Should “My Husband’s Not Gay” Air?

The president of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), Sarah Kate Ellis, has argued that the new TLC show “My Husband’s Not Gay” should not air. She says

This show is downright irresponsible. No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to.

A petition to end it before it begins presently has almost 85,000 over 91,000 signatures.

Folks are saying that broadcasting the notion that you can live a “straight life for your faith community” continues to be dangerous, and that the network is airing this for pure entertainment value.

Of course, counterpoints are that of religious liberty, cultural pluralism, or even freedom of speech.

Myself, I’m torn. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been annoyed at situations like conservative Mormons marching in Pride parades, because the politics becomes too fuzzy… but on the other hand, the obviously(?) thin veneer of happiness for most mixed-orientation marriages on the screen might be just what people need.

Opinions?

Mormonism, Christianity and Queer Politics

Someone recently brought to my attention an atheist post about how “Jesus was not a queer ally,” how the writer “can’t take LGBT-affirming Christianity seriously” and “why queer spaces must remain secular.” The post covers a lot of important nuances. Looking briefly at my past writings about the intersection between Mormonism and queerness, the someone (who I just met) thought that I might be a good person to critically respond to the above post.

Well, besides the fact that I don’t really feel I have much of a stake in the matter these days, my writings also tend to demonstrate that, indeed as a whole, queer spaces and queer politics do function best when they are secular (and not Christian).

Particularly when it comes to Mormonism. The nail in the coffin for me, looking back, is when in 2012 Mormons started marching in Pride parades and the vast majority of “progressive Mormons” were celebratory about the convergence. Two years later, the institution is as heteropatriarchal as ever, and the rhetoric of inclusion makes it just that much harder to work against the institution’s anti-gayness. It’s constantly an uphill battle with Mormons… they want to “love,” but they can’t support this or that because of their beliefs, including the very welcoming of same-sex couples into their church community.

While my personal sense is that Jesus himself was a “queer ally,” unlike the atheist blogger who thinks this is “absurdly generous,” either way I agree with the blogger that Jesus’ allyship is meaningless if the consequence of Christianity was a global spread of homophobia:

It’s not Jesus’ fault Christians have twisted and ignored his words, one might argue. It’s entirely his fault. When your life’s work is to broadcast your views, particularly if you mean to build a church on them, it falls to you to make them unmistakable – and when people whose life’s work is obeying you do just what you oppose, you may well be in the wrong job.

A counterclaim emerges in my mind that would argue that late-20th century “taming” of destructive LGBT behaviors (too much alcoholism, too much sex, too many STDs) is a result of a kind of infused religiosity (now gays have babies and marry, and stay in on Friday nights and play boardgames).

My own feeling is a sense of nostalgia for the radical queer politics of the 1960s that called for things like public sex and alternative family structures in relation to today’s tamed queers who are good consumers, good parents (in married coupledoms), and good Christians. It’s a similar kind of nostalgia for radical race-based organizers like Malcolm X who were unpalatable for most people at the time, but far more critical of the broken system as a whole. Instead, society upholds Martin Luther King’s notion of “love/inclusion,” even though 40 years after the Civil Rights Movement, racial violence remains. This is not a slight on MLK, just as I wouldn’t slight Jesus…it’s just that at some point, one has to step back and see how “love/inclusion” has actually played out: white flight from underfunded inner cities, the “war on drugs” and the prison-industrial complex.

Consider Apostle Dallin Oaks’ words regarding gay rights in the 1980s:

The public will see the debate as a question of tolerance of persons who are different, like other minorities. Perceiving the issue in those terms, the public will vote for tolerance. But if the legislative issue is posed in terms of whether the public has a right to exclude from certain kinds of employment persons who engage in (and will teach practices the majority wish to exclude for the good of society such as abnormal sexual practices that present demonstrable threats to youth, public health, and procreation), the gay rights proposal will lose. (“Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals,” 1984)

With its top-down structure there’s no doubt in my mind that Mormon leaders will continue to manipulate “love/inclusion” to keep the central structure in tact.

Arguably still, gay-affirming, more democratic forms of Christianity (not Mormonism) are a powerful force in the US today, or else gay marriage would not have gotten as far as it has; that is to say, gay marriage was never a 100% secular vs 100% religious debate, but made legal and social headway only with religious allies at the forefront. But again, I agree with the atheist blogger that “secularization allows genuine plurality,” so that God might be at the center of some people’s queer politics, but probably shouldn’t be wed to queer politics as a general rule for everyone.

The Church asks its gay members to water-down doctrine

The LDS gay community has had ideological ties with the evangelical gay community for many years. Both groups went through an “ex-gay” phase from the 1980s to the 2000s and now both groups are in a phase of “you can be gay, just don’t act on it” after the near simultaneous collapse of the Evergreen and Exodus models to “pray away the gay.”

One of the differences between Mormonism and evangelicalism, though, is there is some room in the latter now to be gay-affirming and to preach that without fear of punishment by a religious hierarchy. The question of whether people will listen or not is separate, of course.

One newbie on the stage is Matthew Vines whose gay-affirming book God and the Gay Christian is receiving some buzz. His arguments are what you’d expect… that the Bible is, in some fashion, contextual rather than for all-times-and-places. He argues the idea of “same-sex orientation” did not exist in the Bible, and before the 20th century, same-sex behavior was generally understood as sexual excess (adultery, pederasty, etc) — not the egalitarian type of today. Christianity (though not Mormonism) has an established tradition that affirms voluntary celibacy, but because of a recognition of gay people, this teaching has to be changed to require “mandatory celibacy.” This change in teaching speaks to a need to contextualize the Bible. From there, he goes on to argue that it’s probably more likely that committed gay relationships are affirmed by God (he runs through the usual scriptural passages).

His arguments aren’t “new” exactly, except they move and are received differently in today’s context of viral Youtube videos and same-sex marriage.

Anyway, there’s a point that Vines makes on a blog post, “Response to a Review: On Celibacy, Human Identity, and the Orientation/Behavior Distinction” that is quite applicable to the Mormon context, and made me think that the LDS Church is actually asking its gay members to water-down doctrine.

Vine writes:

Given the rank failure of the “ex-gay” approach, non-affirming Christians have sought to find a middle way, wherein they do not have to feel morally at fault for their persistent same-sex desires but can still regard any and every expression of those desires as sin.

Sympathetic as I am to that attempt at a middle ground, however, it cannot hold from a biblical perspective. The Bible simply does not allow us to consider ourselves blameless for internal temptations to sin, nor does it allow us to view unchanged sinful desires as a sign of a vibrant, faithful Christian life. In that respect, part of the reason non-affirming beliefs [are] livable is because [they are] watered down … in order to make them livable.

In the Mormon context same-sex desire is nowadays routinely denounced as “temptation” — “not sinful in and of itself.” Church leaders then say that there’s no need to centralize the temptation when thinking of one’s “eternal identity” as a “child of God.”

Vines responds to this paradigm:

One does not have to embrace the flawed view that our sexuality is the most important part of our human identity in order to see the profound harm caused to LGBT people by condemning all same-sex relationships as sin. A non-affirming perspective tarnish[es] the image of God in LGBT people, not because sex is necessary for their flourishing, but because hating and repenting of their every sexual desire is necessary if they are to live into the full implications of a non-affirming position.

Well, this argument makes sense to me, but I’m part of the choir. Generally, I think there are a great number of people in both the Mormon and evangelical communities who want to be convinced to be theologically gay-affirming so that they can collapse a growing dissonance in their hearts, but they fail to be able to resolve the “contextual” vs. “universal” dilemma for themselves. For evangelicals, it’s what charismatic leaders of a “moral majority” say is the unchanging Word of God. For Mormons, it’s sustaining Church leaders who claim access to continuing revelation. It all seems contextual to me.

Women’s Ordination and Gay Equality – How They’re Connected

I’ve made this case before, in most detail in my 2011 Dialogue article “Mormon and Queer at the Crossroads,” that women’s roles in the Church and gay equality in the Church are intimately connected. This is not just a conceptual connection…historically, the Church has treated the two issues as though they are connected. In 1993, Boyd Packer linked “gays, feminists and intellectuals” as evils the Church needed to be wary of.

The Church prepared its campaign against gay marriage at the time of the Equal Rights Amendment because it understood the developing logic of civil rights. The Church’s position against the ratification of the ERA included concern that the amendment would encourage a “blurring” of gender roles as well as forcing “states…to legally recognize and protect [same-sex] marriages” because “if the law must be as undiscriminating concerning sex as it is toward race, [then]…laws outlawing wedlock between members of the same sex would be as invalid as laws forbidding miscegenation.” This is a direct quote from the 1980 Church pamphlet “The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue.”

Thus, LDS women who voted against the ERA could do so knowing they were voting against the “evil” of homosexuality that “blurred” gender roles. This idea of keeping “men” and “women” distinct (and not blurred) and that this distinction is what makes Mormonism beautiful, unique and true is what the Church has used to pit gay rights against women’s rights for the last few decades. It has done a good job of it, in my opinion, because here we are almost 40 years later and the discussions among activists and their opponents seem similar to the 1990s…as if precious knowledges are constantly being quashed by the system, and activists have to expend most of their energy just keeping the knowledges alive, much less altering the system.

Sometimes Mormon feminist discussions keep the gay/feminist connection at the forefront (this Exponent II issue is a good example), but I notice that a lot of the times, discussions become dominated by two competing views: (1) “Eve is already equal to Adam as she walks alongside him, so the Church is fine” versus (2) “Eve is not equal to Adam as she walks alongside him, so the Church needs to change.” This is a debate between heterosexist feminisms that assume an Eve wants to walk alongside an Adam, and strangely, that in some fundamental way, all Eves are similar and all Adams are similar. The Church would have you believe that if an Eve dares to walk alongside another woman, that the woman would also be named “Eve,” as opposed to having a entirely different name, personality, individuality. The argument against “blurring the genders” also requires the genders to be static. I find it ridiculous how people argue that Ordain Women wants to “blur the genders” when the Church is the biggest perpetrator of muddying gender to make everything the same. (Btw, the Eve walking next to another woman, or by herself, or however is certainly not on equal footing as the Eve walking next to Adam.)

Ordination in the Church is a unique issue because [nearly] every boy is ordained, and no girl is, so if girls were also ordained, then everyone would be ordained, which wouldn’t work. But given the current set-up, it’s hard for me to not see the priesthood as entirely about a maintenance of heteropatriarchy, funneling people down certain life paths. I find curious this Apr 5th tweet from Joanna Brooks:

ordination isnt my issue but i believe women should be involved in decision making on all issues at all levels of the church.

The Quorum of 12 is a “level”– how can a woman be an apostle without being ordained? I scratch my head at Brooks. Perhaps the problem is that women’s ordination would give the Church a heart attack from an organizational standpoint, so a piecemeal strategy is not exactly preferred, but is the only option. (This is what the Church says when it calls Ordain Women “unhelpful.”) At the same time, given the way the priesthood works, one wonders about the Eve who doesn’t want to marry an Adam. Without a change to the gendering of the priesthood, gay equality is also rendered a distant dream.

Sunday in Outer Blogness: The Gay Agenda Edition!!!

I am so glad to be living in the Internet age!! There is so much fun stuff that happens today that just wasn’t even possible before the Internet. Case in point, a Mormon lady posted about the gay agenda in the Disney movie Frozen — and the whole Internet blossomed with responses!!!

The main themes were the absurdity of finding gay themes in this movie, when one can just as easily find other themes, not to mention other motives on the part of the original poster. And if found, the gay agenda isn’t so bad (see this poem).

Personally, I think it’s clear that stories have messages and reasonable to want to analyze the messages in the films your children watch. I’m much happier having my kids see stories that teach that it’s OK to be different (including being gay) rather than watching stories about how it’s totally cool for the good guys to make fun of the kids who are different (i.e. the geeks and freaks deserve it, lol — they need to conform, or be ashamed if they can’t). Really, the film answers a real need in terms of female representation, but maybe we grown-ups don’t even want to watch that film or the Lego movie (I do!! but that’s me).

Then the original poster came back with the retort that haters gonna hate. Much like Mormons gotta morm.

We have some more updates on the people vs. a certain real-estate corporation, specifically how relevant is it that the contributions are voluntary. If only the modern prophets could perform BoM-style miracles! In other church-watch, academic study of Mormonism is still a bit dangerous.

Then there was a major theme about sexism in the CoJCoLd-S, how girls are taught early to please — remember girls, you are what you wear. A new Ensign article sparked discussions of the problems with modesty and holding women responsible for the actions of those they may tempt:

Because I read the Ensign. And it wasn’t even the ‘rape culture’ endorsing line of “most women get the men they dressed for” article that’s pissing off so many women, and rightly so, because hello, women are raped in military uniforms and corsets and petticoats and the burka and when they’re still young enough for their clothes to be purchased in the little kids section, and sooner or later you have to stop saying ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘she was asking for it by dressing that way’ and admit that you’re excusing your own behavior and the behavior of a whole bunch of other people where we would justifiably put down a dog if he demonstrated that level of aggression.

(And the church’s sex shaming on the other side of the equation is also pretty questionable.)

The disparity in punishment for sex-related sins is enough to make you want to leave in disgust for this alone, yet I wouldn’t be too harsh on those who have reason to stay and work on the problems.

And stuff in the outside world seems to mirror the issues we’re dealing with in Mormondom…

Now for theology and philosophy!!

Is God’s love unconditional?? Here’s one I used to ponder: “So, since Mormons are such a small drop in the bucket of the world population and much of the work that will be done during the Millenium is temple work, why bother now?” Getting information straight from God — and finding it’s not quite right (to say the least) — is still a problem (if you’re aware of it). Alex found some what not to do lessons for laywers in the BoM, and Chris found an American holiday in there!! I like Steve Bloor’s explanation of the difference between Humanism and Atheism. Jen collected faith-affirming pep quotes that stave off cognitive dissonance — cause you don’t want scientists challenging your faith about where the Sun’s light comes from.

Did you ever wonder about the intersection of President’s Day and Black History Month?

To close with some fun, Elder Young is on his way back, Roger Hansen found some joy from simple things, Mormon X is famous, the BunYon reports on paternity pants, Brandon had an amazing voyage, Knotty is stepping out in red, and hawkgrrl drew some conclusions from her weekly polls!!

Happy reading!!

Three Gay Mormon Organizations Become Two

Three gay Mormon organizations are now two, as of January 1st, 2014. North Star has absorbed Evergreen International.

Here is a brief history to contextualize this absorption:

The first gay Mormon organization, Affirmation, was founded in 1977. It was “against” the Church in that, back in the 1970s, one could not both identify as “gay” and “Mormon” without landing in a disciplinary council. Moreover, Affirmation is against the Church today is that it affirms same-sex relationships. So, while Affirmation is celebrating the civil same-sex marriages currently taking place in Utah, the Church and North Star/Evergreen are not particularly happy about them.

The second gay Mormon organization, Evergreen International, was founded in 1989. It came into existence around the time that the Quorum of the Twelve was introducing the phrase “same-sex attraction” to the Church at large. The initial intention for “same-sex attraction” was that it was to be regarded as a non-significant factor (a “temptation”) in one’s life, but many latched onto the concept for identity purposes. As late as 2006, in contradiction to the existence of Evergreen, Apostle Dallin Oaks stated: “If you are trying to live with and maintain ascendancy over same-gender attractions, the best way to do that is to have groups that define their members in terms other than same-gender attractions.” However, the Church a couple years later officially considered “same-sex attraction” a “core characteristic” of a person’s identity. Over the years, Evergreen saw a few talks by high-level leaders, which gave the organization validity.

However, throughout the 1990s and even into the 2000s, Evergreen was in the business of “change therapy” — that one could overcome one’s attractions and essentially become “straight.” By the late-2000s, this idea fell into disfavor even among the most conservative. I would say that in the LDS context, change therapy finally died when influential LDS therapist and NARTH ex-president Dean Byrd died in 2012. (In fact, the NARTH website itself appears to have expired, so I’m wondering if the organization is finished? Edit: Nevermind, here it is. *sigh*)

Evergreen International has thus seen a similar end as the evangelical Exodus International did last year. Too much of a history of “change therapy” to continue with validity. And I’ve also been informed that the organization simply ran out of money.

Meanwhile, North Star came onto the LDS scene in 2006. The basic mantra of the organization is that one can be “same-sex attracted, but not act on it.” This is the current position of the Church, which no longer bothers folks who identify as “gay.” In fact, the more Mormons there are who identify as “gay,” but still uphold the Church’s teachings, the better position the Church thinks it’ll have in pluralist America. I wouldn’t doubt if North Star sees a talk by a high-ranking leader to give it a rubber stamp of approval.

In a current conversation about the merging on the Mormons Building Bridges Facebook page, I found this exchange useful:

If North Star was formed because its founders felt that Evergreen International was too shame-based, then why merge with it?

Ty Mansfield (newly-elected president of North Star):

We’re not “merging” with Evergreen. Per the wording of the announcement, North Star will “absorb certain resources and assets of Evergreen International, and…those resources will operate under the name and direction of North Star International.” It’s more of an acquisition than a merger, and in the agreement we have full freedom to use or not use anything we wish in that acquisition.

When Affirmation decided to take a more faith-friendly stance under current leadership and move closer to the center, but Evergreen could never have done that because we already occupied the more moderate space they would have moved into. There was no place for them to go but into us, so that’s what they did, and Evergreen as an organization will cease to exist, while certain assets we choose to preserve will be maintained with us. Evergreen had baggage and their approach wasn’t always perfect, but they had their virtues and did a lot of good as well. The same could be said for any organization, including Affirmation, CtW [Circling the Wagons], or MBB [Mormons Building Bridges].

Heh, so my suspicions have been correct that Affirmation has recently moved toward the “center” (with its parternship with Mormons Building Bridges, etc.)…

Where is the “left-leaning” gay Mormon to go?

Anyway, generally-speaking, as I noted in a lecture I gave at a gay Mormon conference last year, the Church’s position on gayness has the following history:

1970s: “Marry early, and the sin will go away.”

1980s: “As it turns out, marriage is probably not a cure for the sin.”

1990s: “You have ‘same-sex attraction,’ which isn’t sinful, but the behaviors are.”

2000s: “‘Same-sex attraction’ may be a core characteristic, but don’t call yourself ‘gay.'”

2010s: “All right. ‘Gay’ is fine. But don’t act on it!”

Ah, such a slow, tedious process.

No longer invisible: Latter-Gay Saints

They try to convince gay people that it’s in their best interests to be straight. In fact, they try to convince them that they’re already straight. (from “Ockham’s Razor”)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a gay problem. Specifically, the church has a plan for how to build eternal families — with non-negotiably gender-specific roles — and gay people are the fly in the eternal ointment. If only they could be convinced that they’re not gay — that there’s no such thing as being gay! — and that they can make a straight family work if only they’re faithful enough. Or, failing that, they should just stay single until they’re cured in the afterlife. Then the Plan of Salvation will go back to fitting everyone!

The trouble is that these are real people with real lives that the CoJCoL-dS is performing this experiment on.

One way to combat invisibility is to tell your stories. That’s what 25 authors have come together to do in the anthology Latter-Gay Saints, edited by Gerald S. Argetsinger (with Jeff Laver and Johnny Townsend). The stories are all fiction, but they paint a vibrant and true-to-life portrait of the gay Mormon experience. Naturally, the stories cover topics like missions and mixed-orientation marriage, AIDS and suicide. Some of the most disturbing scenes involve private worthiness interviews in which a priesthood leader probably sincerely believes he’s being helpful through intimate and emotionally invasive counseling sessions where the gay person — by definition — cannot be “worthy.”

The characters in the stories are fleshed-out people whose lives included homosexuality and Mormonism — they’re not just stand-ins in a morality tale of the intersection of these two central topics. A couple of the most outrageous ones hardly touched on Mormonism at all, like Dirk Vanden’s visionary “Gay Messiah” or Ron Oliver’s “Nestle’s Revenge” — which started out wild and exploded from there! Bernard Cooper’s “Hunters and Gatherers” roped a bunch of unsuspecting gay folks into a Mormon-style fun activity (with a poignant edge of keeping up appearances, Mormon-style), and for further fun, Donna Banta threw in a gay Mormon murder mystery! I’d like to discuss them all, but I don’t want to turn this into a tl;dr. People who have read it are invited to please add your own remarks in the comments!

One weakness that disappointed me a bit was how few lesbian stories were included. The introduction repeatedly refers to “gay and lesbian” stories, but the anthology includes only one story where the main character is a gay woman, leaving the lesbian Mormon experience as invisible as ever. Perhaps we’ll hear more from the ladies in the next volume…?

Overall it’s great collection; an enjoyable, edifying, thought-provoking read. Pick up a copy if you’re a fan of gay Mormons or simply of interesting stories!

Because They Couldn’t Very Well Say “Sorry We Insisted You Waste All that Time and Money”

As pretty much everyone already knows, today the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and ruled that the private sponsors of Proposition 8 in California didn’t have the legal right to step in and appeal the ruling by a federal court that Prop 8 was unconstitutional when the state of California declined to do so.

From what I understand, this means that gay marriage will probably soon be legal again in California, and that gay couples in the states that recognize gay marriage can soon get federal benefits, including (I assume? I hope?) green card status in marriages where one spouse is not a citizen. (The immigration thing really upsets me.  I know the tax thing is a drag, but at least you can still live with your chosen partner if you’re both US citizens.)

It only took the church an hour or two to issue a statement lamenting the court’s actions:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

I saw people on Facebook reacting with surprise at the snark in the statement.  Personally, I think snark is a step up for an institution that has regularly condemned people as evil and tools of the devil and destined for everlasting punishment.  Way to go, LDS church!  You’re ever so slightly less nasty now!

So that’s the official response.  I can’t help wondering, though, about the response from people like Pam and Rick Patterson, the Folsom, CA couple of modest means who in 2008 for emptied their savings account so they could donate $50,000 to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.  What are they thinking now?

I posed that question on Facebook.  Several people suggested that the most financially generous Prop 8 supporters are hardened in their resolve that they did the right thing, that they feel persecuted for righteousness’ sake and closer to celestial glory.

And maybe they do, because they need to justify their enormous sacrifice.  It’s hard to admit something so costly and destructive was an easily avoidable mistake.

But I’m willing to give it time.  I know people who donated to earlier fights (the one in Hawaii, for instance) who now feel shame and rage at the church. It was one thing after the defeat of the ERA–the church won that fight–but they have lost this one, and spectacularly. I think a lot of people who donated will quietly concede the matter, and having seen their money and time so wasted, will be much more reluctant to fund the next battle.

As for “supporters of traditional marriage” who didn’t write checks, just made plenty of homophobic statements in public forums, I bet a lot of them will just shrug and say as little as possible now.

And I will add that it delights me to see people who claim to have the gift of prophecy so screwed over by their own bad choices.

 

 

End of Exodus International: what does it mean?

The closure of Exodus International is good news. Unfortunately it’s not the end of “reparative therapy.”

If we remember, reparative therapy these days is not really about attempting to change one’s sexual orientation. That is what it was up through the 1990s.

Last year, even Exodus attempted to distance itself from groups like NARTH who still advocate that you can “fix” the brain to not be gay. Nowadays, reparative therapy means “overcoming homosexual behavior, and taking control over one’s attractions.” Basically, Exodus had ruined its brand-name as a result of its earlier vision, causing a lot of pain in promising orientation change, and could never recover from that while this “new” paradigm emerged. The paradigm of “gay is okay, just don’t act on it” is still upheld by many organizations. So, don’t read too much into the end of Exodus. Just look to Mormonsandgays.org to see reparative therapy alive and well.

In the evangelical world, as NARTH puts in response to Exodus’s closure:

Most of the local Exodus affiliated ministries had started to reorganize into a new organization that began about a year ago, Restored Hope Network.

I just noticed that Evergreen International (the LDS version of Exodus) has a brand new URL: http://www.thessavoice.com/

Click here for a rundown on the 3 main LDS gay orgs: Evergreen, North Star and Affirmation.

Meanwhile, SCOTUS should be issuing its ruling on same-sex marriage mostly likely next Monday or Thursday. Most are predicting a limited ruling (i.e., one that does not apply to the whole country).

Real or pretend change? LDS Inc. on gay scouts…

If you haven’t heard, the LDS Church issued a statement on the policy change the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering that would allow gay scouts – but no gay scout masters.  The statement is a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance – it says everything without saying anything.

Of note, the words “gay” and “homosexual” don’t appear in the statement.

A lot has been made about this statement as it seems laudatory of the change.  But the statement never clearly comes out and says, “Yep, we are fully on board with gay scouts.”  Instead it says things like, “[we] are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain ‘among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.'” And, “We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues.”  In other words, the statement says that the Church is happy with the BSA’s efforts to consider these issues.  That’s all the statement clearly states.

However, it insinuates that the Church is in favor of the change, and that is how most media outlets have interpreted the statement, despite the fact that the statement never explicitly says that it is in support of allowing gay scouts.

So, what’s going on here?  It seems like at least two things were influential in the wording of this statement.

First, the LDS Church can’t openly say that it welcomes gay scouts because it would offend the many homophobic members, like Boyd Packer.  By welcoming gay scouts, that would be tantamount to endorsing gay scouts, and they can’t do that without pissing off potentially thousands of their conservative, bigoted members.  So, the statement insinuates support without stating support.

Second, the BSA policy change reflects an interesting perspective on homosexuality that I think LDS Inc. supports.  Gay scouts are okay, because they are young and, hopefully, can be taught that being gay is wrong.  They’ll grow out of it, so they can tolerate gay scouts.  Plus, they are unlikely to be having gay sex, which is what homophobe Packer seems to really have an issue with.  But gay scoutmasters – well, they can’t be tolerated.  Why?  Because that would suggest that the religion endorses homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle rather than a sinful desire that needs to be overcome.  Thus, the BSA policy change actually already aligns with LDS Inc.’s views towards homosexuals: identifying as having “same-sex attraction” is fine; it’s the same as saying I’m addicted to alcohol or porn.  But actually embracing your homosexual orientation and living as a homosexual is wrong, because that undermines the idea that homosexuality is sinful (just like saying “I occasionally watch porn and feel no guilt over it” or “I drink alcohol socially and am a responsible adult” both illustrate that sin is socially constructed).

So, young gays are okay.  But old gays are a threat to the Mormon sacred canopy under which acting gay is sinful.  This isn’t change on the part of the Church; this is insinuating being progressive without actually being progressive.