Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Momentous Decision

I have been thinking about something a lot lately and I think I have made my decision about it now.

Bittersweetly, my tenure at BYU is coming to a close and this will be my last semester. I am going to transfer to the University of Washington in Seattle.

I feel very good about this choice. Immediately after realizing this is what I want to do, I felt a large weight lifted from my shoulders. I suppose I still might decide to finish out Winter semester here at BYU, but I think the sooner I transfer the easier it will be. Having 4 full semesters before transferring begins to make it difficult.

But I truly do feel good about this and am looking forward to heading back to my homeland. It's time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lies Surrounding Prop 8 and Arguments Against it (from my Facebook)

I originally wrote this as a note that I posted on Facebook, but it has been forever since I have posted on here, so I'm putting it up here also. Although most of my blog readers are also on Facebook and have probably already seen it.

After reading the responses to my last note, I have realized how much complete misinformation about Prop 8 is being spread.

It is true that California does have the most extensive system of domestic partnerships and Prop 8 does not legally change very much for same sex couples. Regardless, there are still many myths being circulated among volunteers that are not only unfounded and untrue (it takes very little research to put each of these myths to rest), but are a form of scare tactics, which are sadly working quite well. It is a sad day when the "Yes on 8" people resort to lies and the spreading of fear as a sort of last stand against gay marriages. I have heard some people even citing General Authorities as believing in some of these myths, which just about makes me want to vomit.

No matter what happens in November, there will be large groups of people who are upset and/or hurt. The 1st and 14th Amendments are in a very, very precarious dance and even the slightest change could tip the scales. Certainly religion will not go completely unaffected if gay marriage is allowed to continue, but I seriously doubt it will be a drastic change for the worse.

Lets begin by looking at a few of the untruths, and then I will link you to sources that more fully discuss the issues, which you should look at if you are planning on voting in good conscious in November.

Churches may be sued over their tax-exempt status if they refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their buildings.
This is theoretically and potentially possible, but will almost certainly not occur. In order to do this, the IRS would have to prove that the LDS Church's stance is not in harmony with public interest and is completely at odds with the community conscience, so far so that any benefit that the Church provides to society is completely undermined. It is extremely unlikely that the IRS would take or succeed in such an action.
Additionally, the Church is not forced to marry same-sex couples in Massachusetts, where gay marriage has been legal for some time now. The Church is not forced to allow, say, Jehovah's Witnesses to marry in our temples. The temples aren't open to the public to begin with. No, legalizing gay marriage will not result in the Church's loss of tax breaks.

Churches will be forced to marry same sex couples even if they don't want to.
This is taken directly from page of 117 the Court’s decision. "Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."
Well, there goes that myth.

But if we legalize gay marriage, next polygamy will have to be legal! Then people will want to marry animals next!
This is a prime example of the fallacy of the slippery slope. Also, Mormons should be the very last group to make this argument. Who wants to marry an animal anyways? Could the animal sign the wedding certificate? Need I go on?

Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage.
Regarding curriculum in California, the law states:

  • Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships.
  • Instruction and materials shall be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and pupils with disabilities.
  • Instruction and materials shall be age appropriate.
  • All factual information presented shall be medically accurate and objective.
  • Instruction and materials shall encourage a pupil to communicate with his or her parents or guardians about human sexuality.

There is little evidence any of this will change regardless of the outcome of the vote. Teaching respect for marriage and committed relationships, and teaching about the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood are good lessons for students regardless of sexual orientation.
Plus, God forbid a homosexual child might grow up thinking his/her future relationships might be legitimate. God forbid a young homosexual child might grow up without all the pain and self-loathing that comes with being gay. A gay child allowed to be open and authentic from the beginning? Unthinkable! God forbid that the next generation of children will not grow up being prejudiced towards homosexuals.

In their letter to the members of California in June, the First Presidency said, "In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing the '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." This seems to imply large distaste for the Courts. May I point out that perhaps it is part of the duty of the courts to overrule the people when the actions they are taking and voting for are discriminatory?

During one of the lectures in my LDS Marriage and Family class, we learned that 100% of marriages not performed in the Temple end in divorce (upon death, the pair is no longer bound). While I don't believe that,it is the line of Mormon thought. Continuing down that path, it would seem to mean that a heterosexual marriage and a homosexual marriage not performed in the temple would have equal eternal worth: none. So after you pass Prop 8, please try to legislate it so that no one who is not LDS can marry at all, since it doesn't matter anyways. (Note my facetiousness.)

We must ‘preserve the traditional marriage and family’ and ‘children deserve to grow up with traditional parents.”
First of all, the notion of a “traditional family” is a bit of an illusion. What tradition? Where? Early 19th century traditional marriages when married women had no legal standing, could not own property, sign contracts, or legally control any earned wages? ‘Traditional’ LDS marriages involving more than one bride? Did you know that even today there are more polygamous societies than monogamous? The purposes of marriage vary greatly over cultures and short periods of time.
If I, as a single gay man were to adopt children, no one would have any beef with it. But add another man to the mix and suddenly everything is changed. Is it better that a child spends their entire life in the adoption system, never receiving a family or the love they deserve than with a gay couple? Heterosexuals often have children by accident. Homosexuals have a history of having to fight very hard in order to become parents. If a gay couple is looking to adopt, one can be assured they really want it. I think homosexuals make absolutely fabulous parents!

“God has made his position on homosexuality and homosexual relationships/marriages very clear.”
Where? The Book of Mormon? The words of Christ? The Church leaders surely have a stance, however that stance and their procedures of dealing with homosexuals has changed dramatically over the past 30 or 40 years. Who is to say it will not continue to change? Do I need to pull out the quotes of Church leaders regarding blacks and the Priesthood? The LDS Church evolves rapidly.
For me, it all comes down to personal revelation. After immense soul searching God told me quite differently. I had to fight for every ounce of revelation I have gotten, and it was a long and arduous road (and one that I am still on). It is not a path for the faint of heart. Though all this, I have been able to come to no conclusion other than 1: personal revelation trumps the blanket advice of the Bretheren and 2: God endorses my homosexuality and perusal of a relationship in the status thereof. If there is anything I have spiritual confirmation of in the whole world, it is this. While I will never deny the spiritual experiences of others, neither will I allow them to deny mine.

One more thing on a more personal note. In response to my last note, a friend wrote me regarding their support of me entering a domestic partnership and being happy, but at the same time expressing their devotion to marriage as being divinely instituted to be between a man and a woman. In response, I said: "...one day if I ever have a life partner, what you said in your message implicitly states that my relationship with him is not as important nor as valid as your relationship with your spouse is. And that is what hurts the most about it." It is true, and is a point I have yet to hear anyone successfully argue against. They all express their love for me and at the same time reinforce those notions and deny us respect and dignity.

The sky will not and has not fallen with the ushering in of gay marriage.

PS (Congratulations to Connecticut)