Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weighing in part deux

I am intrigued with how the coverage of the Peter Danzig story is unfolding in the Mormon queerosphere. There is no shortage of people who support Peter Danzig and condemn the church. But, there is surprisingly little support for the church on this issue - even from those who normally are very supportive of the church. In fact, one might say the silence is deafening.

A fellow member of the family said, in a private email "The Danzig case has really sent a chill up my spine!" This has given me pause and caused me to wonder if, perhaps, a chill went up the collective spine of the entire Mormon queerosphere. I've come down on the side of the church on this issue; but, I'm feeling very much alone.

There are really two issues here intermingled together.
  • The dismissal of Jeffrey Nielson, a visiting lecturer of philosophy at BYU, because of his challenge to church opposition for gay marriage.
  • The treatment of Peter Danzig, a clinical psychologist and member of the temple square orchastra, for several letters he wrote opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment and the dismissal of Jeffrey Nielson.

Regarding Jeffrey Nielson: As I understand it, BYU instructors and employees contract themselves to not criticize the church as a condition of their employment. While many feel those terms are unjust, he did agree to them and was subsequently guilty of violating them. Similar terms are common among most large employers; I have similar contractual restrictions with my employer - you don't bite the hand the feeds you. So I'm not as bothered by him being dismissed for violating the terms of his employment. Whether or not I agree with those terms is irrelevant since he agreed to them.

I realize now that the case of Peter Danzig is not so cut and dry. I confess that my primary source of information prior writing my previous blog post was the article in the Salt Lake Tribune and the church's response on I have since read his personal account and am now wondering if, perhaps, I might have been a bit hasty in my judgment.

In my previous blog post, I stated "this really isn't about gay marriage - it's about publicly denouncing church leadership." I still believe that. The question is: Did Peter Danzig publicly denounce church leadership? Of this I'm not so certain any more. Even if he did publicly denounce church leadership - if his account is to be believed then the actions by various church leaders is inexcusable - not so much in what was done, but in how he and his family were treated.

Something else is bothering me. in the response titled "Care for the Flock" in the newsroom on it states:

In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ." In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.

Now, that latter statement, highlighted in bold, may be true in the strictness sense. The Letter from First Presidency of the Church to church leaders in the United States may not have specifically instructed members of the church to oppose the amendment. However, other statements by the church have specifically requested such course of action. For example, 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

As indicated in my previous post, I was faced with opposing accounts and I favored the one presented by the church. However, when the church contradicts itself - how do I reconcile that?

Somebody help me here - I'm in a quandary. I truly do not know what to think anymore. I want to exonerate the church in this issue, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

Update: Results of the poll

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Weighing in

There has been a fair amount of discussion lately in the Mormon blogosphere about Peter and Mary Danzig. The gist of the story is that they were kicked out of the temple square orchestra and ultimately left the church because of their support for gay marriage. Northern Lights has a comprehensive list of links where this issue is being discussed, including a press release by the LDS church. So, I thought I would weigh in and offer up my $0.02 on the subject.

To be brutally honest, I'm leaning more towards the church on this issue. Now, defending the church might seem odd coming from a person who, himself, recently declared his support for gay marriage. But, the way I see it, this really isn't about gay marriage - it's about publicly denouncing church leadership.

There is a big difference between having a personal opinion which is at odds with the church, and publicly denouncing the church because they don't agree with you. To denounce the leaders of an organization and to encourage other members of that organization to do likewise is, by definition, apostasy.

As members of the temple square orchestra, the Danzig's were ambassadors for the church, which is also a factor. When you are representing an organization then there is a certain standard of behavior which is expected. If I were meeting with a customer as a representative of my employer and I denounced my employer in that meeting then they would have every right to terminate my employment.

If Peter Danzig had written to the newspaper as a private citizen expressing his support for gay marriage without pulling the church into it then I doubt very much this would have escalated as it did. This is evidenced by comments in the various articles about other people who had written letters to the newspaper expressing their support for gay marriage without any action being taken against them. So, while I'm sympathetic with his views towards gay marriage, I am not sympathetic with his approach in voicing those views.

Just my $0.02 on the subject.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Saving marriage

Apparently, according to the associated press, a pastor in Southwest Florida has challenged the married couples in his congregation to have sex every day for 30 days in order to combat the high divorce rate.

And here I thought It's All Because (The Gays Are Getting Married) that was the cause of the high divorce rate - who knew?

Is it just me, or does this sound eerily similar to the "get married and start having sex with a women and you'll turn into a heterosexual" advice that was being given to gay men in the 70's and 80's?

And what is it with heterosexuals? Why are they so fixated on sex? They think it's the cure for everything!

Newsflash! Sex is a manifestation of love - not the source of love. It is completely possible to love someone and not have sex with them. And, not having sex can be a symptom of a troubled marriage - not the cause.

Somebody needs to go back to school and study up on root cause analysis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I'm feeling disenfranchised!

Today begins early voting for the Texas primaries which will be held on March 4, 2008. I'm angry with Romney and Giuliani - why couldn't they have waited until all of us have had a chance to cast our vote before withdrawing? Texas isn't some podunk state (like Utah), we rank 2nd in the number of republican delegates. Yet, the republican primary is pretty much settled before we even get a chance to vote. Believe me - I'm going to remember this in 2012 - neither of those weenies deserves to be in the white house! Someone who is going to call it quits at the first sign of trouble is not someone I want to entrust our national security to.

In Texas, you do not register for a party - you declare you party affiliation by which primary you vote in. I've considered voting in the democrat's primary - at least my vote for a presidential candidate might actually count for something - too bad I don't want any of them in the white house.

McCain for president - whoop de doo.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This blog brought to you by the letter "H"

My daughter and I were chatting recently about favorite movies; and, she decided that I have a certain affinity towards movies that begin with the letter "H" as my favorites include Hairspray, Harry Potter (1-5), Hellboy, High School Musical (1 & 2) Hocus Pocus, Holes, and Hook. Plus Harry Potter 6, Hellboy II and High School Musical 3 are coming out later this year. However, I do not like horror movies, like Halloween or scary movies like Hollow Man.

On TV I like Heros and House.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I was browsing through my blogging statistics and noticed that someone from Laramie Wyoming had visited my blog. I paused, wondering why that place was sticking out in my mind. I don't know anybody in Wyoming, much less Laramie. And then it hit me - that is where Matthew Shepherd was brutally murdered in a homophobic hate crime.

Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998 two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, lead Matthew Shepherd to a remote area east of Laramie where they demonstrated unimaginable acts of hate. Matthew was tied to a split-rail fence where he was beaten and left to die in the cold of the night. Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Matthew died on October 12 at 12:53 am at a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. His entire family was by his side for the last few days of his life. His funeral was attended by friends and family from around the world. Matthew's story brought media attention to the forefront of the fight against hate.

That was nearly 10 years ago - how much progress have we made in the fight against hate? Not much, I'm afraid. Sure, we've had some hate crime bills passed. But, to be honest, I'm ambivalent about such legislation. It seems more like a 'feel good' action that accomplishes little, if anything.

Hate is a double edged sword. There are many who profess to be Christians who embody hate as they reject anything perceived to 'further the homosexual agenda'. On the other side, there are many who demonstrate against hate, yet they also embody hate as they rail against the religious right. Is fighting hate with hate the answer?

... and many of us here in the Mormon queerosphere are suspended in the middle - rejected by both sides. Beck' addressed this in his recent post titled Ilk upon the landscape....

Many of us have experienced homophobia first hand. In Junior High and High School, I was labeled by some as a queer or faggot. While I was never physically harmed, I was verbally abused, I was pushed and shoved; once they spray painted "FAGGOT" on my locker door. As a result, I had very few friends in school. After all, who wants to be friends with the faggot?

But, that was a long time ago. Are things any better in our schools today? Sadly, it doesn't appear much has changed in the last 35 years.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youth, up to 42 percent identify as lesbian or gay, and a disproportionate number identify as bisexual or transgender. Why do LGBT youth become homeless? In one study, 26 percent of gay teens who came out to their parents/guardians were told they must leave home. LGBT youth also leave home due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. LGBT youth report they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters by staff as well as other residents.
According to the Safe Schools Coalition
  • LGBTQ youth are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.
  • 58.7% of homeless and runaway LBGTQ youth have been sexually victimized (compared to 33.4% of heterosexual youth).
  • LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to exhibit the symptoms of major depression.
  • LGTBQ youth use illicit substances more frequently than heterosexual youth and use more types of drugs.

It's not all doom and gloom. There are support organizations for youth and others that did not exist in my day. Many churches (including the LDS church), while still rejecting homosexuality, have softened their stance. Gone are the days when you could be excommunicated for mere admission of being a homosexual without any evidence of homosexual acts. Gone are the days when family was threatened with disciplinary action for simply supporting a gay child because they were perceived to be 'supporting or having sympathies towards any group or individual whose teachings were contrary to that of the church'. Gone are the days of aversion therapy where people where subjected to electric shock and drugs to make them violently ill while viewing gay pornography in an effort to turn them into a heterosexual. . . . But, we still have a ways to go.

As much as some of us try to distance ourselves from gay culture, whether we want to admit or not, all of us here in the Mormon queerosphere owe a certain debt of gratitude to gay pride and the courageous individuals who have risked incarceration, and even death, to fight for equality. Were it not for gay pride, homosexuality would still be viewed as a mental illness and a crime. And, as bad as it may seem at times, it is much better now than it was 50 years ago, and it's much better here in North America than it is in certain other parts of the world. Just 3 months ago, a 21 year old man was hanged in Iran -
having been convicted of having sex with another man.

But, homophobia is still going strong. Although, it is often much more subtle than in days past. Phrases like "that's so gay" where being gay is associated with being stupid and worthless. Families rejecting a gay child or sibling. Labeling any action that is favorable to homosexuals as "furthering the homosexual agenda" (whatever that means). Viewing an untimely death as God's just punishment for either being gay or for supporting homosexuality. Lumping everyone from those in committed monogamous relationships to those involved in drugs and promiscuous one-night stands as a single deviant group worthy of scorn. And the list goes on and on.

So, what is the answer? How can we combat rampant homophobia in our society? I don't think passing more hate crime legislation is the answer as it only tends to polarize society and cause each side to dig in further. But, I'm certainly not smart enough to know the answer.

UPDATE: Results on the poll

Question: Have you been a victim of homophobia? (select all that apply)

Saturday, February 9, 2008


The other day, I was at Whataburger for lunch (a fastfood chain in the southern US). Although I was getting it to-go, I prefer to go inside to order so I can fill my drink after ordering and then refill it again when I get my meal (Whataburger makes food to order, so they take longer than other burger chains).

I was standing in line behind this gentleman who was, I'm guessing, in his mid 30's casually dressed in slacks and a collared shirt. He placed his order and then went to sit at a table to wait. There was something about him that caught my attention. After placing my order and filling my drink, I stood over to the side to wait. My eyes scanned the room and rested on him. Again, there was something about him that I just couldn't put my finger on.
  • I've never seen him before, so it wasn't a feeling of recognition.
  • He wasn't that great looking; so, it wasn't a feeling of attraction.
  • Overall, he was pretty average and normal looking.

Yet, something about him kept grabbing my attention.

They called my number; so, I picked up my order, refilled my drink, and then left to get in my car. As I walked out the door, I glanced over one last time to look at this guy.

Now it's really bugging me. What was it about this guy that caught my attention? Is he gay? There certainly wasn't anything in the way he was dressed or sat there to suggest such; nor in his speech, although I only heard him speak a few words as he placed his order. It was lunch time, so the place was fairly crowded; so why him? As my eyes scanned the room, there was a table on the other side of the room with a couple of attractive college aged guys; so, if it was eye candy I was seeking for then that is where my gaze would have been.

I've always regarded gaydar as a myth; but, now I'm wondering if there is really something to it. Do we exhibit subtle clues that only someone else in the family would pick up, perhaps even subconsciously? Do we emit some sort of gay pheromones?

I'm sure I'll never see that guy again; so, I'll never be able to confirm my suspicions. But, there was just something about him that caught my attention.

UPDATE: Results of Gaydar Poll

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

Today is Super Tuesday; and, I hope everyone who lives in a state that has its primaries today exercises their right to vote! Texas primaries aren't until March 4th - which is pretty anticlimactic since, by then, it will likely be pretty much known who win will the primaries; but, I will still do my civic duty and vote.

Am I the only one who just can't get excited about any of the front running political candidates? I was really disappointed to see Giuliani bow out.

I am a registered republican - come November I will probably vote for the republican candidate, no matter who it is [shudder, please let it not be Huckabee or McCain].

In the republican primary I was going to vote for Giuliani. Now I will probably vote for Romney. Were I to vote in the Democratic primary, I think Barack would get my vote. I just can't stomach the thought of a Billery presidency.

But, having said that, I don't have to be excited about any of my votes. To be perfectly honest, I'm thoroughly disgusted with the whole thing. It's like asking if you want cat poop or dog poop for dinner - I don't want either! Fortunately Texas is a state that the Democrats usually concede to the Republicans; so, we don't have to listen to as much political drivil (from either party) as others do.

I used to be a TV News junkie, with FoxNews being my news outlet of choice. I don't even watch news on the TV anymore. Watching all of those talking heads drone on and on just makes me want to go out and shoot myself. I used to be a regular listener of Rush Limbaugh (a pompous schmuck, whom I happen to agree with on many issues). It's been months since I last tuned him in. These days, I get all of my news from the morning newspaper. At least, that way, I can choose which drivel to fill my head with.

Even if you are as thoroughly disgusted as I am - go out and vote!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is this weekend. "But wait..." I hear you asking "You're not into football, why do you know about Superbowl Sunday?" Because the friggin radio, TV, random guy on the street, you name it, is telling me every 5 seconds or so! Is there a presidential election this year? I wouldn't know - all I hear about is football! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Seriously folks, you don't know what it's like living in Texas during football season. You may think you know - you may say "yeah, football is big around here too." But, trust me, if you've never lived in Texas then you really don't know. I grew up in California and didn't move to Texas until after I was married; so, I know what it's like outside of Texas. Football isn't just big here - it's huge! It's consuming!

I'm really grateful that the Dallas Cowboys aren't in the superbowl - the last time was, I think, about 12 or 13 years ago. It was much worse then - we were deluged by superbowl everywhere we went! The Cowboys colors are blue and silver; so, everything was blue and silver (which ends up looking like gray in many cases). The grocery stores were selling Cowboys cookies; they had football shaped meatloaf. They were even selling blue and gray tortilla chips and blue and gray bread - seriously, that's just not right!

The Dallas Cowboys are getting a brand spanking new stadium in Arlington Texas (courtesy of the tax payers); and, Superbowl 2011 is scheduled to be played there. Can I come to Utah that weekend?