Monday, December 01, 2008

About That Anti-Mormon Screed

So what was up with my Mormon bashing tirade, anyway?

Now that my hit counter has stopped going berserk from Mormons looking to pick a fight, let me do a little explaining.

• The genesis of this whole mess was the passage of Proposition 8 in California which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Similar measures passed in Florida and Arizona, and a law banning adoption by unmarried people (aimed at same-sex couples) passed in Arkansas. That put me in a downright depressed and sour mood.

• I was personally disappointed that I couldn't more fully celebrate the Obama win when these other measures passed — not just in backwards Arkansas, but also by the progressive population in my adopted home state of California.

• Counter protests started to pop up, generally around church of latter-day saints locations due to their large financial support in the passage of Prop 8 in California. The mormons have also been instrumental in similar measures in Hawaii, Arizona, and other locations. I posted a notice that a protest would occur outside the Mormon temple in Newport Beach, CA. I also manage the website for a GLBT Political Action Committee located in Orange County, CA where I uploaded the same post. Both posts moved to the top of Google search results for various terms.

• The stat counters for both blogs started going crazy, getting anywhere from 250-500 hits per day during this period. The post on this blog started to receive nasty comments that resulted in me having to delete several offensive items and to turn on comment moderation. This blog is my "cyber home" and I wasn't going to allow people to attack me here.

• According to StatCounter, these people landed on that page and then left on that page. They were NOT here to learn more about me, or my life, or to be supportive. Their intent was to drop in, leave a shitty statement of hate, and then move on their merry way while the rest of us were to deal with the repercussions.

• I began reading stories about the nationwide protests on the websites of the newspapers serving Orange County (Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times) and those that serve Salt Lake City (Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News). In all cases, the "religious community" was claiming to be the victim and they all seemed to be parroting the same untrue and unfounded reasons for stripping same-sex couples from the rights granted by the California Supreme Court.

• The reader comments on these articles were nasty and very upsetting. Some claimed that the gay community was treating Mormons like the Nazis treated the Jews during the Holocaust...completely omitting that it was homosexuals, not Mormons, that were actually sent to the gas chambers alongside the Jews. As a student of the Holocaust, I was appalled.

• While I have all comments turned off on the ECCO site due to previous anti-gay comments, the organization's email address is listed. I received an email on the organization's account that made a veiled threat to harm the protesters in Newport Beach; similar to the attacks on protesters outside the Mormon temple in Los Angeles. After some research and discussion with protest organizers, we ended up reporting the messages to the local police.

At this point, I was royally pissed and primed to lash out. I tend to hold my anger in because I am very adverse to confrontation, but if you keep turning my crank, I will eventually unleash and it won't be pretty.

That's when I modified the existing event notification post with the long list of anti-Mormon charges. The post was directed at those folks who were coming here for the sole purpose of causing trouble. That's why I modified the existing post rather than create a new one since it was getting all the traffic. I figured if they were coming here to give me an earful, I'd give them one first, and turn off the comments on that post to prevent them from responding. Everything I wrote was designed to strike a nerve and piss them off.

Clarifying A Bit Of What I Said
• I have no intention of abusing any missionaries that come to my door. It was an empty threat. I have a regular reader and very dear friend that has children that go on LDS missions and I did write an email to him assuring that I didn't really mean what I had written. I'm sure that he worries about his kids, as do I really, and would never want anything bad to happen to them or any young person traveling away from home.

• I said that there was a petition to place a constitutional amendment banning mormonism on the California ballot that already had tens of thousands of signatures. This was also untrue. I used it as a way to make them feel as I was feeling.

• I said that mormonism is a cult; that they aren't true Christians; that they have perverted magical underpants. All of which may or may not be true, but honestly I don't know or really care. All religions aren't very believable from my perspective. Believing a virgin birth is about on par with reading gold tablets in a hat. Ultimately, I don't care what religious people think as long as it doesn't impact me or bring harm to anyone...that's where I draw the line. I know that the charges I made are regularly used against mormons and it would further serve to irritate them.

In summary, it was my "no more Mr. Nice Gay" post. I doubt it solved anything and I can't even say it made me feel better. I know it just sowed more anger. Fighting fire with fire is rarely the best path to take, but it seems that's all we are left with.


michael sean morris said...

So now I know how to get hits...

Honestly, I knew a lovely Mormon couple when I lived in Halifax, and they couldn't have been nicer to me. But the more I read about Mormonism the more unbelievable it gets - even for Christianity...

The way I deal with hateful comments, as you may remember, is to make posts out of them, which is exactly what I would have done were I in the same position as you.

You should be able to follow the logic, even if they can't:

A) I make a post that says X organization - a church allegedly devoted to the teachings of Christ - is more about hate than love, which in my opinion is wrong...

B) Because of it, I get inundated with hate-filled comments...

C) Those people have just proved my point and should have the light of truth held up to them.

Deleting their comments is a form of denial that works in favour of the Proposition H8-ers, even if it is the more Christian thing to forgive as you appear to have done by ignoring those comments.

If the LDS church is going to ignore its flock in favour of political action aimed at denying people existing rights - a tactic which will eventually backfire on them, by the way - then they need to know that politics is a bruising, ugly mess and should be prepared to take the occasional lump.

Tater said...

Aw...FUCK 'em'. While I am sure there are a sprinkling of good people that are also Mormans, I think the majority are hateful bigots, who hide behind a fictitious religion as an excuse to spread prejudice and intolerance. They should be taxed, they should be exposed for their lies and hatred, and should be shamed into exhile somewhere in cousin fucker Utah. I hope they all rot in the hell of their own imagining.

RandyB said...


Spewing your own hate and bile about other "hateful bigots" should help improve the current situation.


Doralong said...

If you want to involve your religion in politics, you cross the line and lose your tax exempt status, period. Seems rather simple to me.

Alan said...

Dang...I always miss all the fun.

Seth R. said...

Look, I'm an active Mormon who opposed Prop 8 on the grounds that the government shouldn't be in the marriage license to begin with. It ought to be a matter of personal ritual and whether to recognize it should be private too. I figure gender-neutral civil union laws ought to be good enough for everyone as far as government involvement is concerned.

I also didn't like the unpleasant bedfellows we were getting with the Yes on Prop 8 crowd - many of whom hate Mormons almost as much as they hate homosexuality. And I certainly didn't like the fact that my church leaders were essentially admitting that we need government permission to get married.

I don't know about you, but I don't need any county judge's permission to be married to my wife.

It all seemed like a bad way to protect marriage, and failed to address the inequalities that gays face that I do think need to be remedied (even if I personally do not recognize their marriages).

I also had my share of gripes about the sensationalized campaign blitz prior to the vote, which I considered a distraction to the day-to-day work of our religious life.

I certainly wasn't the only one.

That said, I've been utterly disgusted with the GBLT community's response to this. You are hardly the only one to call for physical violence against Mormon missionaries (whether serious about it or not). I've been tracking the news about my church via Google alerts on keywords like "Mormon" "Joseph Smith" and "LDS." I was tracking long before Prop 8 was even on the radar.

And I can tell you that there has been an utter explosion of blog posts and news articles online of what cannot be described as anything other than anti-Mormon hate. Calls to beat up Mormon missionaries (some of whom sounded pretty damn serious about it). People joking about burning Mormon temples to the ground and "taxing the ashes." All the usual hateful comments about "magic underpants," "brainwashed cultists," and our pedophile prophet (although, to be honest, Evangelical Jesus-screamers have been taking that line of criticism for decades, so the gays are in good company, I guess...).

Then incidents like gays picketing a restaurant because one of the owner's relatives donated a measly $100.00 to Prop 8. Or getting a Mormon theater director fired when someone outed his donations. Or the mere fact that Mormons - as a religious group - are being targeted online for investigation of campaign contributions. Or the repeated acts of vandalism of LDS places of worship. Or the lovely irony of a photo I saw of a pro-gay protester flipping the bird to the spire of the LA Temple while holding a "No to H8" sign. Or the incident where a mob of gay protesters assaulted a woman carrying a prop cross. Or the calls to have the IRS attack the financial structure of a religion even though the religion was well within its rights of participation under the tax code.

And to think the "No on Prop 8" crowd was tripping over themselves to assure everyone that they were not, in fact, anti-religion.

Well, congratulations. You folks have sure shot that assurance to hell and back.

Nobody is going to believe the GBLT community again when they assure people that they are not "anti-religion." The past month's events have set that cause back probably a decade or more.

I'm not saying most gays are anti-religion. But the visible protests give that impression. Contemptuous language about things which are sacred to religious Americans doesn't help either.

Seriously, the magic is over for me. I honestly thought, prior to Prop 8 that gays tended to be more tolerant on the whole than their right-wing counterparts.

That naive delusion is over. I have seen a steady stream of profanity-laced stupidity from the gay blogosphere over the last month. Gays have proven themselves to be just as much a bunch of bigoted jackasses as the dingbats on the Christian Right.

Congratulations guys, you've set your cause back years with this behavior. I really expected better of you.

Alan said...

Seth catalogues a whole bunch of behaviors there, and paints them all with one brush, demonstrating that he's just as prone to overgeneralize as the folks he's criticizing.

Pot, meet kettle.

For example, picketing a business that supported Proposition 8 is hardly in the same league as vandalism of Mormon churches. Boycotting a business is a completely reasonable way to express disagreement, and picketing is simply free speech. Deal. Profanity-laced stupidity? Well, it's stupid, but is it hate? And even if the people behind such profanity-laced stupidity actually do hate, who cares? Words on a blog. Big deal. It isn't as if they have ... oh, let's just say for example ... revoked one of your basic human rights, Seth. I'd save my indignation for things that really matter, if I were you.

Grouping all these behaviors in with vandalism or personal violence leads me to wonder what sort of behavior, if any, Seth would see as an acceptable protest to the Mormon church's support of Proposition 8.

However, on one point I'm afraid he's somewhat right. Though he completely overgeneralizes ("Gays have proven themselves to be just as much a bunch of bigoted jackasses ..." oh, really? All of us?) it is true that some small number of loud voices in the LGBT community are intolerant of religion of any sort.

There are often good reasons for that loathing, easily found in the lives and experiences of those who have been injured by the church -- reasons that Seth blithely ignores. However, I have often said that, in my experience, it has been easier to come out as gay in the church than come out as Christian in the LGBT community.

As I said, Seth and others seem to completely ignore the fact that there are very good reasons for this anger (and anger does not automatically mean hate, either.) If the tables were somehow turned, does anyone honestly believe that heterosexuals, whose marriages had just been invalidated for no good reason other than bigotry, wouldn't string up the first faggot they could find? In fact, haven't some of them been doing just that for years? (And where, exactly has been this sort of outrage about that from the Mormons?)

People are angry, and a righteous anger is good for the soul. Unfortunately a tiny number of individuals have let that anger spill out into hate. Also unfortunately, folks like Seth, who can't seem to tell one queer from another, will simply stereotype the whole community.

Not surprising, they've had a lot of practice at stereotyping us.

Seth R. said...

This from a blog discussion that seems incapable of telling one Mormon apart from another either. If it really understood anything about us to begin with.

My central point was that this behavior is lumping gays together. The protests are smearing the entire group. If you read carefully in there, you'd note I already left open the possibility that the broad brush is unfair or inaccurate. It probably is.

And yeah, boycotting a business because one of the owners relatives donated a 100 dollars to the campaign?

One hundred dollars?

You'd have to be an utter imbecile to think that's going to play well anywhere.

The same thing is happening to the gay movement here that happened to the protesters at that Seattle economic summit a few years back. Remember that?

Largely a peaceful protest. But then a few anarchist agitators mixed into the ranks and started smashing store windows and overturning cars.

Guess what? It didn't matter how well behaved you were as a protester. America lumped you in with the crazy vandalizing anarchists.

The gay movement needs to wake up and realize what kind of message is being sent here, because middle America is watching and gays are half as popular with the center as they think they are. There is going to be a backlash if people can't get their act together and police the jackasses in their ranks.

I haven't seen too much of that though. Mostly you guys seem to busy having gripe sessions about how stupid Mormons are for actually taking their religion seriously.

Please listen - from someone who actually wants to advance gay rights and is very much disgusted with Christian Right.

This is not helping. You are shooting yourself in the foot. Unless the GBLT community can pull itself together, this is going to backfire on them with a vengeance.

Sure, you have a right to protest in front of LDS temples and wherever else.

But honestly, who gives a damn? Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. This is really, really bad PR. And in a democracy, that's bad mojo for the homosexual cause.

As for the Mormons, this will have zero effect on us. None.

The IRS challenges are a pipe dream being pushed by people utterly ignorant of the US tax code and how it works. The LDS Church has violated no laws and is well within it's rights.

Calls to boycott Utah are ridiculous considering only 60% of the population is Mormon and Salt Lake City is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the America, with some of the most progressive hate crime legislation and homosexual rights legislation in the country. Mayor Rocky Andersen has been regularly ranked as the most liberal mayor in the nation. The ski industry is almost totally situated in liberal, gay-friendly pockets of Utah like Park City and Sundance.

Yet another example of uninformed idiots calling for brainless action.

As for the protests outside temples and churches... realize guys, you are just feeding into Mormon fortress mentality. It doesn't matter if Mormons are really persecuted or not. We feel that way.

We know how you guys talk about us around the water cooler when you think there aren't any actual Mormons listening. A lot of us have been thrown out of community events because of our religious affiliation. Mormons are fired from employment because of their religion. In Western Europe, Mormon mothers actually lose custody of their children for no other reason than being a Mormon. We've seen friends ostracize us for this, we've seen toddler playgroups tell us to get lost, we've had parents in the neighborhood tell their kids not to play with ours. We've even had people disinherited and thrown out of their homes when dad found out about the baptism.

It still happens today.

You can readily talk about how it doesn't matter because we don't have it as bad as gays.

Irrelevant. For the purposes of my point, it doesn't matter because I'm talking about how Mormons perceive the reality, not what the reality is.

We have a nasty history that anyone can look up if they choose. We have the distinction of being the only group in US history outside of Native Americans to have a government sponsored extermination order placed on them. It's a history of hatred, theft, rape, false imprisonment, harassment, and massacre.

Also keep in mind that 200 years ago is not really a long time historically speaking. For living Mormons, it's still fresh in the memory.

As a people, it's given us a bit of a paranoid bunker mentality. Justified or not, the gay protests play right into this mentality.

Not only that, it doesn't help your cause that gay bloggers and news articles are basically repeating the same tired old criticisms we've been hearing ad nauseum from butthead Evangelical anti-Mormons for the last fifty years.

Magic underwear?

Har, har. Like I haven't heard that one a thousand times already.

Scientology? Gasp! No really! No one's ever made that comparison before.

In fact, the last time I heard the scientology comparison, it was from a guy who thinks that the entire earth's animal population came from a single boat a few thousand years ago following a flood that buried all the mountains on earth and that dinosaur bones were put on earth by Satan in an attempt to discredit the Bible.

We're used to Evangelical preachers parking themselves outside our temples and screaming how we're going to hell while burning books of Mormon and waving Mormon underwear around. They yell at our wedding parties outside the Salt Lake Temple too. One started a fight when he called the bride a prostitute and got himself punched by her father.

Classy crowd you guys are lumping yourselves in with. I find it deeply ironic that the gay blogging community seems to be taking it's marching orders on Mormon criticism from Evangelical fundamentalists - who pioneered all these wonderful criticisms in the first place.

In short, newspapers are hyping up some sort of "PR disaster" for the LDS Church here. In reality it's shaping up to be a PR disaster for the gay community. Unless someone does something about it quick.

Really, this is just over the top. And it's going to be perceived that way. And it won't make a lick of difference in changing Mormon attitudes at all.

Alan said...

"My central point was that this behavior is lumping gays together. The protests are smearing the entire group."

I agree that violence makes the peaceful protests look bad (and if you've been paying attention, you'd know that there have been hundreds of protests across the country, involving thousands and thousands of people, that have not been in any way violent.

But to point out that lumping all LGBT people together with a few who are violent, and then doing that exact thing with your statements is self-contradictory.

"The gay movement needs to wake up and realize what kind of message is being sent here, because middle America is watching and gays are half as popular with the center as they think they are. There is going to be a backlash if people can't get their act together and police the jackasses in their ranks."

And how, exactly, do you propose that we "police" these "jackasses?" You write as if you actually believe there is a "gay movement" when, in fact, there is no such thing. You write as if you believe there is some actual organization in charge of us all, to which we swear allegiance. There is not. We don't have "prophets" that tell us all what to do, and then we go out and do it. These protests have been largely organized by no one and no organization, but are simply the result of some good web grass-root "Hey let's all get together on Saturday for a protest" work.

So you continue to make several assumptions which are wrong, and then continue to lump all LGBT people together, which even you admit is stupid.

Instead, I wonder how much more effective it would be for someone like you, with your background and your point of view to take a principled stand and say loudly, and anywhere someone is listening, "Hey, this violence and stupidity is from a tiny, tiny number of people, and demonizing the entire group on the basis of those actions is just as stupid as judging the entire Mormon church on the basis of the actions of one mormon."

Instead you simply want some space to whine about being treated unfairly. Yeah well, you and me both kiddo. But the difference is that I'm not the one stereotyping either LGBT people *or* Mormons on the basis of the actions of a few.

Your advice is to sit down, shut up, and take it. No protests, no boycotts, no language that might be perceived as offensive. That seems like a less than effective strategy.

And this, "Classy crowd you guys are lumping yourselves in with. I find it deeply ironic that the gay blogging community seems to be taking it's marching orders on Mormon criticism from Evangelical fundamentalists - who pioneered all these wonderful criticisms in the first place." is so hypocritical, it makes me wonder if you've actually been paying attention to the fact that the Mormon Church *itself* seems to have been taking it's marching orders from those very same Evangelical fundamentalists.

Seriously. Pot, meet kettle.

I appreciate that you say that you were against Proposition 8. That's great. But why you then turn around and hypocritically lump all LGBT people together because you think it's wrong that some LGBT people lump all Mormons together ... sorry, that's just giving me a cognitive dissonance contact high.

Alan said...

"And it won't make a lick of difference in changing Mormon attitudes at all."

Oh... sorry ... missed it. Yet another incorrect assumption. You're assuming that these protests are designed to change people's attitudes.

They're not. Protests don't change minds. Debate doesn't change minds. Protests are designed to do just that ... protest. It's an American tradition, and is still, for the time being anyway, Constitutionally protected.

Y | O | Y said...

Seth, you sound like so many other Mormon commenters I've read (albeit more respectful in your tone)...somehow, you manage to turn this whole thing into Mormons being the victim. That's some pretty neat mental gymnastics.

Gays and lesbians lost their rights; the Mormons go along their merry way; and somehow we should just shut up and eat the shit sandwich we were served? We've done that for decades and taking it hasn't gotten us anywhere.

Mormons seem like the bully who punches someone every day, then when the victim finally punches back because appeasing hasn't got him anywhere, the bully runs crying to the teacher about how afraid he is. The irony is that the bully really is blinded to who the real victim is because they are so sure they are right.

You defend current LDS thinking because Mormons were persecuted as a people two centuries ago. That doesn't make it right. The persecuted have become the persecutor. The lack of empathy and understanding is astounding.

Regarding Prop 8, an anonymous Mormon told me I'd better watch out for the "Tongans." You know, the same Tongan Mormons that viciously attacked the demonstrators in Los Angeles. When you bring up the lady who had her styrofoam cross crushed, you should also recognize that those elements exist within the LDS community, too.

BTW, that woman is a know agitator in Palm Springs and her intent was to stir up trouble. Well she found it. I, personally, didn't like what I saw but she kinda asked for it. At least she wasn't physically assaulted like the folks in LA were by the Tongans.

I'd be interested in knowing what you propose that we do to change the minds of mormons? As you so eloquently said, "And it won't make a lick of difference in changing Mormon attitudes at all." That really is the issue...we are up against a force that is unwilling to change. Heck, for all your proclaiming to be on our side, it sure doesn't feel that way by what you write.

Ultimately, I think we all know that Mormons won't change. We just aren't going to smile about it and turn the other cheek anymore. The result may be the same but at least we've had our say.

Alan said...

"I'd be interested in knowing what you propose that we do to change the minds of mormons? "

Yup, I'd love to hear that too.

As a Mormon yourself, Seth, talking in a vaguely respectful discussion here in this blog comment thread, you have a unique perspective to tell us what we should be doing.

I for one would love to hear your suggestions, that I hope are more than just "don't do that."

michael sean morris said...

One sentence of Seth's from a long time ago still isn't sitting right with me: "I'm an active Mormon who opposed Prop 8 on the grounds that the government shouldn't be in the marriage license to begin with."


romach said...

Isn't that Seth a real example to us all???? Sounds like he really understands what Jesus preached in the Bible! ie, he hasn't a God damn clue what he's talking about. I am with Tater on this one!

Tater said...

@ Randy B

Hateful Bile? No, not just another apologist gay boy who allows himself to be sullied and bullied by religious fanatics. If that is the course you intend to take, good for you, but it will get you nowhere, except an early grave. Religious beliefs are the cause of countless gay deaths, including most recently, the deaths of thousands during the Aids crises of the 80's and 90's, in which religious intolerance was the center point of the argument against funding Aids research and treatment. Do me a favor and go buy yourself a fucking clue.

My intuition tells me that you are a liar. I don't think you voted no on 8, but are just trying to appear sympathetic as a ruse to troll here and further disseminate your religion's prejudice and hate for GLBT people. Allow me to be the first person seated at your pity party, for the backlash gay people have heaped on your beliefs. Unlike your religion which is a belief, therefore a CHOICE, People of color and GLBT are a state of being. Your religion is attempting to strip away the equal rights of human beings for simply living a life of honesty and dignity. The persecution of your religion, in no way compares to the persecution, murder, and incarceration of GLBT people throughout history. I don't recall any Mormon's being gassed at Dachau. Until recently, your religion practiced intolerance and hatred towards African Americans as well. Quite a nifty track record you and fellow cultists have amassed. If you want reconciliation, or fruitful discussions on mutual acceptance or a drawing down of tensions between Mormons and the GLBT community, you should start by changing the bigotry and hatred professed and politically acted upon by your church. You should not be taking angry gay people to task for expressing their frustrations over being treated as second class citizens, and first rate tax payers. You reap what you sow, sunshine. Enjoy the harvest. Oh, and a hearty "FUCK OFF".

Alan said...

"No, not just another apologist gay boy who allows himself to be sullied and bullied by religious fanatics."


As I was saying before about intolerance from those who should know better... Disagree with some, and it doesn't matter who you are or what you believe. Unless you're pure in their eyes, you're to be cast out. Such gay fundamentalists are no different than their religious fundamentalist opponents. I'm happy that the Christian fundamentalists don't count me as one of their number ... just as I am happy that the gay fundies don't like me either. If I'm pissing off either group, I must be doing something right. ;)

Anyway, again ... Pot, meet kettle.

Y | O | Y said...

If this post is any indication, I've decided to write a Mormon post each week to up my comments and hits! (Just kidding.)

Tater said...

I am by no means a "gay fundie", nor am I a smug, self righteous prick. I am just a gay man, who is tired of being denied equal rights, and who is tired of being attacked by religious fanatics.



Alan said...

Meh. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... I've seen comments like yours more times than I can count. And even though I'm "just another apologist gay boy who allows himself to be sullied and bullied by religious fanatics," not only can I count, but I can read too, so it's pretty clear how you feel about religious people of any stripe. Obviously, just gay fundamentalism.

Tired of being attacked by religious fanatics? Same here. But the difference between us is that I realize religiousfanatics isn't one word, but is actually an adjective followed by a noun, and I realize that fanatics come in all varieties, including gay fanatics who attack anyone who is religious and who claim that a person can't both be gay and religious ... which is oddly enough, absolutely no different than the religious fanatics who claim claim that a person can't both be gay and religious. (And no different than Seth here, who can't separate violent acts and violent people from those of us who are understandably and righteously angry.)

Of course that's all silly. There are plenty of religious people (of any religion) who are not fanatics and who are not only not anti-gay, but are in fact loving and accepting of all people. And there are plenty of gay people who are also religious. Lumping all religious people together isn't just lame stereotyping ... worse ... it's just plain lazy. I suppose that saves one from having to do the difficult work of say ... actually thinking. That's why the religious fanatics do the same lazy stereotyping, I suspect, it's just easier.

So then, I save my anger for the religious folk who actually deserve it.

Tater said...

You know nothing about me, nor my views on religion, and I know nothing about you, so I will refrain from stereotyping you, like I did "the Mormons". By the way, as I made quite clear in my earlier comment, my response was directed at Randy, not you. That you appropriated it for yourself is indicative of issues you must be struggling with internally. Perhaps your ability to read isn't as advanced as you claim? In any case, are you single? I have been looking to date a smug and bitchy pseudo intellectual with a religious persecution complex, to discipline me. Call me?

Alan said...

"That you appropriated it for yourself is indicative of issues you must be struggling with internally."

Really? You're going with the I'm-going-to-pretend-I'm-a-mind-reader-spewing-pedantic-arm-chair-psychobabble-at-someone-I've-never-met-and-diagnosing-him-as-obviously-self-loathing retort? Interesting choice. A bit dated, though. They say the classics never go out of style, but in my opinion the psychobabble thing is right up there with "I'm rubber, you're glue."

Anyway, you had it right the first time when you said you know nothing about me, but then lost it when you contradicted yourself and assumed you actually knew something about me. Nicely done. Usually it takes people more than three sentences to completely contradict themselves. ;)

"I have been looking to date a smug and bitchy pseudo intellectual with a religious persecution complex, to discipline me."


Sorry, I'm already married. Anyway, it'd never work since, while I may be all those things (and you forgot adorable), I'm clearly not pure-bred gay enough for you. But look on the bright side, you've got your personal ad mostly written, Kitten: "smug and bitchy pseudo intellectual with a religious persecution complex" -- just add "seeks same."

(BTW, you should really lighten up, Butter-cup. It's just a blog. Frown lines aren't pretty.)

Y | O | Y said...

That's enough, boys.

I like you both, and I see myself in both of you. We're all way more alike than different so lets give each other the benefit of the doubt here. The written word is tricky, especially around an emotionally charged issue like this.

We all need to work together against the real folks standing in our way of equality. There's room for all of us, of all backgrounds, of all beliefs.

Our diversity of approaches will eventually be our strength. Commenters Seth and Randy may not be swayed by one of our arguments, but someone else's may resonate.

Now, since Seth didn't respond, does anyone have a convincing strategy/approach to the faith-based communities that hasn't been used yet?

One of the strengths of the ESPA (Empire State Pride Agenda), the state-wide GLBT group here in NY (link in my right sidebar), is that they have a specific faith-based outreach program. The first rally of theirs that I attended on the steps of the Capitol here in Albany, I was impressed by the number of speakers of various faiths that took the podium. I am agnostic but I recognize that this was valuable. It's rather hard to beat someone over the head with the Bible when those very people are pastors!

Seth R. said...

You're all not reading my comments very carefully.

If you want to know my background, I grew up in Utah as a practicing Mormon. My father is a highly orthodox convert to the LDS faith and my mother is a bit more flexible in her faith - having come from a part-member family and seeing both good and bad points of the Mormon culture. My mom almost left the church over the issue of race in the early 1960s, but stuck it out anyway.

I grew up rather resenting the Republican stranglehold on Utah politics. I considered a great deal of the Christian Right's agenda to be a smokescreen that distracted from substantial issues. And I've always been disgusted with the Utah Mormon tendency to play make-believe like we are part of the Christian Right, when really we aren't. It felt too much like trying to kiss up to the local playground bully in an attempt to be popular (part of these feelings were at play when I saw Romney - and obviously, didn't vote for him).

I was happy to get out of Utah and away from the unholy alliance of the GOP with my Church.

I currently live in Colorado and voted against a similar marriage initiative in this state several years ago. I voted Obama - both in the primaries and in the general election (heck I even voted for Kerry 4 years ago just to get Bush out).

I did post a blog criticism on Prop 8 months ago - which you can find on the archives of the Mormon group blog I'm on if you click through the link on my name (I'm not hiding anything here). There are a lot of opinions in the Mormon blogging community on this issue.

Some take a hardline conservative approach and agree with both the LDS stance against gay marriage and the method that the Church is using to oppose it. Some of them have even gone so far as to question the faithfulness and "eternal reward" of those who opposed Prop 8, for whatever reason. I've been called an apostate online before by fellow Mormons for my views.

Which I think is stupid in light of recent LDS leadership statements that all Mormons are free to vote their conscience on this issue, but anyway...

Then there are Mormon bloggers who who consider marriage a fundamental right and feel it's being denied to gay couples and oppose Prop 8 on those grounds. One of them who goes by "Chino Blanco" has been doing regular posts over at the Daily Kos opposing Prop 8. He's an active member of the LDS faith in full fellowship.

That's not me either. I do not consider marriage a fundamental right. In fact, as I've already explained, I don't think it was ever government's business to hand out marriage licenses to begin with. I don't think gays have a right to government endorsement of their marriages.

But nor do I think that Mormons have a right to government endorsement of THEIR marriages either. Or Catholics, or Jews, or Muslims, or Wiccans, or whoever else.

What I'm calling for, is taking government out of the marriage business entirely. No more marriage licenses. The end.

What ought to be put in place instead are gender-neutral civil union laws that protect all unions - homosexual, heterosexual, monogamous, polygamous... whatever. I don't care.

If a gay couple can find a Unitarian minister in San Francisco to marry them, fine by me. If Catholic priests want to exclude gay couples, fine by me. But none of this government endorsement business.

Gays do not have a right to call on government to force other people to like them. But neither do Southern Baptists.

So that's my stance on this. Kind of a strict libertarian approach.

I also feel like my Church's strategy on Prop 8 is not viable in the long term. It relies on government to get the job done. And I think this is a bad idea.

To use a passage from the Bible - Israel is looking toward Egypt to save them from the Babylonians.

Didn't work then (Egypt ultimately left Jerusalem to rot and the Babylonians sacked it) and it won't work now (the US government will not protect Mormon marriage practices in the long-term).

I have reasons to oppose Prop 8 that a purely religious. It is because of my Mormon faith that I opposed Prop 8, not in spite of it.

Which brings me to why I'm pissed off.

If you want to call Mitt Romney a filthy hypocrite, fine by me. If you want to gripe about the GOP and how Mormon culture fits into it, it won't bother me.

But I'm not going to sit down and take it when people try to drag ordinances I consider sacred into it, or my religious beliefs. Those I will defend, because I happen to believe in the whole religion pretty strongly.

I make a disconnect between religion and current culture. But I believe in the whole Book of Mormon thing, the prophetic status of Joseph Smith and the current LDS prophet. So I will defend those things and attacking them does not help the gay marriage cause in my mind.

In fact, attacking religion has ALWAYS hurt liberal causes more than it has helped them. Americans are mostly religious people. True atheists are such a small minority as to be almost irrelevant at the voting booth.

Anyway, that's where I'm coming from basically.

One final thing... I have been simply describing perceptions - how Mormons will perceive things, how mainstream America will perceive things.

And the actions of a few (although I think the over-the-top anti-Mormon rhetoric seems to be damn near universal except in isolated pockets) will smear everyone else.

You can yell at me all you want about lumping people together. But all your doing is shooting the messenger. I've read a few blog posts calling for more moderate response. But it was only a few. Most pro-gay blog posts I've been reading (and I have actually been scanning ALL of them) have been downright hateful. Here's a sampler which, believe it or not, is actually representative of what I've been reading online:

"Burn their ******* churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers"

"While financially I supported the Vote No, and was vocal to everyone and anyone who would listen, I have never considered being a violent radical extremist for our equal rights. But now I think maybe I should consider becoming one. Perhaps that is the only thing that will affect the change we so desperately need and deserve."

"Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT."

"I'm going to give them something to be ******* scared of. … I'm a radical who is now on a mission to make them all pay for what they've done"

Maybe, as you said, these guys are just isolated cases. But not online anyway. Online, they're pretty par for the course. Maybe like you said, people were just venting some steam and weren't really serious. But can you blame Mormons for getting nervous about that kind of talk?

And of course I know you can't police everything. Even in the LDS Church with its structured hierarchy we can't police all our membership, so I obviously don't expect anyone else to either. But not feeding into rants about burning Mormon temples would be a helpful start.

Y | O | Y said...

Seth, perhaps it would help you to know my background as well.

I am agnostic. Baptized Catholic but never went to Church. I generally view organized religion as anti-GLBT and I have been known to take that personally. Although, my best friend is an evangelical that attends Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA. I've also had online interactions with Alan (commenter on this thread) on his blog regarding his faith. Yes, I know all religious/evangelical/Mormons are not cut from the same cloth.

I grew up, and now live, in upstate NY. I went all through school with the Smith's, a rather large Mormon family of direct descendants of Joseph Smith. I was friends with Jennifer who was in my grade and have been to their house.

I've worked with Mormons, have acquaintances that are Mormons, and friends that have left the Church. I've been to Utah more times than I can count and visited Temple Square and taken tours many times. Most recently this past July. While I am not a believer in any faith, I'm always curious to understand what others think and believe. I am not ignorant of the LDS faith, community, its people or its customs.

My encounters have always been positive. In short, I was not predisposed to be anti-Mormon.

I never had any problem with the LDS Church until Prop 8. That was a game changer for me, and I suspect for a large swath of the GLBT community based on the protests.

My question to you is still on the table: What strategies are available to the GLBT community to engage and change the position of the LDS Church?

This isn't over. Marriage equality is coming to New York State. Maybe not this year, but soon. If the LDS Church gets involved here, I envision further clashes with the GLBT community. Now is the time to start talking before the temperature of the debate is too hot!

Alan said...

"That's enough, boys."

Yes, Mother. :)

"Now, since Seth didn't respond, does anyone have a convincing strategy/approach to the faith-based communities that hasn't been used yet?"

Well, debate doesn't work. I'm convinced that debate has never changed anyone's mind on anything, ever. That's not to say it doesn't have its place, but if the goal is actually changing beliefs, then debate won't cut it.

First, the only way that people will change their minds is by our coming out and getting to know them, including people of faith. We don't have to change the minds of the real homophobes (religious or not), they're a minority, and statistically, they're mostly old. We'll outlive them. As Max Plank said, progress happens one funeral at a time. The rest, the majority, simply don't know any better, and for better or worse, people usually vote their self-interest. Until we make it in their self-interest to vote for us, because we're an important part of their lives, they'll simply vote out of fear and/or ignorance, like anyone else.

Second, nearly every mainline denomination has an organization that is working to educate people of faith. In the Methodist Church it's the Reconciling Ministries Network. In the Presbyterian Church it's MoreLight Presbyterians. Heck, even the Catholics have Dignity. Who knows, there might even be a gay Mormon or two out there somewhere. ;) These groups are always out-manned and out-financed by the minority fundamentalist elements in their respective communities. However, they know the territory and they speak the language, so supporting them is another way to help.

And Seth, while I also would prefer a separation between civil marriage and religious marriage, I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening. Whether we like it or not, the same-sex marriage fight is the fight we've got. The far right framed the issues, and we've been playing catch-up for at least 10 years. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to redefine the argument now.

Alan said...

BTW, Since we're all sharing and singing kumbaya now...

I was born and raised in a small conservative Congregational church in a small conservative town. I did my undergrad at a small, very conservative Christian college (named after John Calvin, for crying out loud) which was owned by a small, very conservative evangelical denomination.

Now, years later, I'm an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), where I attend a small, liberal church, the church in which my husband (also an ordained Elder) and I were married, by the Pastor, with the approval of the Session, and with nearly every member of the congregation in attendance. Our church first started bucking the denomination back in the 1970's when it began ordaining LGBT people, and even back then conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies. It's been working on LGBT justice issues ever since. The congregation, by the way, has never been more than about 10% LGBT, so this really is all about allies.

As for my take on the Mormon Church, I am reasonably conversant with the beliefs, but it's probably best not to get into my thoughts on that. However, I've never had any problems with Mormons themselves, and don't judge them based on my beliefs about their religion. Live and let live. In this case, however, it was the organization that demanded that members fund a political campaign. So, yes, I have a problem with that, which has nothing to do with what I think about either the people or their beliefs.

Sure, they're an easy target, but then, I believe in virgin births, resurrections, eternal life, and ritual human sacrifice, so I find it's usually best not to cast stones. ;)

Seth R. said...

Where to go from here?

Good question.

I agree with Alan that however good an idea it may be, the separation of State and Marriage is unlikely to happen. At least, not at the any popular level of governance.

If I were a legislator, there is no way I would want to give my political opponents such an easy target as saying "Seth wants to take away your marriage licenses." There isn't a politician alive (who's sane anyway) who wants that albatross on his or her career.

It's never going to be a successful ballot issue either for the same reasons - too easy to paint it as "taking marriage away."

Which, in my mind, leaves the courts.

Rather than spending all this societal capital on Prop 8, I really would have liked to see a series of lawsuits by young Mormon couples demanding that they be given equal benefits without the need for a marriage license. Challenging it as an infringement of religious practices, maybe... Or something like that.

I won't pretend that I've really thought through the legal ramifications on this or whether it has a chance of making it through the courts system.

But it seems like it would have a better shot in the judiciary than in the legislative branch. It's too much of a paradigm shift to happen anywhere else.

Who knows... it might work.

As for change in the LDS Church...

It's ironic that Prop 8 happened when it did. Believe it or not, the LDS Church has actually been in a gradual state of softening towards the "gay question" for the past ten years. We've seen a lot of shifting on the issue.

A few points of progress (all at the level of top leadership):

1. LDS authorities no longer speak of simply having homosexual tendencies as being "sinful." Simply having the attraction is no longer stigmatized (I would emphasize that this is from the top level of leadership - down below, it's a mixed bag). It is only gay sex that is condemned. The act.

2. Even gay sex is not spoken of a ton anymore. LDS leaders tend to frame it more softly in terms of "God said marriage is between a man and a woman and any sex outside of marriage is adultery." Period. And they just leave it there.

Practically, it amounts to the same thing (no gay sex), but you might take a shift in rhetoric as a positive sign.

3. LDS local leaders are now instructed NOT to suggest heterosexual marriage as a solution to homosexual tendencies. That used to be common advice (probably still incidents of it at the local level).

4. You don't hear speculations on what causes homosexuality anymore. Gone are the days when you'll hear leaders at the top level opining that "masturbation causes homosexuality."

This is a welcome change if you ask me. We always get in far more trouble explaining a doctrine than in just living it. The justifications, the elaborations, the excuses... often they hurt more than help. So I'm glad to see LDS leaders simply admitting ignorance on the subject and leaving well enough alone.

I have actually heard top LDS leaders admit that homosexuality may be genetic (although gay advocates should never indulge the fantasy that calling something genetic is even close to justifying it in the eyes of religious people).

Recently LDS General Authorities have also taken the time to address the issue of homosexuality in detail and the treatment has usually been quite sympathetic.

So, in short, there has been a shift at the level of top LDS officials - in rhetoric if nothing else. All this has happened in the last 10 years.

Which made the sudden throwing-in with Prop 8 all the more surprising. I don't really know what's going on there.

That's not a real answer to the question, I know. But it's something I thought I'd throw out anyway. As far as recommendations for changing Mormon minds on the issue, more later when I have a moment.