Monday, January 21, 2008

In support of gay marriage

There have been a couple of posts recently in the queerosphere about gay marriage by Post-It Boy and Original Mohomie. Quite coincidently, I've had this post I've been working on and was planning on publishing this week. But I have a different view on this topic. I'm approaching this from a societal point of view - is gay marriage good or bad for society?

I've always supported granting committed monogamous same sex couples the same legal rights and benefits as married couples - even back in my homophobic-in-denial days. But, I've had a change of heart over the last few months. And, I'm now ready to declare my support for full blown gay marriage.

But, now that creates a dilemma for me. The church handbook of instructions, which is the authoritative source regarding church policy, states:
"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged "to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender."
"Church Handbook of Instructions", book 1 p.187

Not that my support means anything - add $0.50 and you'd have enough to buy a newspaper. But, it is a milestone for me personally. You see, a number of years ago, while living in California, I heeded the churches call and hit the streets going door to door seeking signatures to oppose same sex unions. Mind you, I wasn't very successful in my efforts. Many of the people I talked to assumed I was gathering signatures for the other side. They would say something to the effect that they didn't have anything personal against people like me, but that they were against gay marriage - and then shut the door before I could explain that was what I was gathering signatures for. I don't think I'm that obvious - but, maybe I am, if you look at me in the context of homosexuality [sigh]. It really bothered me at the time as I was still deep in my denial phase.

We hear the 'sanctity of marriage' argument all the time; but, I don't get it - I don't understand how gay marriage has any impact on the sanctity of a heterosexual marriage. Once, when channel surfing, I paused on the Logo TV station (A GLBT cable station). They were showing a clip of Barney Frank, an openly gay member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who was saying something to the effect of: "How does me loving another man affect your marriage?" I don't have an answer to that question - because it doesn't have an answer. Two men or two women loving one another and living in a marriage-like relationship has absolutely zero impact on my marriage.

A year ago, this whole gay marriage thing was all academic to me - because I didn't know anybody in such a relationship. But, over the last few months, I've had an opportunity to meet some gay couples in committed monogamous relationships. I've yet to meet any in person, but I've gotten to know them online through their blogs and emails. And, you know what, they are nice people. People whom I wouldn't mind living next door to me. People whom I wouldn't have any qualms about inviting into my home. And, the loving relationship they have for one another - suffice it to say that there are a lot of heterosexual couples who should be taking notes. So, if this issue ever comes to a vote of the people in the great state of Texas - I will cast my vote for gay marriage.

But, this doesn't set well with formal church policy? In fact, "... reject all efforts to give legal authorization ..." suggests that even civil unions are to be opposed; so, I've been at odds with formal church policy for years and didn't even know it.

If the church opposes something, does that mean that I, as a faithful member of the church, must oppose it as well? If the church encourages me to do something - what if I refuse? What if, instead of doing what the church is encouraging me to do - I do the exact opposite instead, i.e. appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to support gay marriage. Is it possible to be a faithful church member while disagreeing with certain church policies? And, it is a policy, not a doctrine. It may be rooted in doctrine; but, it is not doctrine in itself. And, policies can, and do, change over time.

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that churches must also recognize gay marriages if they are accepted by society. Churches have the right to define their own values. For example, consumption of alcoholic beverages is accepted in our society - although not in the LDS church. But, it is my most humble opinion that the church is fighting a losing battle on the issue of gay marriage and is painting itself into a corner. It's already legally supported in many countries - it's probably only a matter of time before it becomes legal here in the U.S. as well. The church has a policy of political neutrality which it vigorously enforces - except for this issue. Personally, I think the church ought to adopt an position of political neutrality on this issue as well.

The fact of the matter is: Gay people are among us and are here to stay. If we don't allow gay couples to marry - aren't we, therefore, encouraging them to engage in the stereotypical gay lifestyle of promiscuous sex? If we really want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, isn't society better served by promoting committed monogamous relationships? Isn't it better for children to be raised in a two parent home - even if both parents are of the same gender?

Help me out here - why is gay marriage bad for society? Even if we agree that gay sex is wrong, if two people are going to engage in gay sex, isn't it better for us to encourage them to do so in a committed monogamous relationship rather than in one-night-stands with some guy they don't even know? Don't monogamous relationships help fight the battle against sexually transmitted diseases? By opposing gay marriage on the grounds that gay sex is wrong - aren't we cutting off our nose to spite our face?

Some other arguments I've heard against gay marriage are:

  • First gay marriage, next plural marriage, then marriage between humans and animals
  • Churches will be forced to perform gay marriages

But, such claims are ridiculous (to put it mildly) and only tug on people's emotions without any facts to back them up.

By supporting gay marriage - can I still be considered a faithful member of the church? Or have I planted my feet firmly on the road to apostasy? Am I standing in the great and spacious building pointing my finger at and mocking those who oppose gay marriage? Or, is this simply my way of being in the world but not of the world, and has no impact on my faithfulness whatsoever? I choose to believe the latter.

Hmmm, my next temple recommend interview could be interesting; but, I have until 2009 before I have to worry about that ...


UPDATE: Results of the gay marriage poll

17 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

Thanks, Abelard. This affects real people in real ways.

My boyfriend Tobi is not a US citizen and is in the process of trying to establish permanent residency (i.e., get a Green Card). Since we cannot marry (at least in the eyes of the Federal government, thanks to a law signed by Clinton known as DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act]), I am powerless to help him in any way. Regardless of the life we are building together Tobi and I remain legal strangers.

If we were allowed to marry (and have it count) it would be an easy matter for me to arrange for permanent residency for Tobi. As it stands, not only can I not help him, we must hide our relationship from the government because, perversely, if they knew about it they could use this information to deny him entry to the US on the grounds that he might not leave when his current visa expires. (This actually happens to gay couples, BTW. People with valid visas are denied entry at the border because of this.)

People who don't think this is cruel and unfair have hearts of stone.

MoHoHawaii said...

While I'm on my soapbox...

A high-ranking State Department official recently quit the service because, unbelievably, the State Department treats family pets better than it treats his same-sex partner of many years.

For example, pets get airlifted out in case of emergency at a foreign post. On the other hand, the man he has spent 30 years of his life with has to fend for himself in that same emergency.

Something has to change.

Foxx said...

A religion is a set of beliefs, not opinions. For them to tell you what to think and what to support goes beyond the reasonable boundary of control or influence an organization should exert.

Besides, I highly doubt you'd be un-recommended for your temple renewal because of your views on a marriage issue (unless it was about polygamy). ;)

So feel how you feel, and do what you feel is right! For that which is good, cometh from Christ and all that.

Abelard Enigma said...

I am powerless to help him in any way. Regardless of the life we are building together Tobi and I remain legal strangers.

That is an injustice! There are other injustices as well; such as, if you partner goes into the hospital, in many states (such as Texas), medical privacy laws may prevent his doctor from talking to you because you are not family.

I highly doubt you'd be un-recommended for your temple renewal because of your views on a marriage issue.

I agree that supporting gay marriage in and of itself isn't grounds for being denied a temple recommend. But, there is that other pesky question:

Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?

This question is really aimed at polygamy and anti-mormon groups/people. But, there are some who could give it a broader interpretation.

But, I still don't think that is an issue in this particular case. I'm not out demonstrating in support of gay marriage. I'm not giving of my time or money to organizations that are pushing for gay marriage. I'm simply stating my opinion. If we kept people out of the temple for simply having an opinion that doesn't line up with church policy then I suspect our temples would be very lonely places.

(unless it was about polygamy)

Well, there are those Gay Mormon Polygamists Flocking to Massachusetts.

Peter said...

I hope one day to be legally gay married.

You know, I think what will happen (and what "conservatives" fear) is that gay marriage will become legal, and nothing will change. The thing is, gay couples already exist. They already have families. Providing them with legal marriages will greatly enhance their lives, but it will not impact or change society. There will not suddenly be more gay people in the world. You will not suddenly be forced to watch more gay PDA.

The day will come, and I pray it comes quickly, when gay couples will be married, and it will not hurt anyone. It will help those gay couples immensely, but it will not hurt you or anyone else.

Scot said...

Thank you.

Max Power said...

Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?

That is the exact question that I've been having issues with being able to answer the next time I go in for recommend renewal. I'm like you Abe, even though I don't see myself as ever being in a gay marriage, I completely support the concept for those who choose to pursue it. I don't see how allowing gay marriage will destroy society. I think that the trailer trash hetero couples all across America are doing a fine job of destroying society.

Abelard Enigma said...

In the past, I've received emails referencing that specific question and asking if I can truthfully answer it in the negative.

What I find interesting is how literal people take that question when referring to things gay. If we are going to take that question so literally then none of us should have, as friends, anyone who is having sex outside of a legal marriage. Because such individuals have practices which are contrary to the church. Yet, how many of us know guys who are sexually active with their girl friend? Funny that nobody questions befriending such heathens.

But, I don't believe the question is to be interpreted so literally. The question is about apostasy. The way I interpret it is: Am I affiliated with, or have sympathies, with any apostate group or individual. An apostate is defined as anyone who is actively preaching against the church and/or is seeking to influence others against the church (according to the handbook of instructions). I can truthfully answer "No" to that question. The fact of the matter is, I don't even know any such individuals.

We have people here in the queerosphere who have left the church behind - perhaps even have an occasional harsh statement against the church. But, I don't believe anyone is actively trying to 'convert' me to their way of thinking. In fact, quite the opposite. What I feel is respect for those of us who wish to remain active in the church, even though they no longer agree with its teachings. And I, putting article of faith #11 into practice, grant to them the same privilege and respect their new found beliefs/unbeliefs.

draco said...

Thanks Abelard :)

J G-W said...

Abe - I can't help you in your quest to find out exactly how same-sex marriage is ruining heterosexual marriage and destroying Western Civilization. The answers to those questions will have to come from others, because I agree with every word you've said here.

Beck said...

For what it's worth, I, too, find no evidence to suggest that gay marriage has any deliterious affect on marriage as an institution whatsoever. In fact, with the examples of Mohohawaii, Scot, and J G-W, among others, shining in our midst, and Foxx and Peter setting honorable paths as well, I see nothing but good coming from committed relationships of love.

I don't feel that I am an apostate for stating the above.

Neal said...

Abe:

The Church regularly opposes political and societal trends it believes are in conflict with the Gospel. This is just the current item in the spotlight.

Matthew 10 (Christ speaking):

"34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household."

The fight for the hearts and minds of men knows no political boundaries or physical borders. We are all free to accept or reject the counsel of the Brethren, and to reap the consequences or rewards of those decisions.

I don't think sympathizing with this particular issue is one that would keep you out of the Temple.

Regards,

Neal

Romulus said...

I loved this post. Thank you.

Remus said...

I very much agree. I've heard so many people say that letting gays get married will lead to worse things like some of the things that you mentioned. But I don't want to be degraded to the animals (as we often are) and that we don't have rights. We have rights like anyone else to be happy if we don't hurt others. Especially because we don't hurt others.

MoHoHawaii said...

The Church regularly opposes political and societal trends it believes are in conflict with the Gospel.

The historical trend is that the church temporarily opposes social trends and ideas until it eventually accommodates them.

Consider: rejection of theocracy in favor of democracy, women's suffrage, monogamy, integration of women into the working world, equal treatment of blacks, elimination of patriarchal marriage (the submission of wife to husband), deemphasis of the doctrine of eternal progression, recognition of sexual orientation as innate, ...

Change in the church has always been led by broader social trends, and the church always accommodates.

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household...

This kind of divisiveness is exactly the problem. If we are to live together without bloodshed, we need to overcome our differences with respect and civility.

Neal said...

MH,

"Change in the church has always been led by broader social trends, and the church always accommodates."

Not true. Society wants to drink, smoke, take drugs, have premarital sex, live together out of wedlock, divorce at will, look at porn, get into debt, have few or no children, etc. etc. The Church has never condoned these trends, nor do I think it will ever condone same gender marriage. Doctrinally it is a dead end with no hope of Eternal continuation.

There is a huge difference between policy and doctrine. There are rarely changes in doctrine, but there are often changes in policy.

Regards,

Neal

Dave said...

Thanks for that post and for your support!