A day I didn’t think would ever come in my lifetime arrived Tuesday. The Mormon church announced its support of the LGBT community on anti-discrimination legislation.
“This appeal for a balanced approach between religious and gay rights does not represent a change or shift in doctrine for the Church,” said Lance Walker of the LDS church’s D.C. advocacy office in a statement emailed to faith activists. “It does represent a desire to bring people together, to encourage mutually respectful dialogue in what has become a highly polarized national debate.”
While some maintain that this is a political move, and it remains unclear to what extent Mormons will actually embrace the gay community, any step toward equality and acceptance is a huge victory for our society.
The world of 10 and 20 years ago is almost unrecognizable today.
Even as recently as 2008, Proposition 8 was successfully passed in California, effectively banning gays and lesbians from being married statewide. The law, which was heavily supported by the Mormon church at the time, was in effect for four years until it was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional because it was discriminatory.
We’ve come a long way.
During his tenure, President Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law, which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military, but only under the condition that they not reveal their sexual orientation.
While Clinton’s purpose was to give gays the right to be in the military without offending the delicate sensibilities of those already serving in it, the message to gays was a destructive one: “Stay in the closet.”
“We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said President Barack Obama, who spoke on the matter while the law was being repealed.
Obama, who is the only sitting president of the U.S. to openly support same-sex marriage, supported LGBT rights after Vice President Joe Biden announced his own support for the group.
During the reign of President George W. Bush, the idea of legal “civil unions” was the big way to placate the LGBT community, which was literally an offering of a separate-but-equal solution to traditional marriage.
Last year, Pope Francis opened up the Catholic Church to gays in a move that will pave the way for LGBT people on the most difficult battlefront – religion.
The government hasn’t fully come around to accepting gays and giving them equal rights on things like marriage and adoption, but it is only a matter of time before the lawmakers set in their ways realize they’re on the wrong side of what’s right.
… it does represent a desire to bring people together, to encourage mutually respectful dialogue in what has become a highly polarized national debate.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
No one is making, or going to make, religious institutions do anything to support gays because of the First Amendment, which they shouldn’t. True equality doesn’t come from the stroke of a pen; it comes from redefining ideals etched into our being.
We have the ability to re-evaluate the values we hold and the decisions we’ve made, and recognize when we’ve been wrong or have been unfair and unjust.
The laws changing to support equality help shape the way we think, but they don’t dictate it.
We’re never going to all agree that we should have the right to have unabridged access to guns, or that women should have the right to get abortions, but these laws are there to guide our way of thinking as well as protect us and our rights as free people.
Government support is one thing, but religious support is of unparalleled importance. Religious people are indoctrinated at a young age.
I’m not using indoctrination in a negative sense; freshmen in college need to be indoctrinated into school so they know what to do and what classes to take.
What young people learn in churches and other religious institutions will shape the way they feel for a very long time – if not, forever.
This announcement is a very important step that can begin the process of rethinking what we teach our children. Telling kids that being gay is wrong only damages them.
A child who is born gay who is taught that being gay is wrong might stay in the closet and live an unhappy life; they might even act out and physically attack gay people in an attempt to prove to themselves and others that they aren’t gay.
Kids who hear the anti-gay message and aren’t gay might take a long time to accept their peers who come out as gay, potentially ruining good friendships they’ve cultivated and alienate themselves as a person who hates others without purpose.
These outcomes don’t help society; they hurt it.
The Mormon church is one that I didn’t expect to see make this move in the 21st century, and who knows where it will lead, but it’s an excellent first step toward true acceptance for future generations.