Monday, October 13, 2008

Gay Rights

Ok so as long as I can remember, my conscience has always told me that gay people weren't quite as "evil" as people often make them out to be, and that they deserve equal rights. This has been pretty difficult to reconcile with my religion, one that believes that being gay is a sin. Over the years I have maintained that even though the church will never feel the way I do, I still feel that gay people should still have equal rights, since we our government does, after all, believe in this idea of "separation of church and state" - particularly if they are born this way (and a BYU professor recently held a symposium that proved this is mostly the case). 

The other night, I felt really overcome because I was thinking about how I never had any gay friends growing up, neither any close gay relatives, and even though now I have a few gay friends, they never influenced my opinion on the matter, but even still, I've always felt strongly about this issue. It's weird, why do I care so much? I believe that there is a reason why I am supposed to be an advocate for equal rights, just as I feel, if I had been born in any other era, I would have fought women's rights, black rights, etc. I don't know what my purpose is, but I know there is one, and if nothing else, I know I shouldn't be quiet about this issue. 

But going back to religion, now the LDS church (my church) is spending millions of tithe-payer dollars to fight gay marriage in California, even though really the only big difference between civil unions (which they're o.k. with according to their official site, preservingmarriage.org) and marriage, is the term "marriage". Now it may also be mentioned that the church's policy is generally not to get involved in politics ("we do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government..." d&c 134:9) , and so I am like, well why now, why this matter? I may also add that in many countries like England, the government doesn't even deal with marriage, they just deal with civil unions, then you go to the temple and get your marriage (see mormonsformarriage.com) so, the government civil union doesn't even affect the religious marriage. They are entirely different. 

Now, I must say this is hurtful, especially to see the church that I love so much, fight against another thing I am very passionate about. I cannot tell my conscience how to feel, and I doubt I would ever forgive myself if I tried to change my conscience. But, if I don't agree with the church's opinion, or if I say, fight against Prop 8, then I am participating in activities that are  against the church's teachings, which is wrong. But how can I not when the church is now going to make a name for itself in the world where if I talk to my friends that are gay, they will say "you belong to that church that wants me to be a second-class citizen, that I am not worthy of marriage because of how I was born". I mean, take a tiger and try to say it can't have stripes- impossible right? Well, one would reply, it's because he's born that way- well, gay people are born a way too, and just b/c it's not a part of your skin, doesn't mean it can be changed. Or tell a straight person they have to be gay- wouldn't work, I can't be gay, so why expect a gay person to be straight?

ANYWAYS, I just feel weird about the whole thing, but the one thing that has brought me a little comfort is knowing that I need to put my pride aside and say that God knows all things, he knows why this is happening, he knows it all. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8). For me to think that I could understand God's way, would be to say that I am on the same level of a God, and let's be honest, that would be straight up blasphemous. So, I don't know why this is happening, but I need to have faith that it will all work out. I haven't stopped hoping that Prop 8 will fail, but I couldn't do that even if I tried and lied to myself- because God would still know my thoughts. When I see all these celebrities contributing to the No on Prop 8 campaign, I feel excited deep down. I can't help it, and somehow I don't think God will blame me for wanting equal rights for all, especially on an issue about love. But, I concede that I cannot criticize my leaders, because they probably don't want to be in this tough spot either -they probably don't want to be criticized by others for these efforts, but it is for a purpose that I don't know.

I hope his makes sense.

9 comments:

Janae said...

Well you can't bring up an issue like this and not expect some responses, huh? :) I knew you'd post on this eventually.

I'm personally frustrated by the whole thing. I don't live in California, and I registered to vote in Utah, so I've got no say.

However.

I think changing the name of proposition 8 to "eliminating rights of same-sex couples to marry," is completely unfair and inaccurate. I looked at the rights that a domestic partnership has in California--in other words, a couple that is unified through the government, male-male, female-female, or male-female. As of last year, they have all the same rights that a "married" couple does.

Now, to me, the proposition isn't taking anything away from homosexual couples except for the name "marriage." It seems to me like just one more thing to cry about. Nothing that they already have is getting taken away.

I DO believe marriage is a term defined religiously--sanctified--and between a man and a woman. It seems to me that this whole thing they're fighting for is "eliminating the rights of straight couples to call their relationship a marriage."

Bringing up the separation of church and state is a tough issue. If there really IS a separation of church and state, we need to change the pledge of allegiance, we need to change our money... We need to change everything.

So for now, my stance is that I just don't understand what it is that they're complaining about--they just want "the name." And I, as a religious person with respect for the institution of marriage, do not want them to have the name. It's not a marriage, it's a union. Civil rights aren't being taken away from them--if they were, I might have a problem, too!

As for all of the pro-8 propaganda about teaching children about homosexual union in schools, and churches being sued for not teaching same sex marriage, etc... That's all BS. I never got taught about parenthood or families in schools, so I just don't think it has much of a place in the educational system anyway.

I do believe people are born with the challenge of being homosexual. I do believe in being kind and empathetic for those people. I do not believe that loving them and being kind to them means condoning or tolerating their lifestyle. My brother drinks alcohol and smokes and fornicates. I love him, but I don't love his lifestyle. Just because people have certain challenges doesn't make their giving into them right.

In any case, I respect your stance. These are just my thoughts on the matter. Come what may, you are right, God has perspective on all of these things. We'll figure it out.

Tiffany said...

Abby – I don’t know if you knew this and you probably did, but Arizona residents, such as myself, also get to vote on this issue -proposition 102.

Like you said, the church doesn’t always take a strong stance on the political issues, but for this upcoming election they have.

In our ward, our bishop read a letter from the 1st presidency on how important it is for us AZ voters to educate ourselves about the election and the propositions because we, as a church, need to be unified in protecting the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

It says in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that, “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

This isn’t new information and has been around for years and I don’t think it is entirely fair that we as church members need to defend marriage.

In General Conference this month, marriage between a man and a woman was mentioned a couple of times. Recently, the church has also come out with some more information to support the Proclamation. Here is a link to better understand the churches views on marriage:

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

I totally understand your feelings when it comes to standing up for what is right and to protect everyone’s right, but I don’t think that it is right to redifine the definition of marriage, according to our churches standards, just to accommodate people who aren't happy with what has been taught to us.

We as members of The Church need to be unified together and protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

Taunalee said...

Abby, I'm just curious- do you really believe that our Heavenly Father would create someone like that? That they are really born gay? I don't think so. "God created man in his own image."

Taunalee said...

By the way, I do respect you for wanting everyone to have the same rights. It shows that you are an amazingly loving and accepting person. I just have to say that I don't really agree with you on this one.

The Clarks said...

Well Taunalee, he did - and does - create people with no legs, or who can't hear, or have an inescapable tendency towards violence. Some people die at birth and miss out on mortal life altogether. To presume to know without a doubt that this doesn't happen is a little on the close-minded side. That said, I'd have to agree with Janae on this. Give couples tax breaks, give them rights, but it seems to me that just the term 'marriage' is a rather petty thing to lobby about, like kids stamping their feet over who gets to be called the 'boss' in their playground game. Also, homosexuality has been seriously socially taboo (at least on the Jewish side of things, not so much Greek and Roman, they were good buddies ;-) ) for the last three or four thousand years. I mean you'd be stoned on the spot. Not that I agree with that, but religious resolves aside, maybe culture and the common good would dictate homosexuality is best practiced privately... as are all sexual activities. In the end, God will set things right, according to our own knowledge and shortcomings.

Thank heavens I don't have to...

- Steve

Rin said...

I'm definitely frustrated that the church is taking a stand on this. I have always been weary of any authority telling someone how to think or vote instead of letting a person make a educated decision based on their own conscience.

Abby Q. said...

Even still, with everyone's comments, I am yet unmoved, because I can't justify it with my conscience, even though some people (as is demonstrated) can. I don't think everyone will feel the same way I do, and that is justifiably so, and I applaud those who feel differently and stand up for their beliefs, just like I need to with mine. I hate being considered this crazy liberal simply because of how I have ALWAYS felt, and anyone who knows me, knows that generally I like to stay out of the limelight, but I don't feel like I should on this, and of course, that is my opinion.

HOWEVER, while I could argue around and around in circles with everyone about the problems of having God on our money and in the pledge of allegiance (religion is the reason Mitt Romney's party didn't embrace him enough to get him very far, it always does cause problems when mixed with politics), and the problem with taking a religious standpoint in politics (because most Americans are religious, but what religion, and what God do they believe in? And what about the atheists? And the only righteous theocracy is one ruled by Christ himself, which is not synonymous with Bush), while I could do this, that was NOT what my post was about.

It was about my process of dealing with an issue that I find personally difficult, and explaining my struggles with it, and my eventual rediscovery of how I should behave towards it.

Gladly no one's feelings or thoughts are going to change how I feel, and again, if I wanted to spend my time debating, I could - the only thing anyone has to stand on is religion but once it's taken out of the equation as SHOULD happen, there's nothing to argue. But, for a religion that believed in marrying multiple women, and believes it will one day be practiced in heaven, it's a little ironic that we're fighting someone else's alternative style of marriage.

And Taunalee, there are a lot of things you will learn about people, one of them is that they don't choose to be gay, at least not 95% of them. This woman, Carolyn Ball, who is mormon, can testify to that http://ldshomosexuality.com/?cat=8, and a very prominent professor of Biology at BYU recently showed his findings that homosexuality is found in chemical levels in the brain, which are pronounced BEFORE birth. Oh and if you're willing to visit that website, check out my good friend's story as well: http://ldshomosexuality.com/?cat=16.

Again, this likely isn't going to change anyone's mind, and I am not trying to change anyone's mind at that, which is why I won't be responding after this post. But, I did want to clarify the point of this post, and the reason I rambled for so long is a) I ramble, and b) I wanted to give a preface of the thought that I went through to come to my difficulty.

Thanks for reading!

abbyc85 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CC said...

It's a sticky situation. I agree that the term "marriage" should be applied to man and woman only. But I'm fine with gay couple having the right to get a civil union. I do believe that in some cases, people do choose to be attracted to the same sex, but also there are people who were born that way. There has been scientific research that supports that some people are born with a stronger tendency to be homosexual. When it all comes down to it, we should just love everyone no matter what their beliefs. One thing we should definitely remember is that we do believe in a separation of church and state, and us LDS people also believe in allowing everyone to worship "how, where or what they may". I don't think the church should ever make it ok for same-sex couples to get married (and I don't think they ever will), but as far as the government goes, I don't think it's that big of a deal. It seems like we get confused between "civil unions" and "marriage" which are completely different things.