Sunday in Outer Blogness: Gay parents edition!!!

This past week, a new study hit the press, showing that the children of failed mixed-orientation-marriages are at risk (compared to kids whose parents are in a stable relationship):

It’s about current adults who grew up in mostly dysfunctional homes, where one of the parents may have had a homosexual affair, or is leading a double life, or is self-medicating to cope with being gay while acting straight. In so far as the study reflects the difficulties for children growing up in such unstable homes, it is surely making the case for stable civil marriage as a critical institution for the rearing of children.

This comes on the heels of Josh Weed’s coming out that-wentviral, and several people with experience in mixed-orientation-marriage have responded to stress that the Weeds’ example doesn’t necessarily generalize:

There is a temptation among active Latter-day Saints to point to stories like this one and say See? Its possible (with the impliedbut hopefully unspokenand if you cant do this, you just arent trying hard enough, arent faithful enough, etc.)

Please dont.??

For one thing, for every story like this there are ten stories like mine. And for every story like mine (in which my ex and I have been able to remain friends, remain supportive, continue to co-parent the kids, etc.) there are a hundred stories that ended in bitterness, venom, drawn out custody battles, and a great deal of misery.

Andrew has written a couple of good link roundup and analysis posts, and Dad’s Primal Scream has taken it as an opportunity to examine his own confirmation bias. Are people of faith coming around to the realization that marriage equality really is the pro-family position? Indications look very good!! 😀

In Theology and gospel, Oxymormon Girl found an interesting analogy about correlation as deletion of anything that might offend and Tired Road Warrior provided an example. Here’s a taste of what the gospel used to look like. Steve Wells succeeded in finding a positive role model for fathers in the Bible, and No Cool Name Tom wrapped up his Sunday-School teaching experience. Also, Bruce Nielson has written a very interesting series on theism and atheism — you might want to go join in the discussion!

There were a number of interesting stories this week about mixed-belief personal relationships: how it feels to be a convert who can’t have an “eternal family” with parents who won’t convert, dealing with a spouse whose Mormon beliefs cause him profound pain, how to support a sibling on her first trip to the temple, and writing a letter to someone whose faith journey you once dismissed.

Romney’s keeping the “Mormon Moment” alive, with typical Mormon discussion points getting reported in major newspapers:

Eventually, Christianity grew up and conceded that it wasnt authentic Judaism. Lo and behold, once it had given up its claim to Judaism, it became a state religion […] Eventually, Mormonism will grow up. Maybe a Mormon in the White House will hasten that moment when Mormonism will no longer plead through billboards and sappy radio ads to be liked,

If Mitt’s religion leaves you confused, why not read this new book about it? In other books, have a look at this give-away, this book plan, and this book-signing.

On the lighter side, we have apps about the dangers of coffehouses. What to do with all those Books-of-Mormon…? Some lucky folks have taken some beautiful trips (that last one was right after visiting me). Plus some funny lesser-known editing and proofreading marks.

Happy reading, and have a great week!!


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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27 Responses

  1. MoHoHawaii says:

    I guess I’m just out of sync with the world, but the recent LDS Living article that lionized Ty Mansfield’s MOM and the recent blog post by Josh Weed’ that went viral have me scratching my head. In both cases, the guys are socially conservative psychotherapists. Weed helps conflicted gay people minimize “unwanted sexual attractions.” (“Ex-gay” alert!!) Does anyone besides me detect a slight conflict of interest here? What could these guys possibly say about their opposite-sex marriages except that they’re just super? The conflict of interest destroys any anecdotal value that these stories might otherwise possess. They are either statements of faith (at best) or marketing collateral for a business. Either way, they aren’t case studies.

    The intensity of the Mormon adoption of these narratives, despite their uselessness, is fascinating. They fill an evidence vacuum for some fervently held beliefs that are being challenged and rejected by the younger generation. The intensity of response is remarkable– it’s the crack cocaine of confirmation bias.

  2. chanson says:

    @1 That’s true — it seems like the conflict of interest is pretty blatant. But to play devil’s advocate, people are probably thinking that these guys went into this line of work because they wanted to share with others the strategies they use in their successful struggle against acting on their SSA…

  3. Chino Blanco says:

    We went to the Denver Pride parade today and besides how tame and fam-friendly it was, the thing that struck me was how many affirming churches were represented. My takeaway: I can understand why Mormons would want to make amends by marching in Pride, but unless you’re there marching under the banner of a church that actually affirms LGBT relationships, at some point (i.e., next year), I think it becomes necessary to ask “what’s the point?” … And my two cents for Pride organizers will be to welcome Mormon marchers back only once their church becomes affirming just like the others who turn out to march.

  4. chanson says:

    unless youre there marching under the banner of a church that actually affirms LGBT relationships, at some point (i.e., next year), I think it becomes necessary to ask whats the point?

    True, their message is a little confused and confusing. But I predict that it will already have evolved by next year.

  5. Ren says:

    @ 3 I empathize with your frustration however it infers only the official church (and only 1 at that) has the right to call themselves Mormons and define every social more ascribed to said people. I don’t believe they do anymore than churches who say they set the definition for Christian for everyone.

    Mormon can be a label the official church ascribes itself but it is also a culture, a heritage, a sect, a belief system, and I’m not sure it’s 100% same for any 2 people, even within the walls of SLC HQ.

    In Minneapolis, we’ll be walking next to Roman Catholic nuns. The diocese here sent out tens of thousand of dvds against gay marriage to MN households. I imagine part of what spurs them to march, as does us, is the sickening number of lgbt teens who have committed suicide in MN.

    There are many church members that have booths in Twin Cities Pride and walk in the parade. We have a group walking this year and we’re not sponsored by the church, many groups are not. They represent themselves and their religious affiliation is one component of who they are. Their presence has an impact. What’s the point? It’s one that will bear fruit over time. Wait and see.

  6. chanson says:

    it infers only the official church (and only 1 at that) has the right to call themselves Mormons and define every social more ascribed to said people. I dont believe they do anymore than churches who say they set the definition for Christian for everyone.

    The CoJCoL-dS strongly tries to give the impression that they own the word “Mormon” and their leaders are the only ones who have the right to define it. I try to push back against that as well (because it’s really not true).

    That was one of the problems (IMHO) with the Mormons in the SLC Pride explicitly insisting that the Mormon marchers not carry signs that were “political” (eg. affirming marriage equality). They gave the impression that they were more concerned that no “Mormon” contradicts the dictates from the leadership of the CoJCoL-dS than they were concerned with allowing Mormons to express their own views.

    In Minneapolis, well be walking next to Roman Catholic nuns. The diocese here sent out tens of thousand of dvds against gay marriage to MN households. I imagine part of what spurs them to march, as does us, is the sickening number of lgbt teens who have committed suicide in MN.

    Good for you! I hope you and the nuns succeed in changing your respective churches from with. 😀

  7. Chino Blanco says:

    Ren, for the record, you rock. And for the most part, so do all the other folks who’ve been involved in the Mormon presence at Pride this year. As a fan of what y’all are making happen, my concern is narrower than suggested by my offhand “what’s the point?” … If I were involved in approving applications for next year’s Pride parades, I’d simply want to confirm that any “Mormon” contingents planning to march were doing so under the banner of an affirming organization (e.g.,, M4ME, etc.).

  8. Alan says:

    Remarkably, almost all the LDS contingents this year will have affirming banners. Even in SLC and Boise, where the banners were/are “correlated” by the organizers, the majority of the marchers (as I understand it) were/are affirming.

    As I’ve said before, hopefully the current Mormon media frenzy jumps on the number of M4ME banners this summer and starts to paint a picture of the Church as “changing” (forcing the Church to respond) as opposed to continuing to paint the marchers as anomalies. At some point I’m sure the Church will try to tally itself to see just how anomalous this movement is or is not.

  9. chanson says:

    That’s excellent! And it should be interesting to see how the CoJCoL-dS responds…

  10. leftofcentre says:

    It will be easier for members to grasp a better picture of the issues that Mormon LGBTIQ folk have had to face if they are willing to consistently put their heads above the parapet. It will be a tricky/sticky issue for some but it probably will only take a few years of visibility before those Mormons willing to ‘affirm’ LGBTIQ people and their desire to be considered first-class citizens with equal rights and protection (under the law) will likewise be affirmed. Marching under any banner has its risks but the church’s potential and ongoing loss of members, especially younger and more liberal ones, may make the risks worth taking. I can’t think that families in Mormon communities loved their LGBTIQ relatives and friends LESS a decade ago, I just think that the risks in showing their support have decreased.

    I predicted (yea, prophesied hahah) that this civil issue would eventually bring the church a lot of embarrassment when they were trying so hard to be the rich and cool kid at the party, only to be shown for what they really were: out of step bullies who still wouldn’t drink the beer.

    Next prediction: ‘Church calls Marlin Jensen to be Prophet, Jensen calls Mitch Mayne to head Mormon LGBT Outreach Program’. I wouldn’t go back to being Mormon even if this happened – it’s too little too late.

  11. SoACTing says:


    When you say “…paint a picture of the church as ‘changing’ (forcing the Church to respond)…”

    What do you hope/think the next “change” will likely be??
    – the church no longer encouraging members to donate of their means and time;
    – the church getting out of civil unions all together in all 50 states;
    – the church actually encouraging its members to vote for marriage equality;
    – the church actually allowing same sex couples to be baptized into the church??

    I am sure there are a dozen other ways the church can change and I’ve listed only a few above, but what are your thoughts?

    The church has already taken tons of baby steps in the last 30 years beginning with the institutions views of what makes someone ‘become’ a homosexual (i.e., masturbation, overbearing mother, distant father, etc.) to its most recent changes of classifying homosexual actions as a sin (not the feelings), no longer encouraging MOM’s as a cure, etc. So, do you forsee the church continuing to take more baby steps for (perhaps) years and years to come? Or, do you think with the Mormon media frenzy it could result in a sweeping change?

    ~ SoACTing

  12. Chino – I hope Pride organizers won’t limit the freedom of expression of individual Mormons who would like to march in support of LGBT folks. I hope the LGBT community can be at least as inclusive as Jesus, when he said, “If they’re not against us, they’re for us.”

    Let’s stop trying to analyze the bejeebus out of folks who are marching. For the vast majority of rank and file Mormons who are marching in Pride, this is not a “baby step.” This is huge…!

    And let’s try not impute sinister motives to people whose motives we know little about.

    And let’s be open to the possibility that Mormons might come to Pride with one set of motives, and then be transformed by the experience. This is a journey. A journey by definition means we start at one point, and we end up in a completely different place.

    Let’s let this evolve, folks!

  13. chanson says:

    Absolutely, this is huge!! But please don’t make us stop analyzing the bejeebus out of stuff — it’s what we love to do!! 😉

    But seriously, I don’t think people here are imputing sinister motives to marchers — rather (I hope) the point is to analyze whether the approach and messages are effective.

    I don’t know when the date of the march is, but I’m guessing that, unfortunately, I’ll miss the opportunity to march with you. I’m arriving in Minneapolis in early July. Even if I won’t be there for the march, I hope I’ll have the opportunity to meet you. 😀

  14. leftofcentre says:

    @12: John, I agree with you – rarely would someone attend Pride and not be transformed by the experience (for better or for worse). I guess I’m hoping that any Mormon who marches in Pride parades wouldn’t be put off by potential LGBTIQ folk who might be initially suspicious of them and their motives. That’s why I think it will be crucial that those Mormons who march in Pride stick in there for a few more years, at least. I think it will take time to prove some loyalty since belonging and supporting don’t actually require parting with tithing money or getting baptized, but rejecting some aspect of their current systems of religious belief and moral codes. What I meant about the risks diminishing for members to march was that perhaps the time the LGBTIQ community most needed support and affirmation (AIDS crisis, anti-sodomy legislation years, employment and housing discrimination, youth suicide and homelessness) was when the church offered little to nothing in the way of support and actively discouraged their members from doing so, and this sticks in the craw of many people, active or not, member or not. I’m all for building bridges and it does take a lot of courage and love to make any sort of stand for justice, but it will take other people a lot longer to come on board in thinking that active Mormons have any right to crash the party during the one and only day of the year when LGBTIQ folks can breathe a little easier. I suppose that questioning motives is also about finding out people’s stories, too. If I went up to the MBB group and asked each one why they were there, I would probably get a lot of different stories. I would imagine that that is just as important as questioning why or how someone found their way into a Mormon chapel on a Sunday morning…

  15. I absolutely WANT to analyze everything… But can some of us finish our Pride marches first? The “Super Tuesday” of Pride marches is coming up this Sunday — San Fran, New York, Twin Cities… (By the way TC Pride is consistently the 3rd or 4th largest Pride in the country…)

    Here’s the thing: I would like Mormons to march in Pride. I want them to feel as welcome and invited as they possibly can. I don’t want to have a checklist of LGBT orthodox positions they need to adhere to before they can march with me. I’m not going to force them to open a vein for me so I can see if it bleeds lavendar. Because I recognize that this is a journey, and you can only begin any journey by taking the first step. And I feel like having all these people at the sidelines griping and saying, “Oh, well, how pro-gay are you, really?” “Oh, I’ve been here years proving my commitment to equality, so who the hell are you to march now?” To me, it reeks of big brother mentality, which seems rather odd to me coming from people who typically pride themselves on being prodigals.

    Please, really, let people march. If you’ve been committed to gay rights for years, haven’t you actually kind of been hoping and praying for the day when everyone in our society would embrace gay Pride? And didn’t you sort of think that Mormons would the among the last to embrace gay Pride? And now it’s happening, and we’re sitting around counting all the reasons why this can be real or it can’t be good, or whatever????

    Can we just try to be a bit more welcoming? A bit less cynical? Sheesh. The people who are griping should be precisely the people who are cheering loudest.

    If they aren’t, I suspect that part of it is because — among the ex-/disaffected Mormon crowd — there’s an assumption that pro-gay must equate with anti-Mormon. I’ve seen a number of posts out there implying that the Mormon Church can never embrace gay folks, because in order to do so they would have to implode doctrinally.

    Some of us, all along, have been saying, Not so. As I’ve posted recently, one consequence of my work on marriage equality within the LDS community is that I’m finding more and more evidence of true believing Mormons who are 100% gay-supportive, supportive of marriage equality, the whole shebang.

    I’ve known these Mormons have existed for years, because my parents are among them, and my folks came to this position over a decade ago. They’ve served two missions for the Church, and are faithful, active, “TBM” Mormons in every way you can imagine. As faithful Mormons who know and love their son and who know there’s nothing wrong with their son, who also have rock-bottom, unquestioned testimonies of the gospel, they expect a revelation to come along. For them its inevitable. And they don’t see how Mormonism as a belief system could possibly implode from it… To the contrary, they see the Gospel on an onward and upward path, continuing to grow and develop in light and understanding, line upon line, precept upon precept.

    I hope I’m wrong, but when I hear pro-gay, ex-/disaffected Mormons booing at the appearance of faithful Mormons at gay Pride, it makes me wonder what’s going on…

    Chanson — P.S. You MUST look me up when you arrive. PLEASE, let’s definitely meet.

  16. chanson says:

    OK, I don’t think we’re disagreeing at this point. 😉

    If I arrive in Minneapolis in time (which I don’t think I will since I assume Pride is in June), I would be perfectly happy to march with the Mormon contingent — as long as they wouldn’t mind including me. And I would be fine with marching next to someone who won’t carry a “marriage equality” sign as long as they’re OK with marching with me carrying one. Who knows? Maybe my Mormon family members would even come along…

    I’ll email you with my trip details. I’ve already met Ren a few times, and she mentioned that she knows you, so maybe we can all get together. 😀

  17. Absolutely! Our Pride is this coming Sunday, June 24, so it sounds like you’ll just miss it… But I’m not going anywhere till LATE July. (Traveling to Utah to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.) So if you’re on Facebook, friend me! Or we can connect through Ren. She was just in my home Saturday, so she knows how to find me. 🙂

  18. SoACTing says:

    Pride is in SFO this weekend! Only an hour away from me! Not sure if I’m going yet, but if I do I’ll be taking some pics!

    – SoACTing

  19. Alan says:

    Oh, well, how pro-gay are you, really?

    The only “LGBT orthodox position” I would prefer of marchers is that they don’t think homosexuality is a sin. If folks believe homosexuality is a sin, and they still happen to be marching in a Pride parade this year (which I think it probably the case in some of these contingencies that opted for more “neutral” banners), then I think it’s perfectly reasonable to analyze this state-of-affairs — before, during and after the marches. I’m not someone who would boo their presence, but I certainly shouldn’t be admonished by you for merely analyzing their presence.

    I still think the main reason MBB went with a “neutral” banner is because they wanted to represent the Mormon institution rather than be perceived as fighting against it. I’m not against that choice, but it’s worth critiquing and analyzing. Jesus was inclusive, but he was also principled.

    Personally, I don’t think Mormonism would implode accepting gay relationships. The current positions of the Church would implode as well as the stated positions of top-level GAs. How can the Church change as an institution without the GAs recanting? It can’t. Basically, there has be a generation of silence from them before there’s a generation of institutional change. In the meantime, there’ll be this grassroots stuff. It seems like a long time to wait. I can see how Mormons in Pride Parades regardless of what they believe is a monumental step in this narrative, but I can also see how it’s not.

    SoACTing @11:

    do you think with the Mormon media frenzy it could result in a sweeping change?

    No, at most I would expect an official acknowledgement of differences of opinion within the Church, as opposed to subtle admonishing of the [pro-marriage equality] marchers. So far there’s only been the latter. Otterson said something to effect of, “Well, we would hope folks would represent the Church’s position…”

  20. chanson says:

    I still think the main reason MBB went with a neutral banner is because they wanted to represent the Mormon institution rather than be perceived as fighting against it.

    This hits on the one critical response I had wanted to make to J G-W above:

    The CoJCoL-dS has a huge publishing/publicity wing, and one of the messages they like to send is “Mormons may have diversity, but ideologically Mormons are totally correlated — and if your ideas aren’t totally correlated with those of the church hierarchy, then you’re not really a Mormon!” (see Alan’s Otterson semi-quote for one example). The insistence on “non-political” signs in the Mormon contingent in SLC made it look like the organizers were placing a high priority on making sure to avoid questioning that message.

    It’s likely the organizers didn’t intend to be sending that message, which is why I would like to point it out, in case they’re not aware of it.

    I think you don’t really need to tell the folks here at MSP that Mormons marching in Pride is a huge step. But what about people at Pride for whom Proposition 8 and Romney are essentially the only things they know about Mormonism? They should come away from this with a positive impression of Mormons, but that’s not guaranteed. And you can’t blame them for misunderstanding your message if you haven’t made an effort to communicate clearly.

  21. Alan says:

    And you cant blame them for misunderstanding your message if you havent made an effort to communicate clearly.

    Especially since the message is received differently depending on the scale/distance. Locally, there was a healing effect in SLC because the relationship between the LGBT community and the Church in Utah is unique. The Church gave support to the SLC ordinances in ’09; the Pride committee okayed a neutral Mormon presence in the parade. In other places, the bar for Mormons is higher, since they’re associated with Prop 8 and Romney. On a national level, the MBB banner doesn’t work as a message — it’s patronizing — which is probably why MBB’s particular message won’t be presented anywhere other than parades in the Mormon corridor. So, sure, these things can develop locally, organically (John’s preference) but due to the internet and national politics (and maybe someday even transnational politics), there’s other scales to consider.

    ideologically Mormons are totally correlated

    Its likely the organizers didnt intend to be sending that message, which is why I would like to point it out, in case theyre not aware of it.

    To be honest, I don’t think a lot of Mormons have this kind of double-consciousness about how their faithful support of their institution is viewed by outsiders. For example, in the 1970s, as Mormons were marching in support of civil rights, when the critique was leveled against them, “Well, what about equal rights in your own church?” many of the same Mormons were taken aback, as if the Church was not an acceptable target of criticism by outsiders. Outsiders didn’t have a “right” to try to change the Church internally. Civil rights were one thing…but the Church is the Church.

    Harry Reid is a good example of someone who supports gay marriage civilly, but not for the Church, ostensibly because he still “personally” believes marriage is between “a man and a woman.” I do think, however, a lot of Mormons marching in M4ME are wanting a change in the Church, too, as there’s an uncomfortable dissonance.

  22. Chino Blanco says:

    Nobody’s booing. Get a grip. My comment was a visceral response to seeing so many affirming churches marching in Denver Pride. Re those churches, what they’re offering seems appropriate and relevant in the context of Pride: a place for LGBT folks to worship/fellowship/serve as equals. I understand that Mormon marchers can’t make the same offer but I’m still glad to see Mormons out in great numbers this year seeking to make amends.

    I do have concerns about the opportunity costs involved in turning this into a regular feature at Pride. Those churches that are already affirming could certainly benefit from the participation in their congregations of Mormons who support equality and I think we show affirming congregations our respect and appreciation at Pride by limiting participation based on consistent and fair criteria.

  23. chanson says:

    I’m glad nobody’s booing, and I’m glad that the experience has been extremely positive so far.

    My one point is that I think that LGBTIQ folks who are leery of the Mormon presence should get a response that validates the fact that they have a legitimate grievance. In other words, they shouldn’t be hearing “How dare you complain about the Mormons — don’t you see how hard they’re trying (you divisive/overreacting jerk)…?” rather they should be getting something more like “Yes, the Mormons’ message is questionable, but let’s us be the big ones and show them we can welcome them with open arms.” As I understand it, that was basically the outlook of the organizers in SLC, and it went over well.

  24. The UNIFORM reaction among non-Mormon LGBT folks here in the Twin Cities when they hear we have an organized contingent is: “REALLY? WOW! FANTASTIC!” The Pride Committee has bent over backwards to make space for us, even though we had to try to get in after the registration deadline. No one for a single moment has hesitated or questioned our motives.

    We are keeping our messaging more politically neutral, but we’re not the only religious group doing so either…

  25. chanson says:

    Excellent!!! Glad to hear it! 😀

  26. Chino Blanco says:

    They send letters, that somehow wind up in my inbox:

    So dude. You’d like parade organizers to reject our applications? You don’t think Mormons who are standing up for what they know to be right and in defiance of what their church is doing and has done is a net positive at a Pride celebration?

    Don’t you think it is an overall good thing for a group that is solely affiliated with hurting gay people to have members who wish to publicly apologize, profess love for all, and speak up against the actions taken?

    What if Muslims for Progressive Values wanted to march? Should they be rejected until Islam accepts homosexuality (on at least a broad scale)?

    Frankly, if “Muslims for Progressive Values” wanted to march at Pride, it wouldn’t be “bigotry” to ask what affirming mosque they were touting. Absent a physical location, I’d at least expect them to point me to a website that was safe for LGBT muslims to share their experiences.

    As far as Mormons are concerned, it’s great that y’all are showing up to apologize. Apology accepted. Good for you. And I’m glad you’re getting lots of hugs. Whether or not you’ve earned them is something for y’all to grapple with.

  27. chanson says:

    Was that addressed to based on your comments here? Are the MBB guys following this conversation? If so, here’s my response to that letter:

    Dude, are you building a bridge or what? This bridge is carrying communication from you to the LGBTIQ community, but it will also be carrying communication from them back to you. Not all of that return communication will be positive. You need to be ready for that.

    Yes, what you’re doing is extremely positive, and it is brave for you to stand up for what you know to be right and in defiance of what your church is doing. If you want your critics to understand that, demonstrating a willingness to understand your critics’ point of view helps. Reacting to criticism with indignation does not help you build a bridge.

    This exchange with Chino has been a practice run — we’ll see how your bridge-building goes as Pride approaches. Good luck!! 😀

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