So, I feel I should elaborate a bit more about my decision to remove my name from church records, to resign my membership. It’s a big decision and one that does not come easily.

I have obviously not been active for a long time. I haven’t elaborated much since my last post on this topic many months ago – but I guess for me, once I came to know that I am the person God made me to be, that being gay is not a curse to be overcome, but a blessing, I regained such an overwhelming peace in my life. Which led to the absolute knowledge that what the church teaches about gay people and same sex attraction is wrong. And from there, it was a pretty easy step to see holes in many of the other doctrines and teachings.

I think one of the most surprising things, as the years have passed, is the incredible happiness I have in my life outside the church. Once you are outside of it, it becomes so easy to see how much “mind control” there is in the church. I put that in quotes because I don’t think people are actually being controlled or brainwashed. But there is so much rhetoric about how awful people’s lives are when they leave the church, how they go down this path of sin and they get sick, they lose their loved ones and they die alone. This is not an exaggeration. Just recently someone told me a story of someone who took his name off the church and was subsequently murdered – as if the action brought on the consequence. And when you are inside the church, it’s not like you live with this fear or anything. But it’s still accepted as a fact – people who leave the church are unhappy and tragic things happen to them.

Since I separated myself emotionally from the church, I have come to terms with many issues in my life, I have met and fallen in love with the most incredible person I’ve ever known, I have more financial stability than I’ve ever had in my life, I got a job that finally not only pays me enough to live on but that I really love (I’d never experienced both of those qualities in one job before), I bought a house with my partner – my life is happier than it’s ever been. So I can’t speak for anyone else – but for me, I’ve never been happier than I’ve been outside the church.

I’ve left my name on the records, partly as a concession to my family and partly just out of inertia. I’ve thought about it once or twice, but it was never important enough to go through the process.

But now, after the past few months of activity over Proposition 8 in California, I’ve decided it’s time. It’s no longer honest for me to leave my name on the records of an organization that is actively trying to undermine my relationship and our ability to provide for one another.

I feel very peaceful about the decision itself. But I do feel a lot of anxiety about talking to my immediate family about it. I know people who didn’t feel the need to talk to their families about taking this last step. But I feel that I should, for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s been an important part of my life and I think just writing the letter and sending it almost denies that important role it’s played. I’m leaving, and it’s the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I regret my involvement in the past or that I don’t recognize the role the church has played in making me who I am. (hence, my ‘break-up’ song by the Indigo Girls in my last post – cheesy but how I feel.)

Second, I rarely talk to my family about these issues, and I think it’s only fair that they hear from me about it now and then. I won’t be angry or hurtful when I talk to them and I won’t harp on it afterwards. But I feel that they should know I’m doing it and why. I don’t want them to be able to think that somewhere deep down I still agree with the church or that someday I might change my mind. I want them to know how hurtful the church’s actions and words are for me. But I don’t want them to think I’m asking them to leave the church or disagree with the church. I’m not. But I feel that, as someone they love, I should have an opportunity to tell them how I feel, since the church dominates the rhetoric on this topic. It’s scary, because the church is seen as faultless by its members. So, as much as they love me, they will also think I’m wrong. But I still feel that I need to ask them to consider my feelings and hear me out.

So, my plan is to talk to my mom and my sisters – I don’t need to tell more people than that (although obviously anyone reading this will also know). But I don’t need to “force” the conversation on anyone else. And then I’m just going to continue to live my life.

It’s been a very emotional couple of months. One of our closest couple friends got engaged about a week ago and along with being so incredibly happy for them, I was also sad for us, that we don’t get to do that. But there’s only so much I can do about that. Mainly, I can live my life as openly as possible, so that’s what I will try to continue to do. And hope that we’ll continue to make progress, in courts, in state legislatures and in public opinion.

This has been a long time in coming. It’s time for me to say goodbye to the church, though like the end of any relationship it’s a bittersweet ending. But it’s gotten a bit abusive of late and I have to cut ties for my own sanity.

I’ve listened to this song a lot over the past few days. It pretty much encapsulates how I feel as my lifelong relationship with the church comes to a close…

My friend Crystal posted a status about “going viral” and asking her CA friends to vote No on Prop 8 the other day – and set off a firestorm of responses that took her a bit by surprise. She responded with a longer explanation and I asked her if I could post it here, for anyone reading this that doesn’t know her. It’s quite beautiful and gives me hope that change might happen, however slowly.

Dear Friends and Family:

I’m honestly a little shocked that any of you are surprised by my position on Prop 8. I do belong to approximately 1 gazillion anti Prop 8 groups on facebook and I’ve made statements about Prop 8 and gay marriage before.

I hope no one thinks I’m offended by anything or trying to figure out how to respond because I haven’t said anything till now. I actually don’t look at my gmail and facebook on weekends most of the time, because family is my #1 priority (even more than music, yes shocking), and my time on weekends with Joel and my doggies is precious. I only noticed anyone had responded because I took a quick look at my gmail to see if our morning plans were still on despite the snow. To my surprise I found a storm on my wall too! We just finished doing what we needed to do on Saturday (i.e. me getting a fabulous new haircut and both of us cleaning the house since as every LDS kiddo knows “Saturday is a special day, the day we get ready for Sunday” hehehe). There’s a long and a short version. The long version is pretty much for anyone who’s worried about my political stance in general and concerned about my going to hell in a handbasket and is an explanation for why I’m liberal. ;P

I am glad that my silly little facebook status has engendered such an interesting and well thought-out debate. After reading your responses I want my conservative friends and family to know that I am not offended by your responses and I want to thank my liberal friends and family for showing me support. In addition to comments on my status, an even larger number of my friends and family have responded to me privately in my inbox expressing their support and I thank them for the kind thoughts. I think all of you have responded civilly to each other and I applaud you.

Proposition 8 deeply troubles me and what Californian, Idahoan, and single adult Latter-day Saints are being asked to do about it deeply offends my religious beliefs as a Latter-day Saint. What I feel about gay marriage is a big part of that and a big part of my religious beliefs as a Mormon.

SHORT VERSION:
First, my baptismal covenants are, as stated in Mosiah 18, “to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God in all times, and in all things, and in all places.” Prop 8 and the rhetoric surrounding it partially bothers me for that reason. I have a lot of friends who grew up LDS and are gay and their stories are TRAGIC. Horrible. It is disgusting how they have been treated, how they treated themselves when they were struggling with how their felt, and the people who treated them like that are not without blemish, despite them thinking they were just encouraging righteousness and protect the family by trying to “save” my gay friends from themselves. It’s reprehensible and I believe they will be held accountable. I think that since Mormons have covenanted to comfort those that stand in need of comfort that that should be our #1 goal. A lot of the rhetoric surrounding prop 8 communicates to my gay friends that they are fundamentally wrong, that they should repent, and that they’re not the same as we are, and ergo shouldn’t have the same rights that straight people have. Ugh.

So I always knew I was an economic liberal, and I became a social liberal when I started realizing that equality and choice were important as a meesly freshman at BYU. I started thinking about my political and religious beliefs, evaluated why I thought them, and when I got to gay marriage I couldn’t find any way around it. In order to all be created equally with the same unalienable rights and privileges (dec. of independence.) and that we’re even equal before God in terms of what the doctrine says, there was inequality when it came to sexual preference. I realized back then that there were tax breaks, healthcare rights, hospital visitation rights, property rights, etc. that are being denied to people just because of their sexual preference. Wrong.

LDS doctrine is all about equality: “D&C 78:5-6 “That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;” and what my government says about equality in the constitution and declaration of independence means what’s happening is wrong.

The arguments for prop 8 and against gay marriage in general are:

#1 Gay marriage violates the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman (funny thing that polygamy never enters into this argument, weren’t my maternal ancestors prosecuted for a definition of marriage alternative to a man and a woman by substituting women?)

#2 Gay marriage destroys families and by a greater extension society since family is the foundation of society

#3 Gay marriage is a sin

#4 Gay marriage will lead to the end of the world (I’ve seriously heard that)

#5 Gay marriage hurts our rights and privileges

Here is why this language bothers me. No one is stating the fundamental fear, at least the Brethren aren’t although Marcello addressed it, the real reason why my Church has joined this hokey coalition. The real fear is that if gay marriage becomes a reality and a constitutional amendment, a Church can be held unconstitutional by choosing not to perform gay marriage. That’s the real fear.

Otherwise, the arguments don’t stand.

#2: Because honestly, I know many many gay couples who have been together for 10, 15, 20, even 50+ years. They are stable and are contributing to the stability of society. They treat each other with love, they are forming a family unit providing stability to our way of life. They are good parents of children, and good parents of animals (important in my book!).

#1: Gay marriage does not threaten my marriage to Joel. We’re still very happy thank you, and I don’t see how it will threaten how we communicate and relate with each other now or in the eternities. In fact I have learned a lot about healthy marriages and relationships from my friends in gay marriages and/or partnerships. Yes I believe that marriage can be eternal, and I absolutely believe in the beautiful relationship that results when the sexes are equally partnered.

In terms of earthly marriage and how it is defined in the legal code, people have the right to commit to be with whomever they want to. Yes Californian homosexuals might already receive many of the rights I’ve mentioned before of tax breaks, common property, healthcare, etc. but prop 8 denies them the right of public commitment before the law, of calling their union a unit, a family.

Whether or not gay marriage is a sin should not even be used as a reason. We’ve been told not to judge, that God will be the judger and if we judge others we’ll be held accountable. Live your covenants, and don’t make other people live covenants they haven’t made with God. Please keep religion out of defining what marriage is in law. Like Jon said, “Get religion out of our government and get government out of our religions.” I personally think that using religion to justify why certain laws should or should not exist will lead to #4, and not gay marriage. We keep heading down this path, and we’ll all be forced to be Born Agains, or Evangelical, or Muslim, or Mormon, or Catholic, or Jewish, or Atheists. We’ll be taught in our schools what is doctrine and what is not. We’ll be told how we should practice our religion. Do you want that? I don’t and I will fight till my dying day to keep government out of religion and religion out of government.

So the real fear is #5, that it hurts our rights because it’s possible that the Church could be forced to perform gay marriage in our temples. Catholics are afraid of performing gay marriage in catehdrals, or being forced to give their orphans to gay couples.

This is what makes me sad about what CA Latter-day Saints are being asked to do. Everyone, including our leaders, needs to lose arguments 1-4 because they don’t stand and let’s just address #5. The Protect Marriage Coalition certainly isn’t. Why are we part of it again? We aren’t operating under a limited light and knowledge in regards to 1-4. We know it as well as everyone else. Instead, work towards laws that maintain the separation of Church and state, allow a church to define marriage however it wants, to define family however it wants, and allow gay and straight people to get married, to have civil unions, and to do that in a Church that wants to offer gay and straight marriage, or only straight marriage, or whatever marriage, or gay and straight marriage by a Justice of the Peace. So let’s just leave this Protect Marriage Coalition and do the real right thing here. Let’s live true to our religious and American views of equality as well as the separation of Church and State. Let’s write a law that insures equal rights, equal families, equal marriage, and maintain Church and State at the same time and the right for a Religion to practice how, where, and when it may. And let’s have citizens and legislators write this law, not religions. Passing Prop 8 is not going to do that, and is going to violate a lot of principles that we hold dear.

And now for the thing that upsets me more. Not only do I dearly believe in the separation of Church and State, and not only is that a part of my scriptural doctrine, but the Church has always made a big deal about never telling it’s members who to vote for and how to vote. Fundamental stance for us, and here we are telling CA saints how to vote and why they should vote that way. And it’s not just Californians telling other Californians how to vote, but it’s Idahoans and BYU students, and institutes across the country.

We’re using words that don’t spread tolerance, that make our gay brothers and sisters hate themselves. We’re using arguments that are false. We are not showing our best Christian selves. We are not showing our best American selves. My Relief Society president, for whom I serve as first councilor, actually banned the entire topic of homosexuality from our Relief Society because in her words, “you never know who is gay and who isn’t and this Relief Society will not be the place where they decide to hate themselves forever or permanently leave the church and hate Mormons.” We are making people permanently hate us.

And now for my biggest issue. American Mormons have allowed themselves to be hijacked politically and to ignore important issues because of our fears about gay marriage and abortion. We are ignoring poverty, crime, equal taxation, equal rights for women (men are still paid more than women), law and order, world peace, cleaning up the environment etc. Show me where in our doctrine it says “thou shalt give tax breaks to the rich and large corporations and none else,” “thou shalt have AK-47s available for purchase by anyone who wants to,” “thou shalt pollute the earth and never ever worry about Global Climate Change,” “thou shalt teach everyone to pray to your God in school and none else,” the list goes on.

I didn’t plan on making prop 8 a big issue. I have always been vocal about what I think, I thought everyone knew where I stood, and it is outside my stewardship as a resident of Utah to tell Californians how to vote. But I read Elder Ballard’s and Elder Cook’s talks and they encouraged me to go viral with how I felt about prop 8 so I followed my priesthood leadership and did just that. This is not only how I feel rationally when I reason through equality on the doctrinal and governmental level, but it is what I feel is right. It is what is communicated to my soul, what the “plain and precious voice” says to me.

Long version

This response is going to be a little lengthy, and after this I mostly likely won’t respond to any future comments on my wall in regards to this topic. I claim the right to change my mind.🙂 This response also isn’t just about Prop 8. Some of you, especially my family, expressed concern about my choices in general and I want to explain some of my larger choices and how this relates to my feelings about Prop 8. Proposition 8 deeply troubles me and what Californian, Idahoan, and single adult Latter-day Saints are being asked to do about it deeply offends my religious beliefs.

I think the real cause that some of my family are concerned about my choices politically speaking is that they are afraid that I might loose my testimony of the gospel or something. No need to fear. I 100% have faith in my beliefs, I will live my covenants to the best of my ability. In fact, to quote Senator Reid, “I’m not a democrat in spite of being Mormon but because of it.”

I’ve never really had the opportunity to completely explain to my fam why I’m liberal. So I’m going to say why now because what I feel about gay marriage is a big part of that and a big part of my religious beliefs as a Mormon. To my friends and family who are not LDS or were once LDS and have chosen to no longer practice the religion, I am going to use some scripture and I hope that doesn’t offend you. Just because I believe in the LDS faith doesn’t mean that I think you’re wrong in your religious beliefs, or belief in no religion, or no god, or that your beliefs and/or lifestyle is wrong.

Why? The scriptures say that at the second coming of Christ, after the destruction of “the wicked” (a word I am NOT fond of BTW, but I live with it when God says it but it bothers me when imperfect humans bandy it about), that “both jew and gentile shall bow.” I interpret that to mean that the righteous are and will be LDS, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Hindu, Born Again, Evangelical, Atheists, RLDS, gay, straight, black, white, asian, pacific islander, etc. etc. etc. I even think that non-Texans will make it into the Celestial Kingdon. Shocking, I know. We all have truth, we all have goodness. I spent my high school years in TX and I was told on a weekly basis by the born agains that although I professed to believe and worship the same God as them, I was going to hell for being Mormon. I hope I am NEVER guilty of that judgment for as Christ has said in Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged,” and in Mosiah 29:12: “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” A big problem I have with prop 8 and the rhetoric that is being used to justify it, is that a lot of it is judging people by a morality that they have not covenanted to live.

I believe that when we are judged at the end of days that we will be judged according to what we know and what we have covenanted to do. We are not all judged by the same rule book. Mormons make a LOT of covenants both at baptism and in the temple when we receive our endowments. We also make covenants to our spouses when we are sealed to each other. We will be judged based on how we kept those covenants. I think there are a lot of people who will be way better off than myself and most mormons at judgment day who live alternate lifestyles than we do (pending of course that we are right about a judgment day… ;P ).

I think I’ve actually been a progressive my entire life, I just didn’t know for a great part of that time that what I thought was more in line with the left than right.

First, my baptismal covenants are, as stated in Mosiah 18, “to mourn with those that mourn, to comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as a witness of God in all times, and in all things, and in all places.” Prop 8 and the rhetoric surrounding it partially bothers me for that reason. I have a lot of friends who grew up LDS and are gay and their stories are TRAGIC. Horrible. It is disgusting how they have been treated, how they treated themselves when they were struggling with how their felt, and the people who treated them like that are not without blemish, despite them thinking they were just encouraging righteousness and protect the family by trying to “save” my gay friends from themselves. It’s reprehensible and I believe they will be held accountable. I think that since Mormons have covenanted to comfort those that stand in need of comfort that that should be our #1 goal. A lot of the rhetoric surrounding prop 8 communicates to my gay friends that they are fundamentally wrong, that they should repent, and that they’re not the same as we are, and ergo shouldn’t have the same rights that straight people have. Ugh.

And perhaps, if more Mormons were concerned with keeping their own covenants before worrying about how righteous everyone else is or is not, we’d a) have very little poverty and suffering and b) there’d be a lot less people who hate us here in Utah because they were not comforted but were judged and outcast. I’ve heard a lot of stories of non-LDS kids not being able to play with their LDS neighbors because they might have the same high standards. Sad.

My parents and my religion taught me the following:

Poverty and Economic systems:
Zion is defined as having “no poor among them.” Moses 7:18

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” James 1:27

2 Corinthians 8:14 “But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality.”

D&C 142:75 “plead the cause of the poor and the needy”

Equality & Human Rights:
D&C 78:5-6 “That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;”

Col. 3:11: “Where there is neither aGreek nor Jew, bcircumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

2 Nephi 26:33 “he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

11th Article of Faith: “We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” I think that includes let them worship nothing if they want too.

Separation of Church and State:
Alma 30:11 “For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.”

D&C 134:9 “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.”

Environment:
Genesis 1:28 “replenish the earth” note that it doesn’t say pollute…

Numbers 35:33 “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are…” That scripture is also a good peace one: “for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.”

D&C 59:20 “And it pleaseth God that hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.” Does the giant pit in Okur Mountains come to mind??

Ezra Taft Benson: The outward expressions of irreverence for God, for life, and for our fellowmen take the form of things like littering, heedless strip-mining, heedless pollution of water and air.

Rev 7: 2-3 “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees”, also Rev. 9:4

Peace:
D&C 98:16 “renounce war and proclaim peace.”

Joel 3:10 “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Why not now?

D&C 105:38-39 “sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; And lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth;”

Makes it pretty obvious to me, but hey to my politically conservative friends, I’m open minded enough to think we could both be right, but I don’t know many elected Republicans who are making great inroads with poverty, peace, the environment, and equality. Just saying. Elected democrats aren’t perfect either, as I’m sure my green and socialist friends will point out, but hey it works for me.

My mom is also a big fan of Mister Rodgers and daily I was taught the mantra “I love you just the way you are.” My mom said to “be different” to love those who were different and that nerds and people who were outcasts because they were different would be better friends in the long run than the beautiful and popular people. All of this speaks to why I think the way I do about equality and accepting differences. It doesn’t mean that my standards for myself are any different because of that acceptance.

Even on the economic level, I never saw a big difference between the underlying principles behind the United Order and communism/socialism. I always knew I was an economic liberal, it’s very sexy to me as a musician to think that in a perfect world I could pursue my love and talents without having to cop out for a real job or earn minimum wage until I “make it some day.”

I realized I was also a social liberal as a freshman at BYU of all places. Equality has always been a big issue for me. My dad is a convert to the Church and I often heard the story of how it was a challenge for him that at the time he converted blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood. He has a beautiful story of how he gained a testimony that eventually blacks would gain the priesthood that I won’t go into here. And as an aside, I think a lot of the language being used to justify prop 8 is reminiscent of logic to justify the priesthood ban. The whole Cain thing doesn’t make sense. If that was really the case, my part-black ancestors should not have held the priesthood. The truth is we don’t know why, but a statement about Bruce R. McConkie in regards to the issue both shocked me in terms of coming from him and because I think it’s relevant now: “Forget everything I have said or that President Brigham Young… or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.” Sometimes we just don’t know. Sometimes we think we know. And oftentimes we’re wrong.

[In fact, offline, one of my co-workers has suggested that people substitute the word “black” for “gay” in their arguments and see how it sounds… Now I’m not at all suggesting that I hope that the Church will someday say it’s OK to have gay sex or that we’ll someday perform gay marriages in Temples. That is not my place. And I will never be a judge in Israel so I’m never going to have to judge people’s choices here on earth. I’m just saying that maybe some of the language being used to justify prop 8 just MIGHT be unifnormed and operating under a limited knowledge. A big underlying motivator behind it is fear.]

Indeed, as my mom likes to remind me, I once wrote a paper arguing that democrats should be shipped to Antarctica because I held them accountable for slavery and the Civil War, all because of my healthy sense of racial equality inherited from my parents. Of course then I moved to TX and found out the Civil War wasn’t exactly as black/white and more gray. And I also learned about how horrible much of the Republican reconstitution was for the South what with women being raped all over the place and businesses being hijacked by those “darn Yankees.” That also helped me realize that no one, and no party is always 100% right all the time throughout all ages.

Anyway at BYU I took an honors writing class that was also a history of philosophy. I read Descartes and suddenly I realized that I couldn’t prove reality. We could all be brains in jars thinking life is real but not in reality. Proving that God existed was something I had always wanted to do back when I was into Physics because then we’d all be forced to be righteous. Who’s plan does that sound like, hmmm? Well as my lovely now-deceased Grandfather tried to remind me all the time, proving God would remove the need for faith and that would both be wrong and unfortunate. Faith is everything as I came to realize. I thought, well I have faith I’m not a brain in a jar being manipulated by some malicious being (Descartes’ words) and so then I decided let’s do what Descartes did, sort through everything I thought I knew or didn’t, and see what my faith really was. So I embarked on a study of my religion and my beliefs, and I found all of the above scriptures and nothing that said:

“Thou shalt give tax breaks unto the rich and giant corporations”

“Thou shalt pollute the earth as much as possible”

“Thou shalt treat people unequally before the law”

“Thou shalt pay men more than women”

“Thou shalt wage war without previous offense”

“The world shalt all pay homage to America and none else”

“Thou shalt exploit third world labor”

“Thou shalt ignore the war in heaven you fought over agency and create as many laws as possible forcing people to live the same way you do so every one can return to God as perfect little children.”

Yes Democrats aren’t perfect on these issues, but the principles are there.

So I always knew I was an economic liberal, and I became a social liberal when I started realizing that equality and choice were important when just a meesly freshman at BYU. I started thinking about my political and religious beliefs, evaluated why I thought them, and when I got to gay marriage I couldn’t find any way around it. In order to all be created equally with the same unalienable rights and privileges (dec. of independence.) and that we’re even equal before God in terms of what the doctrine says, there was inequality when it came to sexual preference. I realized back then that there were tax breaks, healthcare rights, hospital visitation rights, property rights, etc. that are being denied to people just because of their sexual preference. Wrong.

So I’m a liberal progressive, always will be so everyone might as well live with it. At BYU I was a registered democrat but I used to always tell people I was a communist, in graduate school in NYC I was a registered socialist since it was an open primary and why not register as a socialist when I could, and now I’m not only a registered democrat, but very involved. The funny thing is that people seem to be more shocked and offended by my being a democrat than when I used to tell everyone I was a communist. Weird. My parents though I came back from NYC a democrat, but the fact is that I just didn’t tell them outright until then. And my parents still love me and respect my choices. We have a great relationship, always have, and I am the way I am and think the way I do because of them.

So all of the above feeds my opinion on gay marriage. I find it reprehensible that in the 21st Century in the US of all places (in most states) that a gay man cannot visit his partner of 50 years in the hospital if a biological relative such as a parent or sibling says no. That a gay woman cannot necessarily provide health insurance for her partner. That two loving people cannot chose to have a family together. That gay couples in many states cannot jointly own property. That straight people get tax breaks just because they’re married. That doesn’t jive with what my constitution says about equality and civil rights. The list goes on. That also doesn’t jive with what my doctrine says about equality and civil rights. I used to think what Marcello has said, just keep marriage out of the equation, or offer civil unions instead, but make sure the tax benefits are removed and that these civil rights are offered to everyone gay or straight. But you know what? I now think that two people who love each other have a right to publicly declare that in a ceremony too.

I also firmly believe in the separation of Church and State that is laid out in LDS scripture and the constitution. I’m tired of moral legislation, especially here in Utah. These people are always passing laws about the word of wisdom, the law of chastity, and more; yet many of these lawmakers such as Greg Hughes, Chris Buttars, Speaker Curtis, and many others are clearly not living their religion either. It’s time we take morality out of it! Enough. You always hear people saying that it’s a sign of the times that we’ve taking “under God” out of the pledge of Allegiance and taking prayer out of schools. First, Under God was added to the pledge in 1954 (not by the founding fathers like Governor Palin thinks). Second which God? Which God should our children pray to? If this was India, would you really want your children to by forced to pray to Vishnu or Shiva? Or if this was Iran, would you want your children to pray to Allah? Would you want your children to be told in school that Jesus was not the Messiah? Why should we force our God and our prayer on others then? Whatever happened to “worshipping God how, where, or what” they want to? Hey I love prayer and I do it daily, and couldn’t live without it, but I don’t want my children to be taught to pray to someone else’s God in public school.

Now the arguments for prop 8 and against gay marriage in general are:

#1 Gay marriage violates the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman (funny thing that polygamy never enters into this argument, weren’t my maternal ancestors prosecuted for a definition of marriage alternative to a man and a woman by substituting women?)

#2 Gay marriage destroys families and by a greater extension society since family is the foundation of society

#3 Gay marriage is a sin

#4 Gay marriage will lead to the end of the world (aren’t some throwing around the end of the world as we know it in 10 years?)

#5 Gay marriage hurts our rights and priveledges

Ugh.

So here is why this language bothers me. No one is saying the fundamental fear, the real reason why my Church has joined this coalition. The real fear is that if gay marriage becomes a reality and a constitutional amendment, a Church can be held unconstitutional by choosing not to perform gay marriage. That’s the real fear.

Otherwise, the arguments don’t stand.

#2: Because honestly, I know many many gay couples who have been together for 10, 15, 20, even 50+ years. They are stable and are contributing to the stability of society. They treat each other with love, they are forming a family unit providing stability to our way of life. They are good parents of children, and good parents of animals (important in my book!).

#1: Gay marriage does not threaten my marriage to Joel. We’re still very happy thank you, and I don’t see how it will threaten how we communicate and relate with each other. In fact I have learned a lot about healthy marriages and relationships from my friends in gay marriages and/or partnerships. Yes I believe that marriage can be eternal, and I absolutely believe in the beautiful relationship that results when the sexes are equally partnered. I believe that most likely eternal, religious marriage will always just be between man and woman. But in terms of earthly marriage and how it is defined in the legal code, people have the right to commit to be with whomever they want to. Yes Californian homosexuals might receive many of the rights I’ve mentioned before of tax breaks, common property, healthcare, etc. but prop 8 denies them the right of public commitment before the law.

Whether or not gay marriage is a sin should not even be used as a reason. We’ve been told not to judge, that God will be the judger and if we judge others we’ll be held accountable. Live your covenants, and don’t make other people live covenants they haven’t made with God. Please keep religion out of defining what marriage is in law. Like Jon said, “Get religion out of our government and get government out of our religions.” I personally think that using religion to justify why certain laws should or should not exist will lead to #4, and not gay marriage. We keep heading down this path, and we’ll all be forced to be Born Agains, or Evangelical, or Muslim, or Mormon, or Catholic, or Jewish, or Atheists. We’ll be taught in our schools what is doctrine and what is not. We’ll be told how we should practice our religion. Do you want that? I don’t and I will fight till my dying day to keep government out of religion and religion out of government.

So the real fear is #5, that it hurts our rights because it’s possible that the Church could be forced to perform gay marriage in our temples. Catholics are afraid of performing gay marriage in temples, or being forced to give their orphans to gay couples.

This is what makes me angry about what CA Latter-day Saints are being asked to do. Everyone, including our leaders, just lose arguments 1-4 because they don’t stand and let’s just address #5. The Protect Marriage Coalition certainly isn’t. Why are we part of it? We aren’t operating under a limited light and knowledge in regards to 1-4. We know it as well as everyone else. Instead, work towards laws that maintain the separation of Church and state, allow a church to define marriage however it wants, to definite family however it wants, and allow gay and straight people to get married, to have civil unions, and to do that in a Church that wants to offer gay and straight marriage, or only straight marriage, or whatever marriage, or gay and straight marriage by a Justice of the Peace. So let’s just leave this Protect Marriage Coalition and do the real right thing here. Let’s live true to our religious and American views of equality as well as the separation of Church and State. Let’s write a law that insures equal rights, equal families, equal marriage, and maintain Church and State at the same time and the right for a Religion to practice how, where, and when it may. Passing Prop 8 is not going to do that, and is going to violate a lot of principles that we hold dear.

And now for the thing that upsets me most. Not only do I dearly believe in the separation of Church and State, and not only is that a part of my scriptural doctrine, but the Church has always made a big deal about never telling it’s members who to vote for and how to vote. Fundamental stance for us, and here we are telling CA saints how to vote and why they should vote that way. And it’s not just Californians telling other Californians how to vote, but it’s Idahoans and BYU students, and institutes across the country.

We’re using words that don’t spread tolerance, that make our gay brothers and sisters hate themselves. We’re using arguments that are false. We are not showing our best Christian selves. We are not showing our best American selves. My relief society president, for whom I serve as first councilor, actually banned the entire topic of homosexuality from our Relief Society because in her words, “you never know who is gay and who isn’t and this Relief Society will not be the place where they decide to hate themselves forever or permanently leave the church and hate Mormons.” We are making people permanently hate us.

And lastly, if we’re going to go ahead and get messy with telling people how to vote and getting all involved with elections, what about doing something about poverty? We’re told to have “no poor among us” and yet there are 400,000 Utahns without healthcare. If we put this much effort into living our religious beliefs, we’d be comforting everyone we could, we’d have empathy for people who don’t believe the way we do, we’d eradicate poverty and starvation in a heart beat, there’d be peace on earth. This is mostly what makes me unhappy about what’s happening with Prop 8. Let’s do some real good, not make people feel bad about themselves.

I didn’t plan on making prop 8 a big issue. I have always been vocal about what I think, I thought everyone knew where I stood on this issue, and it is outside my stewardship as a resident of Utah to tell Californians how to vote. But I read Elder Ballard’s and Elder Cook’s talks and they encouraged me to go viral with how I felt about prop 8 so I followed my priesthood leadership and did just that. This is not only how I feel rationally when I reason through equality on the doctrinal and governmental level, but it is what I feel is right. It is what is communicated to my soul, what the “plain and precious voice” says to me.

Now respond or argue, don’t. Think about what I said, don’t. Change your mind, don’t. I’m a big fan of free agency and you have the right to agree with me 100%, 90%, 80%, 50%, 40%, or 0%. And I love you all still the same, and I hope you love me the same and don’t worry about my choices or beliefs. You worry about yours, and I’ll worry about mine. And together we won’t collectively worry about the rest of America or the world. We’ll just love each other and get rid of monstrosities like having poverty in the 21st century. And like I said before, I’m open minded enough to think that we’re all right to varying degrees. I hope some of you can admit that too about my beliefs.

I love our house. We recently passed our one year anniversary of being home-owners, but there are still days when I drive home from work, turn onto our street, and get a little thrill from the idea that this is actually ours. We live here.

We’ve been working hard on yard projects all summer because the yard was in really tragic condition when we bought the house. The backyard had basically been used as a large dog pen and was covered in dog poo. The grass in front and back was patchy and filled with not only a lot of weeds, but a lot of different kinds of grass. I’m not sure if they seeded or patched with differing types of sod, or if it’s just how the lawn developed over it’s lifetime, but it still kind of strikes me as strange that there’s so many different kinds of grass in one small lawn.

The people we bought the house from had put up a fence, which was one of the best things they did, because all three of the neighboring yards are pretty trashy. But that said, they did a kind of terrible job installing the fence. They didn’t weather proof it at all, so some of the posts are warping and it just looks really rough. But last weekend we cleaned it and put a coat of stain/sealer on it – and I can’t believe the difference. It still needs some repairs in a few places, but it seriously looks like an entirely new fence. It really changes the personality of the backyard, from feeling a little rundown to feeling rather posh.

Our other big-ish project is putting in a paver patio. We are about halfway done with that one – it’s taking forever, mainly because I messed up on the math a few times now and we just keep having to make trips to Home Depot to get more stones. Plus, we both just have sedans, so it’s not like we can bring 160 pavers home at a time. It’s going to be really nice when it’s done though. The “patio” that the previous owners were using, was about 2 square feet of cinder blocks with some 2-by-4’s laid on top. Not cute and not really very safe. And the idea of the bugs that were flourishing in all those mini cinder block caves never failed to creep me out. Erica tore most of that out while I was at work one day, and it even creeped her out a bit – and she’s not a chicken about bugs like I am.

We’ve also torn out quite a bit of what was planted in the yard, and replaced a lot of it with stuff we like better. They had planted about 7 arbor vitaes along the back fenceline, but then basically let them die, so there were the maybe 6-foot-tall “evergreens” that were all brown. There were several really ugly bushes that we tore out, and also they had planted a vegetable garden in a too-small patch right next to the house. We tore that out and put in a raised garden for veggies – we’ve had some yummy squash and peppers, and a tomato or two so far, with many more yet to ripen.

There are a ton of other things we want to do. We really want to paint the trim and the front door and the garage door – but at this point that will be a next summer project, or else we won’t do it at all.

The Seatlle-move update is that we are going to stay one more year in our house, because to rent it out now would mean paying capital gains taxes when we sell. So we will wait until next summer and re-asses. If the market has improved, we’ll go ahead and sell then, and if not, we’ll rent it.

There are drawbacks to postponing the move. Namely, I will have to survive another legislative session here in Utah.😦 And Erica will have to endure a work environment that she doesn’t love as much as she used to. But the one thing I am happy about is staying in our house and getting a few more things done. It is our home, and when it comes time to let someone else live here, it will be with a lot of bittersweet feelings.

Okay, that was cheesy, I know.🙂

I worked the farmers market this morning at a booth for my work. I have never been a morning person, so the prospect of being at the park by 7 AM is very daunting for me. I was quite dreading it last night, because I feel a little sleep deprived this past week and I was longing to sleep in.

The great thing about the farmers market is that once you are there, it’s really a lovely way to spend the morning. Despite the fact that it was 97 degrees (or more) today, it was very pleasant and cool this morning, and I also lucked out with a spot under the trees so I was in the shade all day.

Once I was there and set up, I sat enjoying the cool clear post-sunrise and watching the beginnings of activity, and really wished I could develop into a morning person. It’s so beautiful and peaceful at that time of day. The quiet bustle of the farmers and vendors getting their produce set up and the early risers starting to shop. One of my favorite parts of being at the farmers market that early is hearing the church bells chime at eight o’clock at the orthodox greek church across the street.

Even later on, once it gets quite busy, it’s still a peaceful kind of busy. The crowds are dense, but most everyone is strolling slowly, seeing what each booth has to offer. It is one of the best things in Salt Lake, in my opinion. There’s so much diversity to be seen and everyone is just co-existing peacefully. It makes Salt Lake seem like a much bigger and more diverse city than it really is.

I also got a whole lot of great produce for very little money. I got 6 ears of corn, 2 giant zucchinis, 2 big onions, 3 cloves of garlic (is a clove the whole big thing or each individual part of the whole? i’m not sure – in any case, I got 3 of the whole big things of garlic), and a basketful of small baby red potatoes, all for about $11.

The only sad thing about the day is that my honey had to close tonight, so I worked from 7AM to 1PM and by the time I packed up and got home, she was about to get in the shower to be at work at 3, and she’ll get home around midnight. Ships passing in the mid-afternoon.

What an incredible moment last night, listening to the speech of the man who is hopefully our next President.

If you missed it, you really should watch it. It’s on YouTube, though you have to watch it in sections. Here’s the first:

People will criticize, because that’s what we do now. But I really believe we saw a speech of the ages – a speech that people will quote and refer to for decades to come.

Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land: enough!

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.
We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president, when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000, like it has under George Bush.
We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

That’s the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans – Democrats and Republicans have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America, they have served the United States of America.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America’s promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.
For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
America, this is one of those moments.

That’s one of my favorite lines from “Angels in America,” part of which I rewatched last night.

I have neglected the blog terribly the past while, for some good and not-so-good reasons.There are always going to be reasons to not find the time to write – work, yard projects, etc. But I’ve also been second-guessing myself a bit, as far as what I’m writing here and what, if anything, it accomplishes.

I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago that has stopped me in my tracks a bit. It was an opportunity to share some very personal moments from my coming out journey, and I did it in good faith that the person I shared them with would at least acknowledge their importance to me. I’ve held onto this idea that even people who don’t agree with my decision to accept myself might develop a little bit of understanding if they knew the whole story. But it didn’t work out that way, and along with being incredibly hurtful and disappointing, the experience has caused me to re-evaluate a few things.

So, I’m being purposefully vague, because the person I had this conversation with is a dear loved one and I don’t want to “out” him, for want of a better word, because the conversation was intended to be private.

But the long and short of it is, I felt like I really put myself out there and shared some very personal and sacred experiences that have led to me this place where I feel with all of my heart that I am living the life God would have me live. And although the other person probably felt like he put himself out there as well, after listening to me, came back to me with what felt like the standard Mormon response: “But this is what the prophet said…”

Here’s the thing I hope I learned though – my mistake in going into this conversation with the level of expectation I did was that I was asking him to do the same thing he was asking me to do, which is question my own set of beliefs and my relationship with God. For him, this is a black and white issue and to allow even a little bit of compassion for my circumstances is akin to denying his testimony of the prophets.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and how it might have gone differently, but in reality, I’m not sure there was any other outcome. Either I have to change what I firmly believe or he has to – and neither of those things is likely to happen. But that’s a very sad thing for both of us.

So. What now? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I’ll be as willing to share my experiences as readily as I did this time if someone else inquires down the road. I’d like to think I can, but it’s very hurtful to have those experiences rejected outright.

I am hoping/planning to start posting more often here – although I hope I can change the tone a bit. I had been using the blog as a place to vent about things that get to me – in addition to sharing some of my coming out experiences and current experiences. But I think I’ve let the venting take center stage, and I feel it ends up mis-representing my life. It’s seemed like a safe place to blow off steam where people can come and choose to read it or not. No one is required to stick around if they disagree, and that’s the beauty of blogging in general. But I don’t like to think that someone, whether they know me personally or not, would come across this blog and let the feelings expressed here confirm a preconceived notion that gay people are angry and unhappy people. Because that is far from true.

For today, I leave you with one last quote from “Angels in America”:

Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least, I think that’s so.