Sunday, June 26, 2011

I DO - and I don't

Talks and lessons the past two Sunday's have focused on the family, its significance and centrality to the Gospel plan, and the eternal nature of the family. During these talks and discussions the issue of Same Sex Marriage naturally came up, and I quietly noted the comments that were made and the reactions of various individuals in class. What struck me this time around is that there are really two completely separate issues at play here.

The first issue is marriage as defined by religion - specifically Mormonism. We believe marriage is divinely mandated and instituted for the creation of eternal family units. We are taught that Adam and Eve were the first married couple, and were commanded to be faithful to one another, worship God in righteousness, and multiply and replenish the earth (raise a family). This early example and definition of marriage has been further expanded on and clarified over the centuries to become what we have today. In our doctrine, marriage is defined as exclusively between a man and woman (currently just one woman, but that has not always been so). Gender has also been declared to be of divine nature and our spirits themselves existed as male and female before birth. I understand the scriptural basis for these doctrines, and I can accept it. It makes sense .

Same Sex unions are obviously not included in this doctrine. They are not, according to the doctrine, "ordained of God", nor are Same Sex relationships believed to last beyond this life. End of story? Not really. As a gay person I have to believe that all the doctrine on this subject has not yet been revealed . Quite frankly, I think there may be a LOT more to come, because I think the current LDS leadership has not really asked the right questions yet. Sadly this is, perhaps, a matter of their own personal prejudice and priority. Until some of the "old guard" move on, or until more revelation comes, I can live with what we have. I can be patient.

The second issue is marriage as defined by law. We live in a country where Church and State are separate. Essentially, the mandates or doctrines of religion do not necessarily translate over into the law of the land. There are many laws with foundations or roots in religious practice, but the opinions and doctrines of any religion have no guarantee to be expressed in law. Religious institutions are free to declare their doctrines and opinions in the public forums along side everyone else. But ultimately the legislators and judges of the land, elected and appointed by the people, decide what is and is not law.

It is in this secular, legal setting where opponents of Same Sex Marriage find themselves on thin ice. The legal concept of equal rights trumps any religious doctrine or opinion to the contrary. In the eyes of the government, marriage is not a religious contract - it is a civil one. I don't have to even believe in God to get married - the government has appointed public officers who can perform a marriage ceremony for anyone that desires it, and which creates the legal contract the government recognizes as "marriage". The government is gracious enough to extend legal status to marriages performed by religious authorities, but religion is not a prerequisite for the contract.

So in this context Same Sex Marriage makes perfect sense.  There is no logical or legal reason to deny two people who want a marriage contract the privilege to have one - no matter what their genders might be. To do so is to deny the parties invoved equity and parity under the law.

So, I DO believe in the Church and support the principles and doctrines they teach. I understand what the religious definition of marriage is and why its important to the Church. I understand why they have taken a stand on this issue. But I DON'T believe the argument has any merit when it comes to civil law. I want my gay friends to have happy relationships and families, with all the legal privileges and protections any other married couple has. I think it is their right. And I think religious institutions  - Mormon, Catholic, or any other denomination - will ultimately fail in their attempts to stop Same Sex Marriage. They simply have no legal high ground in this matter.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In Brightest Day...

 ...in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!

Before there were video games, before there were computers, before there was even television - there were comic books! Yes folks, I realize I'm dating myself here, but one of the rarest and most sought-after forms of entertainment when I was a kid was the comic book. When we weren't actually playing outside with little plastic army men (or other juvenile pursuits which are now almost unheard of), we read and traded comic books. I had a host of favorites - Superman, Batman, The Flash, Spiderman, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four - but my all-time favorite was Green Lantern. I've been waiting for this one to be made into a movie for a LONG time, and now it has arrived! And I was not at all disappointed. To add to my retro-delight, the main character is played by Ryan Reynolds. This is a seriously hot and handsome guy. I definitely have a man-crush going on here!
 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jack, I Swear...

They had Brokeback Mountain playing on cable tonight, and I tried to catch a few of my favorite scenes while channel-surfing other shows. Although it gets tedious in spots, there is something haunting about that movie that strikes a familiar chord with me. I came out to my Bishop right about the time Brokeback was released, so there's a timing element that's part of it - sort of an anniversary. But I think its the sense of isolation and "quiet desperation" that seems to inflict both main characters that moves me. Its so reminiscent of my darker days when I was struggling to understand who and what I was and how a gay person can find a "fit" in this world, and especially in the Church. I see a lot of my own self denial in these characters.

My favorite line in the whole movie is the very last one. Ennis opens the closet door to put up a sweater and notices the post-card picture of Brokeback Mountain pinned to the inside of the door has gotten crooked. Beside it hangs his most precious keepsake - Jack's old shirt and jacket. He touches up the shirt, straightens the picture up a bit, and with tears welling up in his eyes, whispers, "Jack, I swear..." It makes me cry every time I see that scene.





Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weiner's Weener

The flap over Rep. Anthony Weiner showing off his member has gotten, well - interesting! Never before can those who behave badly be so easily and instantly pinned to the wall by their own sloppy and careless use of modern technology. Texting a photo of your phallus with your iPhone is about as bone-headed a move as one can imagine for a high-profile public figure. Talk about public exposure!  Makes you wonder what else is going on in Washington, doesn't it? OK, on second thought, we probably really don't want to know what's going on in Washington!



Anthony - word of advice, dude. Next time, use your WIFE'S iPhone to push out the porn! Sheesh! Maybe when they kick you out of Washington you can get a job with Cody Cummings and the Next-Door group? eh? Whaddaya think?? New careers can have the most unexpected beginnings...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pride Festival

Pride Festivals are the worst idea ever for promoting tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people. When I worked in Seattle my office was in the department of Public Health that dealt with AIDS, and there was always activity around PRIDE week. I saw all the photos - trust me. Do you honestly think straight people seeing gays dance around half naked, acting lewdly, mocking religion, and otherwise being distasteful helps IN ANY WAY to engender respect, sympathy, or a desire to bestow equal status to homosexuals? Does a straight person seeing a gay man dressed in nothing but condoms make them comfortable with the idea of gays adopting children? Or teaching their children in elementary school? Or being their next door neighbor?


Gay Pride does nothing more than broaden the gulf that exists between straights and gays and justifies the very fears and prejudices gays want to see dispelled. I would never go to one - ever. Its the worst thing the LGBT community has ever dreamed up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Annoyed

I got the new Ensign today and the central theme of this issue is the family. For some reason (probably temporary insanity), I was hoping that the Church would directly address gay marriage in some way other than the typical rant. Well, it really wasn't even directly mentioned - just alluded to in obtuse ways. The most annoying thing to me are quotes from the Proclamation on the Family that gender is an "essential part of our being". I can understand and accept that. However, the Church is constantly implying that gender identity and being gay are somehow connected, and nothing could be farther from the truth! I'm not confused about my gender at all. I'm also not confused about which gender I'm attracted to - its perfectly clear to me. I'm gay!

Anyway, I was hoping there would be something constructive, something conciliatory, something - new? And there wasn't. Same old statements, quotes, warnings about the disentigrating family, yadda, yadda, yadda. It just bothers me, that's all...