The Church’s recent statement on the proposed federal marriage amendment has spurred threads at M* and a lengthy one (well over 300 posts at the time of this writing) at T&S. A lot of this discussion has focused on the politics of the proposal and the legalities of federalizing the definition of marriage.
I was going to express these thoughts in the T&S thread, but I can’t access it right now, so I thought I would just go ahead and post them here. My basic point is that I favor gay marriage, and I wish the Church wouldn’t try so hard to prevent it.
I am by no means an activist on this subject. I don’t even know that many openly gay people. Nevertheless, that is my feeling.
My rationale is based on the following:
1. Polygamy. I am a fifth generation Mormon descended from polygamist ancestors. But for polygamy, I would not exist. I just came from the Casper MHA meetings. Near there, my GGG Grandfather, Thomas Grover, a polygamist, who had been a part of the 1847 pioneer company, operated a ferry to help travellers cross the river. I have tremendous respect for the lives and sacrifices of him and the many other polygamist Saints, and as I read the history of those times I cannot help but relate to the Mormon side of things and against the federal government that fought them to the very brink of extinction over this issue.
I realize that polygamy was an affront to the morals of western society. It seems as though good Christians should have been able to step outside themselves and see that the practice, no matter how offensive to them personally, was grounded in biblical restorationism, and that those who were living it were doing so in good faith. But very few people had the capacity to see things in that light.
It strikes me as ironic that we battled for so long and for so hard to get people to leave us alone and let us practice our religion in peace. And yet, when those who are similarly misunderstood today need a little bit of understanding, we are unwilling to step outside of ourselves and see things from their perspective. How soon we forget.
2. I still can’t figure out how gay marriage is supposed to endanger hetero marriage and the traditional family. I hear that rhetoric all the time, but I just don’t see it.
3. Although the etiology of homosexuality is complex and not fully understood, it is clear to me that in most cases it is not a consciously made choice. And I am unwilling to condemn someone who finds him or herself in a position not of his or her conscious choosing. That just wouldn’t be right.
4. I am a very empathetic person. I get it from my mother. And I am heavily influenced by the thought experiment where you pretend you live in a world where gay relationships are normative and hetero relationships are aberrant. I would know that I didn’t consciously choose to be hetero; I just am. I would know that no amount of therapy could make me gay; I would always desire women sexually, not men. And I would understand the pain and injustice of having to try to live a life without sexual intimacy with another human being. I simply would be unable to do that. (For this reason, if I were gay I would leave the Church. There’s no way I could live a celibate life, and I know myself well enough to know that.)
5. I think we should be encouraging committed, faithful relationships rather than bath house hedonism. If a marriage covenant is a good thing for a man and a woman, why is it a bad thing for a man and a man (or woman and a woman)? Do we really think gay people aren’t going to have sex? If they are going to have sex anyway, isn’t it in society’s interest to encourage responsible sexual behavior in a committed relationship? It seems like encouraging marriage ought to be the conservative perspective, rather than the liberal one.