.

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  67. Henry on June 7, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Find another method to reach out other than attending parades or going to gay bars. Sends the wrong message.

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  68. LDS Anarchist on June 7, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    Andrew #63 wrote:

    Is the goal of the church to make a safe haven for people who already are righteous, or to reach out to those who are sinners? Or are some sins OK enough to still allow someone to be members, and others not?

    Church membership is for repentant sinners only. We preach faith unto repentance, and those who repent we baptize. If anyone sins after being baptized, they are expected to repent of their sins or they must be expelled. It doesn’t matter what the sin is. Any sin, whatsoever, that a man or a woman refuses to repent of, is and can be grounds for excommunication. The law of witnesses (two or more) is the means the Lord has provided to remove unrepentant sinners from the church. If the church knowingly allows an unrepentant sinner to remain in the church, the church itself becomes unjustified before the Lord, bringing condemnation upon the entire church.

    So, to answer your question, no, there are no sins that are OK enough to allow people to remain members. If you sin and refuse to repent, and two or three witnesses testify that you sinned and refused to repent, the church must expel you.

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  69. Brian on June 7, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Somebody “liked” #68? You’re kidding, right?

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  70. Andrew S on June 8, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    re 68,

    LDS Anarchist,

    It seems to me that we should probably be expelling a lot more people, then.

    re 69

    Brian,

    68 was a whole lot more substantial comment than what you drafted up for 69. Please work on improving in the future.

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  71. Brian on June 8, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    #68 is so blatantly absurd not only do I not agree with it, I wouldn’t waste time developing a response to it. Is that substantial enough?

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  72. Andrew S on June 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    re 71,

    Brian,

    If you wouldn’t waste time developing a response to it, then you wouldn’t comment at all.

    Take a break, man. You don’t have to press the “post comment” button every time you put something in the text box.

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  73. Trev on June 9, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    Jaramiah,

    Thanks for sharing. You’re comment’s very interesting to me.

    When I read from you and others in similar situations the question: “If the church somehow changes its stance on homosexual marriages and sexual activities, I wonder where this would leave men like me,” I always wonder, doesn’t it just leave you in the same place you are? I mean, if the Church changed, it’s not like the nature of your marriage or family life would change at all.

    Once I heard someone in a support group in your situation say so much as, “If the Church changed, I would be so angry I’d leave it.” I don’t know… I just always thought that we do good and work righteousness for the blessings inherent in it. That’s what motivated my teaching on the mission and my ongoing staying with the Church (faithfully) despite my own homosexuality. I get definite blessings from it that, so far at least, whose loss couldn’t be compensated for–for me–by the gain of leaving or “acting out.”

    Still, as I’m always reevaluating where I’m at, I can’t help but think that if in cases like this where people just wait for the “permission” of the Church to “sin” and would feel like they were missing something vitally important if the Church policy changed and they found themselves in their current situation… then based on my own experience of commandments and blessings and how they work in life, I can’t help but think something *might* be wrong with our conception of sin…

    What do you think? Would it be a hardship for you if the Church suddenly “allowed,” say, monogamous long-term homosexual relationships? If so, why? Aren’t there inherent blessings in a traditional family structure that make it worth it?

    I fear I sound terribly accusatory and kind of mean with this line of questioning. I don’t mean to, and don’t respond if you don’t want to. These questions are just very relevant to me as a single gay Mormon man who feels like he’s stagnating in life.

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  74. jaramiah on June 9, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    I don’t find your questions accusatory or mean at all. Thanks for asking. No, I wouldn’t be angry or leave the church if such a change was made. The inherent blessings have been reward enough for me. I HAD been taught in sociology in college that if you were attracted to men the solution was to learn about being gay and accept it. I had been told by well-meaning gay acquaintances that at my age, if I hadn’t sought out and experienced a sexual relationship with a woman, that I had to be gay. I had been told by others that if I would just ‘come out’, things would be so much better for me. I did feel anger, after being married to my wife, that I had started to believe those messages as being true for me. I’m not angry anymore about it now, as I have had time to better understand my sexuality, but I do occasionally comment on a couple of blogs just so others know that my experience exists.

    If the church were to allow monogamous homosexual relationships, it wouldn’t pose a theologic hardship for me. My values in life were set by my own socialization and included a high importance on having biologic posterity and not bringing up children in a relationship without a mother—a feeling that I wouldn’t want to deprive my children of the type of relationship that I have had with my mother and the blessing it has been to me in my life. I recognize that others (with same gender attraction but not totally gay)who have not been brought up to place that high degree of importance on those life experiences are not going to feel fulfilled with a heterosexual relationship like I am. I also understand gay men/women do not have the choice like I discovered that I did. I DO want be part of a forever family that includes my gay brothers and sisters, and I believe that a LDS theology for their place can be included. Seeing that enactment would also mean letting go and, even perhaps, grieving for the simpler understanding of family that I had learned in youth.

    If my children come to me someday and say they are gay, I will hug them and love them and do what it takes to keep all of our family as a forever family. If they are gay leaning bisexual, my life experience would tell them that suppressing that and finding a heterosexual relationship that comes with all the values I was seeking can be worth the effort. Raising them in a new era with different social messages, however, may make my own experience sound like Dana Carvey’s ‘Grumpy Old Man’ from Saturday Night Live.

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  75. N. on June 10, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    fewer than 5 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian.

    I am constantly amazed at how loud and influential this “fewer than 5%” is and how much energy, treasure, and political capitol is expended for their interests. I’m not judging whether it’s a good or bad thing. I’m just saying that the sense of proportion here seems really out of balance.

    Compare left-handed people: approx 10% of Americans. 2x the people. *Millions* more people. How much more of our society would be changed in their behalf if they got the same proportional energy for their interests as gay people get for theirs. It’s a thought experiment that somehow goes “tilt” for me.

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  76. Andrew S on June 10, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    re 75,

    N,

    As was mentioned by Stephen in the first comment, an important point to mention is the role of allies — families and friends of LGBT individuals…that definitely impacts the loudness and influence.

    Of course, maybe I could also point out that Mormons are really small percentage of the population, yet frequently, Mormons hit the political and social scene more than you would expect.

    But going with your thought experiment…it would be interesting to see how left people galvanize to have their handedness recognized in societies that traditionally favor right-handedness…in the past, people had their left-handedness beaten out of them…even today, some cultures cannot really accommodate left-handed folks (someone mentioned to me that there is simply not an accepted way for lefthanded individuals to write Chinese characters…I wonder if there are any movements to try to change that?)

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  77. [...] know” option…), then that to me suggests quite interesting things. (Keep in mind that tipping points can require far less than a majority…) Belief, as it were, can coexist pretty flexibly with unbelief. I’m not quite saying [...]

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