How to be homophobes, by Linda and Richard Eyre

Unfortunately, my Google News feed on the word “Mormon” regularly pulls up articles on I rarely read anything on; I’m not a fan of propaganda. But I saw one on same-sex marriage and figured I’d take a look. I should have known better…

The article, Use Spiritual Message to Share Same-Sex Marriage Beliefs, is by Linda and Richard Eyre, who apparently are important because they started and have written some books.The Eyres get one thing correct: Trying to explain why the LDS Church opposes same-sex marriage based on logic (they say “political arguments”) or reason (they use “historical arguments”) doesn’t work,

You can talk till you are blue in the face about how marriage has always been between a man and a woman, or about how we should honor the California popular vote, or about how kids could become gender-confused, and you will just sound more narrow and prejudiced and homophobic than ever to your opponent.

Yep. That’s right. Mormons will sound more “narrow[-minded]” and “homophobic” the more they try to justify their bigotry. Why? Because it’s still bigotry.

This is pretty simple to understand in mathematical terms:

justifying bigotry = bigotry^10

I am, of course, just making that up. But that’s how it seems. When you try to justify your bigotry, you really just come across as a bigger bigot.

So, what do the Eyres suggest instead?

We’ve taken to just saying, “Let me just spend a minute telling you about a spiritual belief that I think will explain our position.” Then we say something like this:

Mormons have a highly family-centric theology, believing that God is literally our Spiritual Father and that we lived as spirit persons with our heavenly parents before coming to this earth. Marriage and procreation provide the physical bodies that allow additional spiritual siblings to come from the spiritual pre-life into mortality. And we believe that families can continue to be together in the hereafter.

In this context, marriage between a man and a woman, and having children together, lies at the center of God’s plan and is a core purpose and reason for this earth and our life on it. Hopefully, understanding that Mormons have these beliefs makes it easier for you to see why we want to protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and for you to understand that our church is not anti-gay but pro-marriage.

We always try to mention that we view all people as our brothers and sisters and we add our personal belief that we favor full-rights-giving civil unions, and that it is the divine and eternally purposed concept of marriage that we are trying to protect.

Making a spiritual statement like this usually ends the debate. It doesn’t win the debate or convert or even interest people in our beliefs, but it raises the conversation to a level where at least people can agree to disagree. Whether someone is intrigued by the belief, or whether he or she thinks we are crazy, it’s hard to go back to a political argument after you’ve made a spiritual statement, and in the context of what we believe about the purpose and plan of mortality and eternity others can at best respect us, and at worst at least grasp why we have to try to protect traditional marriage.

The second paragraph is important and useful – Mormons oppose homosexuality because they are supernatural-gender-essentialists: they believe gender is spiritual, not just biological (never mind the socio-cultural, of course). That does factor into their homophobia because you can’t change genders; god willed that spirits be male and female, and they must be correspondingly masculine and feminine, or the whole Plan of Salvation falls apart. Okay. Got it.

But, and this is the important part, the leap of logic in paragraph three is apparently invisible to the Eyres. The Eyres say that their belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism justifies their opposition to same-sex marriage. That is a non sequitur, pending qualification. If they had said, “Our belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism precludes Mormons from performing marriages between same-sex couples in Mormon ceremonies,” I’d have no qualms with the statement (their still bigots, but it’s their religion and they can do what they want in their bigoted religion). But that’s not what they said. They said, “Our belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism forces us to prevent any same-sex couples of any religious/irreligious persuasion getting married.” How? That is a non sequitur. Just because the Eyre’s are bigots and the leadership of the LDS Church is bigoted, in thought and in practice, doesn’t mean they have to force their bigotry on the broader society. Ergo, the Eyres’s statement and claim falls flat.

If I met the Eyres and struck up a conversation with them; and if the topic of same-sex marriage came up; and if they used this “spiritual statement” to defend their bigotry; it would not end the debate with me. I’d tell them they belong to a bigoted religion, with a bigoted theology, and, even so, that does not mean they have to try to force their bigotry on people who don’t share their worldview.

(Note: Don’t they kind of remind you of these two?)


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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110 Responses

  1. SLK in SF says:

    Thanks, profxm, for your response. I should admit here that I’ve had to cope with little bigotry from my own LDS family, which I know colors my thinking, and I know this has made me somewhat less bitter than many who’ve suffered at the hands of LDS, Inc. than have I. But for that very reason I can’t help but think that just as violence begets violence, so does unnecessary antagonism. Had I been on the receiving end of the kind of treatment some of my queer ex-Mo friends got from their families, I don’t doubt that I’d be bitter or dead.

    That said, I agree that making people uncomfortable is essential. I just think there are different ways of accomplishing that. We need fighters as much as we need lovers; but we need to be smarter about how we engage in either activity. My two cents’ worth. 🙂

  2. chanson says:

    Oh, man! Now I can’t comply with TT’s request because it would make Wry’s funny not make any sense…

  3. Chino Blanco says:

    Ha! That’s some powerful jujitsu, TT. And, yes, this thread is a trap. Can we now exit with your permission blessing?


  4. Kaimi says:

    I for one am glad there is no policy against threadjacks.

  5. Ms. Jack says:

    #21 Kuri & #26 Profxm ~ Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Here is a question for you.

    Say that we have a Latter-day Saint who agrees with the church’s stance that homosexual relationships are wrong and never wants to see homosexual marriages offered in the temples. However, she is politically in favor of LGBT rights (including the right to the term “marriage“) and she treats her LGBT friends no differently than she treats anyone else. She might sometimes try to dissuade people from engaging in homosexual relationships because of her religious beliefs, but she recognizes that the only power she has in the matter is gentle persuasion.

    Is this person a bigot?

  6. profxm says:

    Ms. Jack,

    Good question. I think it’s fair to say that bigotry is a continuum, not an either/or dichotomy. I would see hypothetical female #56 as being much less bigoted than Boyd Packer. The fact that she agrees with the church’s position opposing homosexual relationships is very disturbing and I would want to know what her justification is for that. But I would also admire her efforts to empower LGBTQs, however limited they are.

    As much as it pains me to say it, because I want so much to believe that I’m not, I think everyone has at least a little bigotry in them. I’m a sociologist and I talk about prejudice and discrimination all the time. I’m well aware of these issues. I’m also aware of who the targets of prejudice and discrimination are most likely to be. But I’m also fully aware of the fact that part of the reason why humans are so prejudicial has to be biological – it is a simple heuristic to determine who is a friend (those like me) and who is a foe (those who are not like me). So, despite my “enlightened” views on this, I find myself occasionally thinking prejudicial thoughts about various groups. However, I often catch myself (because of my training) and restructure those thoughts so I don’t fall prey to the fundamental attribution error or confirmation bias.

    My point being – bigotry is a continuum. I would never call a black person a n*****, but some times I think that maybe there are elements of inner-city black culture that are problematic and contribute to some of the problems faced by inner-city blacks. Likewise, poor-rural whites have some cultural elements that cause them problems. Yes, most of the reason these groups are poor and impoverished are structural and external to their culture and community, but some of it is cultural. That isn’t popular to say, and seems somewhat prejudicial. But pointing out some negative elements of culture is a far cry from consider other humans inferior.

    So, I’m perfectly fine with the idea that some people are more bigoted than others. Hypothetical female #56 is less bigoted than Boyd Packer. But she is not an advocate of gay rights.

    So, is a she a bigot? Kind of. But, then, so am I… Kind of.

  7. kuri says:


    I’d generally rather label the behavior or belief than the person. In the case of Sister Hypothetical, she doesn’t seem to believe that gay people and gay relationships are just as good as straight people and straight relationships. Not really. So I’d say yes, she has a little bigotry in her.

  8. Leo says:

    A person who might try to dissuade people from engaging in homosexual relationships because of her religious beliefs doesn’t actually treat her LGBT friends the same as she treats everyone else, and it’s sort of remarkable that she would claim she does.

  9. Ms. Jack says:

    Well guys, here is what I think:

    You are just as bigoted towards core Mormon beliefs as you complain the Mormons are towards homosexual relationships. You do not treat the Mormons the same as you treat other people, because you try to dissuade them from believing that gay relationships are wrong.

    You’re perfectly right to complain about Mormon political activism against gays, because they are using the government to discourage gay behavior, and you are not using the government to discourage them from being Mormon or believing that being gay is wrong. Fair complaint there.

    But even if the Mormons ceased their political activism, you would still be here declaring that their beliefs about relationships are inferior to yours and worthy of contempt. You are not going to be happy with Mormon beliefs until they think exactly like you do on the subject of homosexuality. You are intolerantly devoted to your own opinions and prejudices. By the definition that Kuri offered on this thread, that is bigotry.

    Now, it’s okay to be “bigoted” and “intolerant” about some things. I’m intolerant of slavery, child labor, most abortions, racism, and sexism. I do not believe those behaviors are good for the human race and I often have no problem disrespecting them (though in some cases, I believe keeping them legal in the name of freedom is the right thing to do). I do try to show compassion and respect for some of the people who engage (or, historically, have engaged) in those behaviors, because I believe that the reasons for endorsing them are complex and not an automatic sign of evil. If somebody told me that I was bigoted against those things, I would shrug and feel no guilt.

    You ostensibly feel the same way about religions that teach that homosexual relationships are wrong. Fair enough.

    But Mormons would probably say the same thing about their beliefs concerning homosexual relationships. They don’t believe that homosexual relationships are good for humanity and they feel no guilt in opposing them or being labeled “bigots” for opposing them. The only difference lies in where they appeal for that belief. They appeal to religion; you appeal to science. It’s not “which of you is a bigot,” it’s “whose bigotry is justifiable?”

    For my own part? I don’t consider someone a bigot just because they think that my lifestyle choices are inferior, or they think that my religious beliefs are wrong. I don’t consider someone a bigot for respectfully trying to persuade me of their own position. I think profxm’s “everyone is a bigot to some extent” observation is very irenic, but I would rather have fewer people be bigots in exchange for a more potent application of the word. The only bigots I’m interested in acknowledging are the ones who use force—scornful ridicule or misrepresentation of what I believe, legal action against it, or physical violence—to try and stop me from believing what I do and being what I am. I’d rather live and let live.

    That’s just me, and I don’t expect many here to agree with me.

    I’m on my finals week and may not have time to return to this thread anytime soon. Thank you all for the thoughtful discussion.

  10. Hellmut says:

    Whether homosexual relationships are good or bad is ultimately an empirical question, Ms. Jack. We do not need to rely on beliefs to determine the effects of homosexuality. We can observe them with our senses.

    What may constitute good or bad is more complicated but I am willing to accept Mormon ideas about that as long as they are specified in terms of causal relationships.

    There is not much that Mormon authorities say about sexuality that can be sustained in light of the facts. I do not say that gleefully but find it sad because every time we subscribe to a falsehood, we are compromising our ability to understand the cosmos and our environment. Often this hurts us.

  11. profxm says:

    Ms. Jack,

    In a sense, I agree with what you’re saying. Yes, I’m bigoted toward a Mormon belief (it’s really not that core, per the Articles of Faith), the belief that god makes everyone either “masculine male” or “feminine female”, in that I will not accept it or even tolerate it. I’m just as bigoted towards this belief as I am toward the belief that blacks are inferior to whites. And if that puts egg on my face, I’ll embrace it wholeheartedly.

    Where I take issue with this, however, is in how you’re framing this. It’s kind of like you’re trying to say, “Well, you’re just as bigoted as Mormons are because you reject something about them and therefore reject them.” I don’t think that’s accurate. Yes, I reject a Mormon belief as being hateful. That’s true. But I don’t reject a core element of Mormon identity, like, say Mormon’s right to participate in temple ceremonies, and actively work to prevent them from doing so. And I don’t reject Mormons, just some of their more esoteric beliefs. I reject a completely non-falsifiable and intolerant belief made up in the 19th Century by a guy who claimed revelation from god (or if you want to go with Biblical prohibitions, some guy(s) a few thousand years ago who did the same thing and for which there is a stunning lack of evidence for their revelatory powers). Mormons reject an entire group of people based on a characteristic that is pretty core to their identity – their sexual orientation. And the preponderance of evidence suggests that sexual orientation is not chosen (and per Alan’s argument, even if it is chosen, it still shouldn’t be rejected). Mormons are choosing to believe in something that is hateful, resulting in the rejection of somewhere between 3% and 5% of the population. I’m choosing to reject a belief of Mormons that is based on nothing more than the often inchoate ramblings of Joseph Smith. Those are not the same thing.

    You do not treat the Mormons the same as you treat other people, because you try to dissuade them from believing that gay relationships are wrong.

    True. And this is bad or immoral or unethical why? It’s not like I’m advocating that we lynch them. I’m treating them differently because they are bigots.

    you would still be here declaring that their beliefs about relationships are inferior to yours and worthy of contempt.

    True. And this is bad or immoral or unethical why? They are inferior and contemptible beliefs.

    You are not going to be happy with Mormon beliefs until they think exactly like you do on the subject of homosexuality. You are intolerantly devoted to your own opinions and prejudices.

    Mostly true. Where the difference lies, which you seem not to be able to see, is that my opinion is not prejudicial. I’m also open to being persuaded otherwise. If it suddenly were revealed that homosexuality is exclusively a choice-based lifestyle; and if it were suddenly revealed that homosexuality is very, very harmful, both physically and mentally to those who engage in it; and if it were suddenly revealed that the mountains of evidence illustrating otherwise was all fraudulent, then I’d be open to reconsidering my position. If there was any apparent drawback to homosexuality, I would be open to changing my position. Why? Because I am, in fact, open-minded and skeptical. I am willing to examine evidence and change my views on homosexuality. The evidence says homosexuality is a perfectly acceptable, normal, sexual orientation with virtually no ill consequences (and the consequences that are negative are largely the result of social rejection and not the result of being homosexual). So, you’re equating my very reasoned, informed position on homosexuality with belief in 19th Century ramblings by a very ill-informed man who claimed to receive revelations. If, Ms. Jack, you want to call me “intolerantly devoted to your own opinions and prejudices,” I think you’re going to fail in that categorization. I’m quite open to persuasion. But where is the evidence to contradict the evidence science has brought to this question?

    They dont believe that homosexual relationships are good for humanity and they feel no guilt in opposing them or being labeled bigots for opposing them. The only difference lies in where they appeal for that belief. They appeal to religion; you appeal to science. Its not which of you is a bigot, its whose bigotry is justifiable?

    Sure. I’ll go with this. But if my rejection of their bigotry is based on evidence and their bigotry is based on no evidence, who is holding the prejudice here? What’s more, prejudice is:

    (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge (Merriam-Webster).

    I’m not “pre-judging” Mormons without evidence. I know what they believe and they don’t deny it. I’m judging them based exactly on what they believe. That isn’t prejudice. That isn’t even bigotry. I’m simply saying that I disagree with what Mormons think and find it contemptible. How is that prejudice?

    Contrast that with the Mormon position on homosexuality? How many Mormons have read the scientific literature, talked with homosexuals, and really examined this issue and still remain bigots? My sense is very, very few. Thus, many Mormons are exhibiting prejudice – they have prejudged homosexuality without just grounds. So, once again, you’re claiming I’m prejudiced against Mormons (which, in reality, I’m not, given the definition of prejudice) and that Mormons are prejudiced against homosexuals (which, they are, given the definition of prejudice), and that the two are equivalent. I don’t buy it.

  12. Seth R. says:

    “Whether homosexual relationships are good or bad is ultimately an empirical question, Ms. Jack. We do not need to rely on beliefs to determine the effects of homosexuality. We can observe them with our senses.”

    I think this is naive.

    You simply assume that the scientific data is going to force the same conclusions for everyone. It isn’t. There’s never been a time in history where everyone drew the same moral and social conclusions from the same scientific data and I doubt there ever will be.

    Science simply has nothing to say about normatives – in and of itself. It never says “should.” It is not a source of morality. You get that from somewhere else. Call it “god” or not if you wish. But you get normative meaning in the world from somewhere other than science.

  13. profxm says:

    Seth, I’m not sure I agree. I understand that many people say science cannot lead to morals or principles. But to assume there is no connection between the two is actually the naive position. Science can absolutely inform morals, and often does. The very issue we’re discussing – homosexuality – is a great example. Prior to the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a disorder by the scientific establishment. As science advanced and learned more about it, it ceased to be consider a disorder. Now, a disorder is not, technically, a moral judgment about a behavior or characteristic. It’s more an indication of whether or not it causes problems in people’s lives, which can be closely related to prevailing social norms.

    Since science does not consider homosexuality a disorder, and since science sees virtually no negative consequences from homosexuality (almost all of the negative consequences are, as I pointed out earlier, the result of continued rejection of homosexuality), this clearly can inform one’s ethical position on homosexuality. Someone could continue to reject homosexuality despite the evidence outlined above, but they cannot do so based on the science. They have to do so in spite of the science. Science strongly leans one way on this point.

    So, trying to claim there is a “wall” between science and morality is not accurate. There might be something more akin to a mole hill. And with homosexuality the science has basically flattened the mole hill to virtually nothing, making it very easy to derive an ethical position on homosexuality that is affirming.

  14. SLK in SF says:

    Check this out. The Eyres have another post up that actually made me laugh out loud.

    Pre-existence helps parenting

    Not because of the title I confess that I’m still rather fond of the notion of a pre-existence but because of the risible (IMO) disconnect here:

    The old “nature vs. nurture” debate seems incomplete. Here are these two kids (or three or more), and all have the same environment, and the same heredity, so how do we account for the vast differences?

    Is there something beyond genetics and surroundings? Could there be a third variable?

    Mormon parents, of course, know that there is! The pre-mortal life is the biggest variable of all. Our children had their beginnings (and developed their personalities) long before genetic heredity and mortal environment came into play.

    Most moms know the personality of their newborns even before they bring them home from the hospital. They are who they already are. Their unique natures and characteristics have been developing over the past half of eternity.

    Knowing that should change the whole paradigm of Mormon parenting. Our challenge, through observation and prayer, is to find out who each child really is, to discover his gifts, her ways of learning, his interests, her motivations. It is like an intriguing puzzle that we put together one piece at a time.

    How many of us Mormon parents have gazed into the eyes of a child and asked “Who are you really?”

    If only more Mormon parents would honestly ask that question and honestly accept the answer. I don’t know the Eyres, but one has to wonder if they’ve considered what, to me, are some pretty startling implications in this piece.

    One more snippet:

    Perhaps the worst parenting metaphor we have ever heard is, “Children are like lumps of clay, and parents are the sculptors.” We’ve never had a “lump,” have you? A better comparison is, “Children are like seedlings, and parents are the gardeners.” Little green seedling shoots may look alike, but some are oaks, some are elms, some are pines and each is unique, eternally unique.

    And as we Mormon parents recognize the third variable and respectfully try to put together each child-puzzle, we will be the best parents we can be and give our children the best chance to become the best that they can be.

  15. Kaileo says:

    Sorry, Ms. Jack, but your contention that people are being bigoted towards your beliefs is a massive FAIL.
    Here’s the difference: Gays don’t want to take away your right to practice your religion as you see fit. The cause for gay marriage is a secular one, not a religious one. You’ll still get to decide who joins your church and who you will marry. At the other end, the Mormons are reaching beyond religion into the secular world in their quest to deny gay marriage, one of the civil rights given in the USA.
    So one belief (Mormons are bad!) has no real consequence since it causes you no real harm. The other belief (Mormons against gay marriage) DOES cause consequences because it denies civil rights.
    Ease up on your persecution complex… giving everyone the same civil, secular rights does not impact your religious beliefs.

  16. Seth R. says:

    Kaileo, does this mean that you disagree with Kuri’s definition of bigotry?

  17. Kaileo says:

    In what way?

  18. Chino Blanco says:

    I don’t know the Eyres, either, but I do know that my own Mormon parents never once came close to discovering my secret superhero identity. And I remember how their apparent lack of discernment raised some serious questions about the Mormon paradigm that I managed to keep tucked away out-of-sight on the proverbial shelf alongside my Aquaman gear for years before gaining the courage to live honestly.

    ETA: Above silly comment submitted in response to SLK in SF’s link.

  19. Kaileo says:

    I’ve seen Chino Blanco on Youtube forums, and my parents also had no clue. They especially had no clue about the anguish I was going thru as my orientation clashed with my religion. And when they did find out (my brother outed me a Christmas) they decided to ignore science and trust in their religion. They took it even farther… they disowned me. That was 10 years ago. I’m fine now, but I share this because too often we forget that real lives are involved here. This really impacts me and many other REAL people.

    Clinging to antiquated beliefs (one man, one woman) says that I can’t have the happiness that marriage brings. It also tells me that Mormons and their supporters think I’m less than them… that I don’t deserve the same protections and benefits that they do. They think I’m not good enough… plain and simple.

    They can say until they’re blue in the face that they’re not anti-gay…. but it still feels that they are.

  20. Seth R. says:


    In #58 Kuri indicated that considering someone inferior for their lifestyle choices (or maybe even beliefs?) counted as bigotry in some degree or other. But you seem to define it differently as requiring someone to actually cause real-world changes to the targeted group before it counts as “bigotry” per se.

    Does bigotry really require harmful action before it can be considered bigotry? Or is a mere mindset sufficient to qualify?

    By the way, nice blog. I’ve always liked interior home design since high school, though I’m not all that great at it.

  21. kuri says:

    In #58 Kuri indicated that considering someone inferior for their lifestyle choices (or maybe even beliefs?) counted as bigotry in some degree or other.


    That’s pure extrapolation on your part. I didn’t make any such generalization.

  22. kuri says:


    Just FYI, Jack isn’t Mormon. (Not even Jack Mormon.) She’s Protestant.

  23. Kaileo says:

    Thanks for the blog compliment, Seth. I love doing design… something I surpressed when I was a Mormon, because it was “too gay”.

    I suppose there is truth to the “bigotry in your heart” idea, but I’m a practical man. I’m not going to worry about it until it’s a problem… til there’s a tangible issue.

    Kuri, thanks for letting me know about Ms. Jack. She has quite the interest in Mormonism, no?

    Now who can tell me how to get my photo up in the profile box? Can’t find the link anywhere!

  24. Chino Blanco says:

    IIRC, I set up my WordPress avatar at …

  25. Seth R. says:

    Kuri, I re-read your comment several times before I summarized it. If you want to clarify, feel free.

    Jack has a Mormon husband, so even though she’s pretty firm in her own Evangelical faith, she’s kinda stuck with the “Mormon problem.”

    I’ve talked with her about this, and both of us have our misgivings about the pro-Prop 8 thing (to greater or lesser extents). We just tend to get turned off by the incoherent rage that seems to surround the issue. And neither do we appreciate our core faiths being defined by a transitory political issue.

    At least I don’t. Perhaps Jack has a different take. But I’m not entirely certain she’ll be back for this particular discussion, so you may have to settle for my explanation.

  26. kuri says:


    I discussed a specific scenario and made no generalizations at all in my comment. I’m not really sure why or how you decided to turn that into a general statement defining bigotry on my behalf.

  27. Seth R. says:

    Seemed like a useful enough discussion point. What other reason would I need?

    I take it you disagree with point made in the summary?

  28. Holly says:

    We just tend to get turned off by the incoherent rage that seems to surround the issue. And neither do we appreciate our core faiths being defined by a transitory political issue.

    I’m sure then that you can understand how people were turned off by the incoherent hysterical fear surrounding the issue: “scary scary threat to traditional families…. scary scary threat to the constitution…. scary scary cause of armageddon”

    I’m also sure you can understand that people do not appreciate having what they consider a part of their core identity dismissed as a “transitory political issue.”

    And I’m also sure that you’ll inform the brethren that you were unhappy with their insistence on spending so much of the church’s collective resources on a “transitory political issue,” since after all it was the church who picked the fight. It’s not like anyone sat around saying, “Hey, how can we get the LDS church to come out frothing at the mouth about something, and thus sink its approval rating? I know, let’s bait it on the issue of gay marriage!”

  29. kuri says:

    I take it you disagree with point made in the summary?

    That is correct.

  30. Kaileo says:

    Holly, thanks for that! You’re right! Nothing hurts more than to have people dismiss something SO integral to my life as a “transitory political issue”! The reality is that Prop 8 and related issues like DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) are not just about marriage or military service, but whether my fellow citizens are going to allow me to be treated fairly, and to have the same rights they do. Most gays I know look at this period of time as our own civil rights movement, just like the black movement of the 1960’s.

    “Transitory political issue”?? Really? Gotta say, Seth, that was a pretty thoughtless remark of yours.

  31. Seth R. says:

    No Kaileo, it was a premeditated remark.

    I’ve got bigger worries on my mind than whether gays get their rights formalized under the “marriage” label, or whether they get them under other forms of the law.

    The ongoing problem of the poor, the stability of world politics, the defining theological paradigms for the 21st century, the exploitative structure of our national commercial and financial system.

    Honestly, I think gays are – on the whole – being persecuted by Bank of America and Wells Fargo far more than they ever will be by the LDS Church. I’ve actually filed bankruptcy for several gay couples and individuals in the last few years, so this isn’t a hypothetical question for me.

  32. Kaileo says:

    When you say things like that, what I hear is, “I really don’t care about gays”. It’s a common response that I hear, especially from heterosexual religious people. It’s more of the same… we gays are certainly used to that kind of attitude.

    You get turned off by the “rage”… ever wonder where that rage comes from? No wonder your “core beliefs” get defined by a “transitory political issue”… you bring it on yourself.

    Premeditated remark, huh? Ever considered that you might be part of the problem?

  33. Holly says:

    It’s precisely because I care so much about things like hunger, poverty, violence against women, sex trafficking of children etc that I want to see the LGBT granted the same rights as everyone else NOW. Not only is the right thing to do, but it would be really, really easy if the bigots and homophobes like John McCain and the LDS corporate church would just get out of the way. And then the vast resources of time, money and energy currently being expended by people on all sides of this issue could be turned to problems that have proven more intractable.

    So it’s not just rage and fear mongering that is incoherent–it’s also arrogant dismissals like Seth R’s, which is not only nonsensical but indefensible even in the terms in which he frames it. And that’s why not only his religion but his personal ethics are so thoroughly tainted by his reaction to a political issue that should be far more transitory than the leaders of his church will let it be.

  34. Seth R. says:

    I care about gays as much as I care about anyone. It’s just that I’ve got my own social causes that I’m passionate about – that impact everyone in my community, and not just one group.

    I don’t view Prop 8 as half as serious a blow to the gay community as many here do. California was already offering the same rights to gays as heterosexuals under other laws. Not all rights necessarily, but certainly most of them. Prop 8 was a setback – not a disaster. That’s part of my reason for not appreciating the tone of many here (which, by the way, I’ll be the first to admit is light years better than the borderline psychotic blathering going on over at places like Queerty or the Huffington Post). But that’s only part of the reason. Part of the other reason is I just don’t see much point in losing your cool in general. It gets in the way of getting actual results.

    I thought Prop 8 was misguided. I opposed it. I’ll still oppose it as unfair. You can read my post opposing it the August before the election here:

    I’ve been trying to promote a viable compromise position since day one. I want gays to have the same rights. But don’t ask me to join your little rage party. Not interested.

    It seems to me if you guys were being sensible about this, you’d be willing to accept your allies where you can find them. But if you want, you can continue with the anger approach. Maybe if you continue with it long enough, you’ll figure out why the pro gay marriage side LOST in California, despite superiority in funding, political positioning, and momentum.

    The fact that you’re willing to sit here and “take it out on me” (one of the few Mormons who’s actually been trying to bridge gaps here) – demonstrates to me that you care more about your resentment, than you do about getting equal rights for gays.

  35. chanson says:

    Part of the other reason is I just dont see much point in losing your cool in general. It gets in the way of getting actual results.

    I know I’m little miss “civil dialog” around here, but I actually disagree with your statement. I think that important issues often require multiple approaches. Civil dialog is absolutely critical, and yet there’s also a time and a place for getting angry. See Greta Christina’s piece on this.

    It seems to me if you guys were being sensible about this, youd be willing to accept your allies where you can find them.

    Absolutely. That’s part of the reason we’re having this discussion.

    The fact that youre willing to sit here and take it out on me (one of the few Mormons whos actually been trying to bridge gaps here) demonstrates to me that you care more about your resentment, than you do about getting equal rights for gays.

    Seth, you know very well that we appreciate your coming here to engage us in discussion. You also know people are going to disagree with your position here, passionately. It doesn’t mean we’re persecuting you. Are you objecting to Kaleo’s question about whether you’re part of the problem?

    As far as Holly calling your position arrogant is concerned, you chose to make vague accusations of “incoherent rage” over a “transitory political issue,” and people are reacting to that choice of terminology, not attacking you personally.

  36. Kaileo says:

    Seth, I sincerely and wholeheartedly appreciate your opposition to Prop 8 and your support of equal rights for everyone. I really, really do.

    That said, regarding the rage that you despise… have you ever wondered WHERE the rage comes from? Or is it irrelevant to you? Does the rage exist in a vacuum, or could there possibly be a fairly valid reason behind it?

    Yes, I know that it’s not a practical way to approach things… but the rage that was expressed after Prop 8 (with the exception of the few lawbreakers), along with the dissappointment and hurt, was completely valid.

  37. Seth R. says:

    Kaileo, I’m interested in results and getting things done. The question of whether someone’s anger is “valid” or justified, or whatever is only of interest to me insofar as it impacts the desired results.

    Chanson, interesting article. But it would be more compelling if the gay side actually had a “good cop.”

    Who’s the “good cop?”

    And I think something is being missed here. As far as I can tell there is a subtle split going on in the leadership of the LDS Church and it’s attitudes toward homosexuality. I would think that gay activists would be well-advised to take advantage of that fracture – rather than doing their best to seal it back up into a united hostile front by trying to generalize the debate into how much Mormonism or the LDS Church sucks in general.

    What the gay community is doing right now kind of reminds me of what George Bush Jr. did with his “Axis of Evil” speech. He hijacked Korean peace talks, undermined the moderate Khatami in Iran – paving the way for a reactionary backlash, and squandered the sympathy that we already had from our European and other allies after the September 11 disaster.

    Lashing out often feels good – but it has its consequences. In this case, a hardening of the opposing faction.

  38. chanson says:

    Whos the good cop?

    She answered that question in her article:

    mild-mannered lobbying and electoral-politics groups like the Human Rights Campaign Fund

    Also note:

    As far as I can tell there is a subtle split going on in the leadership of the LDS Church and its attitudes toward homosexuality. I would think that gay activists would be well-advised to take advantage of that fracture

    Sure, but that’s a pretty complex strategy you’re recommending, especially considering how many gay activists knew zero about the LDS Church before the Prop. 8 fiasco.

  39. Kaileo says:

    “is only of interest to me insofar as it impacts the desired results.”

    So the answer is: no, you don’t care. But you know, being too practical about something can backfire. People need to be heard.

    Lashing out? You really think that the protests after the vote qualifies as lashing out? C’mon, it’s simply good old-fashioned democracy. But most Mormons do seem to have a well-honed persecution complex, so perhaps that’s why they felt that way. And since I feel that I deserve to be heard, then I must needs listen as to why Mormons feel persecuted.

    I’d be interested to know what this “subtle shift” is, that you feel is happening. Boyd Packer seemed to extinguish any hope of that this last conference.

    That said, the Mormon church is unlikely to be the main focus of national gay activist groups… they may be wealthy, but the Mormons are otherwise a very small church… only 0.20% of the world’s pop is Mormon, and even in the US, it’s less than 2%.

  40. Kaileo says:

    Furthermore, Seth, you said, “What the gay community is doing right now kind of reminds me of what George Bush Jr. did with his Axis of Evil speech.”

    I’m sorry, but I find that comparison pretty extreme and not realistic. What specific things are the “gay community” doing that would warrant such a comparison?

    And you know what? Demonizing the Mormon church HAS worked for the gay community. Support of gay marriage in California is now at the reverse percentages… 50% support it vs. 45% opposed. The thing is, most Mormons tend to think that the gay community should somehow be making nice with them (“the gays are lashing out at us!”), when in fact, the church makes a GREAT villain!

    Sad, but true.

  41. Kaileo says:

    (I will add that, it’s not hard to demonize the Mormon church… being opposed to equal rights is a pretty rotten thing to do. The Mormons pretty much do their own demonizing.)

  42. Seth R. says:

    Actually Boyd K. Packer’s speech was a good example of how this shift is occurring. What people don’t know about that incident is that it’s standard practice for Apostles and other speakers to look over their talks the day after General Conference concludes and make any changes they want to make. In Packer’s case – he softened the language.

    Now, I know gay protesters like to claim credit for that – but their planned protests occurred well after the standard revision period. So Packer’s revisions would have occurred in absence of any protester activity.

    And we’re talking about the apostle with the biggest reputation for conservatism among the Twelve. And even he is softening the rhetoric. Not a huge change in the text – I know – but it seems to indicate even larger shifts in opinion within the quorum.

    That ought to be encouraging – if everyone wasn’t so busy making up insults about him, perhaps they might have noticed.

    Kaileo, if you want to talk about results – we need to be clear which results we are talking about. Are you talking about the campaign to make gay marriage happen in California? Or are you talking about trying to influence the LDS Church’s stance and make life better for gays living in a Mormon context? I was talking about the latter – something I consider much more important than Prop 8 (the legal impact of which has been rather exaggerated in my opinion).

    Chanson, that article didn’t point to anyone in the gay community playing good cop with the LDS Church. As far as I was aware, the Human Rights Campaign is not in contact with the LDS Church. So I think my question remains.

  43. chanson says:

    Seth — I brought up her article as an explanation of the principle that civil dialog isn’t the only strategy (and that the existence of angry activists doesn’t necessarily undermine the efforts of those who seek compromise and understanding).

    Regarding who’s the “good cop” negotiating with the LDS church: I understand that groups such as Equality Utah have attempted to negotiate with LDS leaders, inasmuch as LDS leaders will grant them an audience. (Somebody who knows more about the specifics of gay organizing in Utah can correct me and/or give details.)

    One thing to remember is that the LDS leaders don’t have to negotiate with the moderates. The CoJCoL-dS is not a public/democratic institution that is required to listen to people. And without the angry agitation in the public sphere, the brethren would probably still be telling themselves that they can safely just ignore any moderate, civil organizers who come knocking on their door.

  44. profxm says:

    I want to agree with Seth on something!!!

    It seems to me if you guys were being sensible about this, youd be willing to accept your allies where you can find them.

    I agree 100%. I’m all about finding allies. I think where this thread is bickering is in whether or not it’s okay to call Mormonism (the religion) “bigoted”, and Mormons who oppose same-sex marriage rights “bigots”. I don’t think Seth is a bigot (in this regard; as I mentioned earlier, I think we’re probably all at least a little bigoted). And I see Seth as something of an ally.

    But, and here’s the problem, Seth doesn’t want us, those outside the religion who are critical of its work to disempower homosexuals, to call his religion “bigoted” because it is still his religion and he’s not bigoted. I’ve tried to be very careful in my language in this thread and not say that all Mormons are bigoted in this regard. Seth is an example of one who is not (and I know others).

    But the leaders of the institution are bigots. And the policies of the institution are bigoted. So, while I see Seth as an ally on this position (though, perhaps, one not doing as much as he could as I’d love to see him withhold tithing or make some other stand against the religion until it changes its position), I have a hard time agreeing to his terms. The institution and its leadership are bigots, despite some of the members not being bigots. So long as the leadership continues the way it has, they will be met with contempt on my end.

    Oh, and Seth, do you really think Packer edited his own talk? Or do you think the bureaucrats who run the Church and the PR department swooped in on him and “forced” the changes? My guess is more the latter than the former.

  45. Seth R. says:

    I don’t think withholding my tithing would change much, and it would actually put me in less of a position to do anything (not that I’m pretending to be some dynamo of insider influence or anything). Besides, I have no problem contributing to the LDS fund for church buildings, overhead, and even shopping mall projects. Contributions from the actual LDS Church were pretty minimal on the Prop 8 issue (mostly just paying for plane tickets and such – though it did rather irk me that the LDS Church wasn’t more forthcoming about it). So I wouldn’t feel like my tithing was really being used on stuff like this.

    To be honest, if I really wanted to protest with funds, I’d probably reduce the “Tithing” amount on my donation slip and contribute the funds to the Perpetual Education Fund, Missionary Fund, Temple Fund, or Humanitarian Aid instead. But anyway….

    Other than that, I’m willing to leave the issue be with profxm’s take. Not much I want to take issue with.

    To answer your question though – I do think it was actually Pres. Packer himself who made the changes. I base this on the information I heard about how review of the talks by the speaker the next day is standard procedure. It fits well with my experience of the LDS Church. And I also just don’t see the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve having enough clout to “pressure” Pres. Packer into anything like this. He’s a pretty established and unpressurable guy. His staff might have suggested some changes and he agreed to them – in which case, that’s really just as good as Pres. Packer himself making the changes. As an executive, your office staff speak with your voice, and it’s all your responsibility anyway. So that basically amounts to him making the changes himself.

    I think hints of some sinister LDS “shadow bureaucracy” swooping in and telling an apostle what to do smell of fresh baked conspiracy theory.

    But since neither of us have a way to check, I guess it really just boils down to your speculations vs. mine. I think my scenario is more likely, obviously.

  46. Alan says:

    The CoJCoL-dS is not a public/democratic institution that is required to listen to people.

    I think this line from chanson @ 95 really cuts to the chase. While I agree that there is a fracture on the topic (I heard from someone who knows someone who said that God Loveth His Children was a very difficult pamphlet for the Quorum to put together, for instance!)…nevertheless, movement is largely internal. Change will likely occur from concerted outside effort making Mormonism out of touch with its surrounding culture as much as, if not more than, finding allies within the Church and grassroots politics within the Church. That’s just my opinion, though.

    I think hints of some sinister LDS shadow bureaucracy swooping in and telling an apostle what to do smell of fresh baked conspiracy theory.

    Seth, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to imagine a younger person Packer trusts suggesting to change the language, and Packer acquiescing. The man is nearly 90 years old; it’s actually more difficult for me to imagine him not listening to other people on minor details, even if he’s stubborn.

  47. Seth R. says:

    In which case Alan – that demonstrates exactly the kind of attitude shift in President Packer that I was talking about.

  48. Holly says:

    Huh. I have a hard accepting that someone who dismisses a cause as a transitory political issue he doesn’t have time to care about is really much of an ally in that cause. He might not be a flat-out enemy, but the snotty insistence that it’s just not really a big deal, coupled with a demand that the movement take his comfort so thoroughly into consideration, makes him an impediment rather than an ally.

    It’s very foolish to ignore the importance of collectively losing one’s cool, to many social movements and especially to the gay rights movement, which started, after all, with the Stonewall Riots, not the Stonewall peace march. The riots worked, when nothing else had.

  1. December 11, 2010

    […] found Ms Jack’s recent question intriguing, mostly because I think it points to a possible future of Mormon discourse on the […]

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