The Conversation We Heard

This post was submitted by MikeInWeHo, a longtime Bloggernacle participant and friend of BCC.

Since Judge Shelby’s decision, I’ve seen discussions about the history of traditionalists’ agenda against gays, suggesting that traditionalists were never anything except compassionate and nice to gays. I read it and thought, “Have I been living on another planet?” No, but there are two conflicting narratives. It’s very different from the conservation I remember:

Traditionalists in the 60s:Homosexuals are criminal predators who recruit our children, which is why homosexuality is a crime. We must close the places they gather and jail them if they refuse psychiatric treatment for their mental illness.”

Gays in the 60s: “We are not criminals, and not mentally ill. We will fight back.”

Traditionalists in the 70s: “We will leave you alone if you remain invisible in society, and we will maintain laws making homosexuality a crime to make sure you do.”
Gays and a few friends in the 70s: “Sodomy laws ruin people’s lives. We will work to get them overturned. We will come out of the closet.”

Traditionalists in the 80s:We were right all along. AIDS is God’s judgment on homosexuals.”
Gays and new allies in the 80s: “Gay men in our cities are being devastated by a plague. We will work with lesbians and our friends to take care of each other.”

Traditionalists in the 90s: “We will fight against civil unions. We will keep gays out of the military. But we don’t believe in discrimination. My wife loves her gay hairdresser, and I even had lunch with a gay guy at work one time.”
Society in the 90s: “These laws make no sense. We have gay friends and there is no reason they should be discriminated against. This seems like bigotry, and we have seen it before.”

Traditionalists in the early 2000s: “We concede that gays should have some rights, uh, kinda. We’ll agree to let them sign contracts and visit each other in the hospital when they get sick, because we are compassionate. By the way: They want to get married and if they do society will end!!!”
Society in the early 2000s: “We’re not so sure about gay marriage but the rest of what you’re saying sounds very wrong. Why are you still fighting civil unions? We will protect our gay family members and friends.”
Gays and friends in the early 2000s: “Gay marriage exists in quite a few countries now, and nothing bad has happened. We have families and children too, and we want full equality in the eyes of the law.”

Traditionalists in 2013: “We are being persecuted for our religious beliefs!”
Society in 2013: “No, you aren’t. Nobody is forcing your churches to change their doctrines or practices. By the way, you have treated gay people badly for a long time and we don’t want to go to your churches anymore unless you stop. We love our gay family members and we are moving on.”


  1. Yeah I never got the collective amnesia that exists amongst so-called traditionalists. My dear Godfather died of AIDS when it was still called GRID. I was only 6 years old, but I still remember all of the horrible things people said about him and thought about him. He was an amazing human being and I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t love him. Then I found out it was merely because of who he loved. These same people would claim today that they never had any ill-will and never unleashed their vile tongues. But I remember.

  2. Hugs, EOR.

  3. It’s not amnesia so much as “traditionalists,” just like gays, don’t think in a block. Which is why this sort of thing is a pat-on-the-back, but not any more significant than that.

  4. Thanks for writing this. I saw this approach somewhere else and thought about leaving a comment there, but as SilverRain says, it was intended there as an affirmation of the in-group. Still, it is better to counter bad ideas with good ideas instead of with silence. Somewhere between Matthew Shepard and the hundreds of teenagers who have committed suicide over their orientations, one would hope that we could all agree that neither traditionalists nor LGBT persons always have only loving intentions.

  5. Painting all traditional marriage proponents alike seems a lot like painting all gay men alike. The equivalent would be finding an example of a gay pedophile or even a few examples and arguing that gays are a menace to young boys, much like the sick Inglewood video. Both arguments are unfair and unproductive. This kind of amped up hate speech is unbecoming of BCC.

  6. Amped up hate speech is our specialty, O trollish one.

  7. MikeInWeHo says:

    Just to clarify: I don’t mean to imply that all contemporary traditionalists assert all the views of those who preceded them. Clearly most conservatives no longer believe gays should be jailed, for example (although there is very trouble evidence coming out of Uganda that some American conservatives still do, when given a chance). The purpose of my post is to describe the narrative on the topic of homosexuality that has evolved over the past half-century. It is not my intent to malign people who oppose SSM. I am just trying to put things in historical context.

  8. Mostimportantly says:

    I learned in fifth Sunday this week that a great many people in my ward still carry the traditionalist of the 60’s view, and only one person was brave enough to contradict it. I was quite devastated by what I heard. I have never felt so close to leaving….

  9. Mike, when I was in was trained on methods of teaching students how to write an argumentative essay, one instructor taught us about “weasel words.” A perfect example is the explanation you gave above. The mantra was “do them early in the essay so the reader then cannot dismiss it as overgeneralization or “I knew people who were not like that.”

    The point was driven home at the start of the presentation by having one half of us read an essay with “weasel words” and one half without them then asking us to give a grade. The grades were different by more than one (A versus B-) in favor of the former example.

  10. Guys, Mike doesn’t need “helpful” writer tips from our readers. Read the post as it was obviously intended, and get back to us if and when you have anything useful to say about the substance of it.

  11. Chris Kimball says:

    At the risk of sounding like another writer tip, I would like to pitch in the observation that traditionalists in my hearing have tried hard to believe (to tell themselves) that their position was not about people but about a principle or a category. Comments are carefully couched in impersonal terms–we don’t like homosexuality, we can’t tolerate gay marriage or gay lifestyle, and the classic “hate the sin, not the sinner”. Gay men and women coming out and speaking up have made this impersonal approach increasingly difficult to maintain. It has the effect of saying “you are talking about me, I’m a real living breathing person, and you are attacking me”.

  12. “By the way, you have treated gay people badly for a long time and we don’t want to go to your churches anymore unless you stop. We love our gay family members and we are moving on.”

    Just want to point out that liberal churches that ordain gays and solemnize same-sex unions (since I assume from your post that same-sex sealings are the next reasonable step–you can just say it) have much lower growth rates (and higher apostasy rates into complete irreligiosity) than conservative churches. Which isn’t to say that one causes the other, it’s just to say that the narrative of the youth leaving conservative denominations to switch over to liberal denominations en masse as society as a whole liberalizes just isn’t supported by the evidence.

    This is independent from the ethics of the matter, but the “change or else” arguments are often snuck into without any real data to back it up.


  13. Is there anyone who seriously disagrees with the generalized depictions in this post? I’m old enough to have personal memories of every decade described, and those memories, for the most part and as generalizations, are consistent with Mike’s.

    No matter how someone feels about any issue involved in human sexuality, it is the height of selective memory for conservative Christians to complain about persecution and discrimination in this area – or to claim that homosexuals started a war on them in any way. There simply is no logical way to make either of those arguments, and I very rarely make such absolute statements.

  14. Also, if I (a heterosexual Mormon raised in Salt Lake and Utah Counties) heard the heterosexual side of this conversation almost exactly as Mike describes it, who am I to question the side Mike heard? Are we really challenging something written by a gay man titled “The Conversation *We* Heard” when, in most cases, (the other) “we” wasn’t in any position for most of that time to actually hear the side of the conversation Mike heard?

  15. Ray, to be clear, I hate the Church’s message during Prop 8. I think the commercials that the Church helped finance through the members were terrible. I have no excuses for them, but I also watched the mobs storm the temple after Prop 8 passed. I watched signs being ripped out of Prop 8 supporters’ hands. I watched an old woman get mobbed by an angry crowd. I watched careers destroyed, jobs lost, and businesses destroyed because people voted or financed their conscience for traditional marriage an issue about which people have legitimate differences of opinion, many fueled by their reading of scripture and what their church leaders tell them. I think you can make an honest argument that Mormons and other Christians came under physical and financial attack because of their religious beliefs.
    The Church started the fight, but its fight wasn’t violent. Some, not all, of the response was.
    There is blame to share on both sides.

  16. Pat, do you seriously believe that “the fight wasn’t violent” for most of the years Mike mentions in this post? Do you seriously believe homosexuals didn’t “(come) under physical and financial attack” by heterosexuals?

    If someone is beaten repeatedly over time (for many years), and that person receives a particularly ugly beating (like Prop. 8), do you really think they are to blame for lashing out? If conservative Christians who preach Jesus passionately aren’t able to turn the other cheek when they get slapped a little bit, are you really blaming the people they’ve been beating for a very, very long time for not continuing to turn their cheeks now that they aren’t tied to whipping post anymore?

    I don’t like the ugliness that occurred after Prop 8, and, I guarantee you, neither does Mike – but I can’t blame anyone for the pot boiling over in a situation like that. It’s not like it came anywhere close to balancing out the historical ledger – not even for one gay person who was killed out of real homophobia, much less for the totality of what we have done (and, unfortunately, continue to do) to so many of our spiritual brothers and sisters.

  17. Ray, actually, I agree with much of that. The fight against homosexuals was at times both violent and financial. Still is. I took issue with a statement that Christians can’t construct a logical argument that some have been persecuted because of their religious beliefs in connection with the gay marriage debate. They have been. Both sides have persecuted and been persecuted. What I reject is the binary choice of either or.

  18. Latter-day Guy says:

    The Church started the fight, but its fight wasn’t violent.

    I think this isn’t quite correct. “The fight” has been going on for AGES. Long before Prop 8 anyway. The response to Prop 8 didn’t occur in a vacuum. You fail to take into account many decades of physical assault, lost jobs, ruined careers, shattered lives, etc., fueled by even the rumor that an individual might be gay. Prop 8 was merely one recent front in a very, very long conflict. It’s all very well to suggest that people can “have legitimate differences of opinion,” but let’s not be silly enough to pretend that the Prop 8 fallout even came close to balancing the scales of hostility. That isn’t to condone violence from anybody, of course, but while the LDS Church didn’t start the fight, they joined in on a side that has gladly used violence and lies as part of the MO.

  19. Latter-day Guy says:

    Ray, said most of what I meant. Missed reading it before I wrote.

  20. MoHoHawaii says:

    I’ve lived through each of the eras that Mike describes in the OP. I don’t think that I could have come up with a more accurate recap of the evolution of this particular societal conversation.

    In the Mormon context, Carol Lynn Pearson has this to say:

    When we Mormons are able some decades hence to get a better vision of our own history, there will be a very long list of things we will be deeply proud of, and I can make that list as well as anyone. There will also be a list of things we are not proud of.

    “We will always be uncomfortable with the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

    “We will always be uncomfortable with polygamy.

    “We will always be uncomfortable with our history with racism.

    “We will be uncomfortable, I believe, with the fact that at a period of time when we could have taken a leadership role in what we conveniently called ‘women’s issues,’ such as bringing back the concept of God the Mother, we instead chose to actively work against it.

    “But I believe our greatest shame will be reserved for how we have treated our gay brothers and sisters in these last few decades.

    “I do not know of any black man who took his life because he was not allowed ordination to the priesthood in our church.

    “Neither I nor any of my feminist friends have taken our lives over our church working against issues that were and are deeply important to us.

    “However hundreds–and I do mean hundreds–of our best and brightest LDS gay men–some women but mostly men–have taken their lives because we have made them feel so helpless and hopeless, and when we truly get a bead on that our shame will be enormous.”

    I’m hopeful that our past will not be our future when it comes to this issue. Remembering how it was gives us the perspective we need to move forward.

  21. Thanks for the clarification, Pat – seriously. I appreciate it. Given what you just said, I think you might have misunderstood what I said in that comment.

    You said:

    “I took issue with a statement that Christians can’t construct a logical argument that some have been persecuted because of their religious beliefs in connection with the gay marriage debate.”

    That’s not what I said. My exact quote was:

    “it is the height of selective memory for conservative Christians to complain about persecution and discrimination in this area – or to claim that homosexuals started a war on them in any way.”

    The first point simply was that it takes incredible selective memory for conservative Christians to complain about persecution and discrimination in their interactions with homosexuals; the second point was that homosexuals absolutely did not start a war on conservative Christians in any way, and it takes incredible selective memory to make that claim.

    I try really hard to see both sides of every discussion and, wherever possible, recognize the validity of each argument to any degree it exists – but I just can’t see any logic in the idea that conservative Christians have suffered any unique persecution and discrimination in this case or that homosexuals started any fight with them. I just can’t see it, and it takes selective memory to make either of those claims.

  22. Ray, I did not drag Matt Shepard to death. You (and Mike) seem to be implying a linear continuity in the gay rights movement, as if those of us who think marriage is fundamentally between a man and a woman are somehow part and parcel with chemical castraters. Such a simplistic narrative might make a nice a entertaining hagiography, but ultimately it’s not very informative.

    A more accurate history would openly acknowledge that the issue of the definition of marriage is more complicated, with even Harvey Milk thinking at least at times that gays should try to form their own, less monogamous institutions (, it’s only fairly recently that we’ve been inundated with the tableaus of the clean cut, collared shirted (dare I say Mormon-looking) men holding hands. I’m not saying that one is more accurate than the other, just that this article is interpreting the whole movement through a very 2014 prism, and is making absolutely no attempt to contextualize things. Again, have fun with your polemic, maybe it’ll be cathartic for you, but I’m going to go read a book.

  23. Now, having said that, I actually do understand why many conservative Christians feel like any persecution or discrimination they face now is unique – and it actually is a logical explanation I can accept, so I guess I was wrong to speak so comprehensively.

    Heterosexual, American Christians have no substantial experience being persecuted or discriminated against, so, for them, the relatively tiny amount they feel now is unique and new.

    Their reaction to it (the fact that it hurts so much) ought to deliver a Zen slap and make them realize, just a little bit, what their homosexual siblings have been feeling at their hands much more intensely for a very long time.

  24. No, Kant66, nobody here is implying that. Period. I hope you enjoy your book.

  25. Here is the problem. For half a century or more, same sex attracted people have had to hide their “uniqueness” from others at the risk of being ostracized or even worse. Only relatively recently has “coming out” been feasible, sufficient support being available for some. Now the Church has decided to allow same sex attracted young men to be members of Church sponsored Boy Scout troops, while many other churches have vowed to cease sponsoring troops. This is a change. More change will follow. The question is will we members of the Church provide sufficient support for same sex attracted members that they can feel welcome in our midst? So far, in very few cases have we done so. The change needed to follow is a change in our hearts. We heterosexual members are the problem. Now we need to change.

  26. Steve Evans says:

    Ray, thanks for your help but the ark doesn’t need steadying quite yet. Just relax, man.

  27. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks MikeInWeHo for this and for your participation in the bloggernacle and elsewhere though the years. I’m sixty-five now, and looking back, I wish I’d have stood up more strongly against what I knew was wrong. I hope to do better. All I can say is how proud I am of those who have stood up and are standing up so strongly against what they knew was and know is wrong. It shouldn’t have to be scapegoats who revolt, but it often is them leading the way. Who can blame a scapegoat for going a little crazy if they are at rare moments given the chance when all they’ve ever faced is a march imposed by the broader culture to death and defeat? We should all acknowledge our own sins and weaknesses and repent.

  28. MoHoHawaii quotes from Carol Lynn Pearson her position of the problem we LDS have with accepting gay members. MoHo concludes:

    “I’m hopeful that our past will not be our future when it comes to this issue. Remembering how it was gives us the perspective we need to move forward.”

    I join together with MoHoHawaii and Sister Pearson in hoping that we heterosexual LDS will learn to change our views on those members like Sister Pearson’s husband. As she points out, we have changed before.

    And the rest of you ignore us! Mark my words. “We will not be ignored! I pray that God will help you to see the light. But first, you will have to ask for His help.”

  29. Can anyone provide some video footage or news articles relating to comment’s such as Pat’s: “but I also watched the mobs storm the temple after Prop 8 passed”. I’ve heard statements like this several times, but all I’ve been able to come across is:
    – a picketing of the SLC temple and some candlelight vigils
    – reference to about 10 church buildings being vandalized (grafitti, broken windows, burning BoM left on the doorstep)
    – an anthrax hoax sent to the SLC temple

    As someone that doesn’t live in California or SLC, I hear a lot of hyperbole about the after-math of Prop 8, but am curious how accurate it is.

  30. Enna, I was in Arizona at the time. As I recall, your summation is both complete and correct. Apparently in SLC a few picketers constitute a mob storming the Temple. There are so many “religious” people from so many denominations who are against same sex marriage that Prop 8 was popular and no one could or even thought to raise up a mob for demonstration purposes. We couch our disapproval and rejection, perhaps even hatred, of LGBTs behind our glowing smiles. Where Christ and the Brethren teach, even admonish us to love our neighbors, where we reject our fellow LGBT member neighbors saying all sorts of bad things against them, it is they who get the opportunity to show their love toward us,

  31. MikeInWeHo says:

    Enna: Good question. I was right here at the epicenter of the Prop 8 aftermath. No mobs stormed the temple. There was a protest outside the gates. This is what it looked like:

    It’s simply untrue that a wave of persecution has been unleashed against conservative religious people, who seem to equate society rejecting their views with oppression. There is no religious persecution in America, and we should all thank God for that.

  32. Peter LLC says:

    Can anyone provide some video footage or news articles relating to comment’s such as Pat’s: “but I also watched the mobs storm the temple after Prop 8 passed”.

    Pat is probably referring to the LA temple. See here for news coverage and here for video and the always enlightening comments (language warning).

    Obviously mobs didn’t “storm” the temple, but it was certainly an “emotionally charged” time for people on both sides of the issue.

  33. Thanks Mike In We Ho, whenever I see your name I pay attention!

    Sometimes after reading the comments here, I wonder if I’m the only one that attends church on a regular basis. I sit, especially lately, sacrament meeting after gospel doctrines after elder’s quorum where gays and their uppity quest for marriage, liberalism, feminism, science, intellectualism; yea, the veritable jukebox of Fox News talking points goes said week after week posing a grave and apocalyptic threat to yonder Christmas and religious freedom and yet another checked box of the depravity of man only to be remedied and overcome by the rapturous, glorious return of the Red Robed Law Giver. With these walls comes the shaking heads, the tsk tsk’s, and even more insidious expressions of definition, defining narrowly certain behaviors that express hatred towards God, and will bring the fall of mankind, death and destruction, which destruction ushers to the groans of pleasure by the faithful, the rapturous blood and horror that is the end time (and something even more sought after, an orgasmic affirmation of a worldview that was always, in honest and secret reflection, held in a certain amount of doubt). Our LDS young hear and internalize these messages, especially our GLBT sons and daughters as a certain grim Utah statistic affirms.

    Mike presents an honest summation of the painfully slow evolution of disadvantaged thinking that religion perpetuates. The best ideas and greatest dynamic paths for the truth of our reality exists where ideas can be questioned, falsified, tested, peer reviewed. Religion puts away from us these self correcting measures and nurtures our natural propensity to delude ourselves in the name of authoritative decree, throwing off the responsibility and accountability of bad ideas. Our church has had its share of bad ideas and will, like any other church no matter how inspired they want to think they are, will continue to perpetuate bad ideas as Uchtdorf has affirmed. Our current attitudes towards the civil and secular marriages of our GLBT brothers and sisters is one of those bad ideas and takes the low moral road by denying families civil protections and due process, let alone the next cultural regret some 25 years from now.

    2013 Society as Mike articulated is saying we are not going to take it anymore. This goes a long way explaining trends in humans leaving organized religious affiliations, and the mass hemorrhaging of western educated affluent LDS members away from our church, and is why even our church will demonstrate empirically that evolution is a must for survival in the face of cultural natural selection that demonstrably shows organizationally the form of Joseph’s church, and the form of Monson’s church, to be as diverse as the wolf and chihuahua. What’s next? The church will have to mature past its obsessive bedroom voyeurism and not high center on the sex act in all its banality as there is virtually no difference between hetero and homo antics in the bedroom. When Mike posts in 2020, the consensus must be that the church has accepted same sex marriage and values the participants therein including the chaste expressions of a fidelitous
    relationship with full fellowship. Then and only then can we evolve with the church releasing yet another superficial essay putting its gawdy overly red lipstick of justified explanation on the pig of hopefully moved beyond bad cultural attitudes.

  34. Christian J says:

    Mike, I appreciate the few examples you posted. This is more than a perspective. This is documented history of the way society has evolved on this issue. And the Church has evolved right along with it. (in our own way) In the not so far back 90’s I was subjected to the BKP pamphlet, which led my Teacher’s Quorum adviser to suggest that violence may be required of us as we protect ourselves from homosexuals. 1993 to be exact.

  35. “There is no religious persecution in America…”

    I disagree with this statement in its totality. There is plenty of religious persecution in American. It’s just that it’s usually aimed at unpopular religious minorities, and not religious majorities.

    Rude Dog–sounds like you live in the same kind of ward I do. It’s tough when the extent of political diversity in a ward is limited to solid Republican/conservative and those even further to the political right. I’m struggling right now as the only liberals in our ward moved out a few months ago, there are no moderates or liberals left except me, and our bishop thinks it’s okay to play Glenn Beck for the last class in the 3-hour-block. Stay strong. Maybe there are some closet moderates/liberals in your ward enduring the same thing you are.

  36. Thanks Dale, Mike, and Peter. That was very informative. I love a good protest (free speech!) so that seemed pretty benign as far as throwing out labels like “persecution” but I can understand that no one likes to be shouted at or called names, especially all of us non-confrontational/stay-sweet/hate-the-F-bomb Mormons.

  37. Christian J says:

    Anon13, there were examples of Mormons being fired from their jobs once it became known that they donated to Prop8. And I think that’s really unfortunate. BUT, the last person who should be complaining about that is an economic conservative, who thinks business owners should be mostly unregulated when it comes to hiring/firing practices. And, of course I don’t blame a gay individual for not feeling sorry for us, when you consider the societal view of homosexuals over the years.

  38. If we have been guilty in the past for trusting too much in the world’s culture of our respective times, we ought to repent of those sins. But the answer is not to turn and cling to the whims and wisdom of the arm of flesh today, for the wisdom of man is ultimately foolishness. Past sins do not justify turning from God, from the law and testimony, nor from the prophets, and especially not in favor of the world’s new favorite sins. We will be accountable before God if we knowingly and willfully endorse that which damages the spiritual/eternal progression of others.

  39. Antonio Parr says:

    re: LDS Teachings on Chastity: Respectfully, there is a tendency on the part of at least a few participants on BCC to scoff at scriptural and prophetic edicts on sexual conduct (at least as they relate to homosexual sex) as if they are antiquated fables that have no foundation whatsoever in truth. For those who believe that the LDS Church is simply wrong to condemn homosexual sex, it is not clear to me if you believe that the appropriate next step is to have the Church bless and celebrate homosexual sex to the same extent that it blesses and celebrates heterosexual sex, albeit with the caveat that both expressions must take place in a “legal and lawful” marriage, or whether you would have a doctrinal carve out for homosexual sex when it comes to the marriage requirement, or whether you would have the Church toss out the marriage requirement altogether for either sexual orientations.
    re: Heterosexual vs. Homosexual Sex: One has the potential to create new life, the other doesn’t. This is a qualitative difference in the two forms of physical expression, and seems like a relevant consideration for those who would argue that homosexual sex is morally indistinguishable from heterosexual sex.
    re: What an emotional issue! To be sure, most, if not all of us, have loved ones in our lives who are gay and we rightfully feel protective of them and their feelings and their safety and their emotional well being. However, and with respect, this support that Latter-Day Saints should feel for gay friends and family does not necessarily need to extend to a celebration of the consummation of same gender sexual desires, and the gravity associated with LDS teachings on chastity is something that practicing Latter-Day Saints might justifiably be slow to mock or condemn.

  40. so it looks like the enlightened movement within the church is all gay all the time if the proportion of gay posts means anything.. and no, I’m not a h8er and this is not a h8 statement, just an observation that perhaps post topics are a little out of balance as of late.

  41. European Saint says:

    “Ray, thanks for your help but the ark doesn’t need steadying quite yet. Just relax, man.”
    All is well in Zion. Zion prospereth. Anyone who says otherwise is just fear-mongering, right?

  42. Antonio Parr says:

    re: the State of Zion: Rumors of the Church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Although not perfect, the Church is a place of daily miracles and breathtaking acts of compassion and service by the rank and file. Christians are either heroes or pigs, and Mormonism, with its lay clergy and enlightened baptismal covenant, compels those of us who are inclined to act like swine to step up and strive to be like our Savior, reaching out with works of love to those who God places in our paths. I love it, warts and all.

  43. MikeInWeHo says:

    “There is no religious persecution in America…”

    Anon3: I probably should have worded my comment differently. There are plenty plenty of times when discrimination and even crimes are committed against religious people, especially religious minorities as you point out. Thankfully, laws are in place nationwide that address this problem. If a Mormon was fired from their job because they supported Prop 8, that was an illegal act and hopefully the employer was penalized.

    What I meant to say: There is no systemic, legal persecution of religious people in America. Current claims of “religious persecution” are coming from people who don’t like the fact that in many places businesses cannot discriminate against gay customers anymore. One current example is the Christian-owned bakery that refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, and was fined for violating a state ordinance. Calling that a case of religious persecution is simply bogus. If anything, these cries of religious persecution from homophobic business owners underscore the need for such non-discrimination laws in the first place.

  44. Antonio Parr says:

    MikeInWeHo: Forcing individuals to cater to events that violate deeply held religious beliefs is not “bogus”, and is far more nuanced a legal issue than your dismissive words give it credit. Moreover, is someone who calls all conservative religious people who don’t believe in same sex marriage “homophobic” beset with a phobia against conservative religious people?

    The name calling does nothing to further good faith dialogue.

  45. Antonio,

    Thanks for the points.

    We may look towards scriptural reference for guidance towards sexual relations in the homosexual context. Usually we find peppered around the condemnation of homosexual sex the condemnation of eating shell fish, and the wearing of linen and cotton together, easily interpreting them all with the same gravity of being abominable. So please forgive us when we interpret our teachings and application towards homosexual sex based on scripture as cafeteria style Mormonism and our leaders have already told us about the poverty associated with such a philosophy. There was a time during the Spencer W. Kimball administration when the First Presidency sent out a directive to be read from the pulpit declaring oral sex as, how did they poetically put it, “an abhorrent connubial practice”. Later it was again entoned “The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice. If a person is engaged in a practice which troubles him enough to ask about it, he should discontinue it.”
    – Official Declaration of the First Presidency of the Church, January 5th, 1982.

    Again, I find that the church no longer emboldens such language, in fact early directives to my wife and I was to make sure our bedroom was full of respect, love and mutual consent. I do not see or hear any prophetic language that condemns individually any sex act. Which if you think about it really is a great step in the spirit of human progression, not the letter of the law, not the grounding of interpretation in the archaic law which was clearly supplanted by the new law, by the new bottles, with new wine, by the Master of the Vineyard Himself? Or are we defined by the minutia of our bedroom behavior? Didn’t the fulfillment in Christ see the law as a vehicle to the development of souls? Isn’t the sex act within a committed relationship just a tiny dynamic within one facet of a multifaceted vehicle called marriage that is instituted for the great development of Christ like individuals? Or our we high centered upon anal sex which is enjoyed more by in sheer numbers by heterosexuals, religious heterosexuals, Mormon heterosexuals. I’m sure at this very moment sitting in a celestial room somewhere in some Temple is a loving heterosexual couple who lovingly engage in such acts, and they are totally feeling the spirit. I won’t even engage the comment about sex for procreation. I think everything indicates that sex as procreative imperative lacking, the bible celebrating sex, and celebrating it as an intimacy, glue bearing act to bind human beings.

    In our glee to chase the fantastic, the tittlating, the sensational of gross sins of human morality we miss the small things of Christ-like behavior, like humility, service, forgiveness, meekness, benevolence, long term commitment to a worthwhile cause. Kinda like when I turn the science channel or the discovery channel on and the programs are not science, not discovery. It’s chasing Bigfoot, UFO’s Psychics and pawn stores. Science is boring. Learning the most important attributes of Christ is boring in its anonymous service and agape loving. There is no better vehicle to learn how to be more like Christ than a marriage. There are many facets that make my marriage strong, sex is just one of many facets that bind me to my wife like superglue, but not anymore than when she forgives me and unconditionally loves me despite gross character flaws, or when I put in 80% on days when she can only do 20%, and vice versa. It would be juvenile to discuss the sex act, but if you must know, our greatest sex act we perpetuate between the sheets is laughing, and we approach sex with the most important sex organs, the brain.

    Abstinence before marriage, fidelity after marriage is the only coherent, consistent message I’ve rendered from both the scriptures and prophetic utterance. Our GLBT brothers and sisters are worthy to the test, and deserve to be as happy or miserable as we heteros are. Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

  46. jeffc,

    Really? Really? You’re complaining over a tone on a specific thread at a mostly anonymous blog that may be pushing back at the message that is endlessly preached by sometimes unscrupulous actors that we must endure, hour after hour after hour. Really? Your time here is strictly voluntary and you are complaining that the message on this particular thread might not be to your liking and you have the audacity to comment that it’s out of balance? Really?

  47. MikeInWeHo says:

    Antonio: I try not to call people names. This isn’t a nuanced legal issue; in fact it’s crystal-clear. Laws that prevent discrimination in employment and public accommodation based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc, are constitutional and have passed Supreme Court review numerous times. I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that this is not a disputed area of the law.

    The fact is that some people hate these laws and have fought against them every step of the way, because they want to continue discriminating against gay people. In many states and cities, they have lost. If you want to run a catering company in California, you have to serve gay customers equally. To refuse to do so is the essence of homophobia and I have no hesitation in calling it such. If a caterer refused to serve an interracial wedding on religious grounds, there would be no “nuance” needed to consider it racism. It’s exactly the same thing. (I know you probably don’t agree with that, of course, but that’s the problem right?)

    BTW: The VAST majority of conservative religious business owners have no problem obeying these laws. LDS church leadership supports them. It is not a sin for a conservative religious baker to make a cake for a gay wedding. (Am I right on that? Any bishops or stake presidents reading this?)

  48. Antonio Parr says:

    MikeInWeHo: If an evangelical photographer is willing to take family photos of my family and take business photos of me, but declines to take photos of my child’s baptism because they believe that LDS baptisms are a perversion of their understanding of Biblical baptism, and cannot in good conscience celebrate this religious event, then they are not “Mormonphobes”, they are people whose religion places a certain value on certain religious rites and they cannot celebrate/promote an event that violates their sincerely held beliefs. I believe that such a person should be able to decline to be a part of an event that violates their religious beliefs.

    If the caterer is willing to make cake for a homosexual, but declines to make a cake celebrating a homosexual marriage because they believe that gay marriages are a perversion of their understanding of Biblical marriages, and they can’t in good conscience celebrate this event, then they are not “homophobes”, they are people whose religion places a certain value on certain social rites and they cannot celbrate an event that violates their sincerely held beliefs. (If the caterer is unwilling to make a cake for a homosexual under any circumstances, then I would tend to agree that the caterer at that point might meet the definition of a homophobe.)

    Laws are different for business entities that have multiple employees and play a significant role in commerce. As to the sole proprietor caterer or photographer, their ability to survive and make a living should not be dependent upon their participating in events that they find objectionable to their core religious values. Here’s betting that state and federal legislatures, and ultimately the Supreme Court, agree with me on this limited issue. (Here’s betting also that the ability of homosexuals to marry becomes the law of the land within the next two years.)

  49. Antonio Parr says:

    Rude Dog:

    Nothing that you write refutes the unique value that heterosexual sex brings to society, and the non-homophobic reason that a society might have to uniquely promote heterosexual unions. And the Church might be as vulnerable to the whims and fancies of societal norms as you suggest, or it might be the vehicle for expressing the will of God about certain moral issues, the powers of procreation being one of them. We all get to decide with fear and trembling what to believe with respect to the will of God. Not surprisingly, there are a fair number of Latter-Day Saints who afford the leaders of the Church some prayerful deference to their teachings.

  50. Antonio Parr says:

    (I have said all that I can say on the topic, and will withdraw from the dialogue. I try to offer my .02 on BCC discussions on homosexuality because many of those who are most strident in their support of homosexual marriage and homosexual conduct speak of those who take a more conservative approach to chastity as either evil bigots or clueless homophobes. There seems to be a complete rejection of even the possibility of Scriptures or prophets having anything of value to say on the topic. I believe these criticisms are far too harsh, and respectfully suggest that those who see marriage as an inherently heterosexual union are not inherently evil or hateful, and might have something of value to offer on the subject. Best wishes to all for a wonderful 2014!)

  51. lol Rude Dog.. thanks for the laffs.. talk about projections.. sheesh..

  52. It is simply a tribal bias, THEY are not like us. WE are better than THEM! Blacks or gays either way the issues are basically interchangeable. When we look below all the words spoken by all the prophets and softened by later prophets and softened still more by still later prophets it comes down to the biases of men not the commands of God. What did Christ a living demigod have to say about gays? Nothing. So how big of a deal can it possibly be it we have to reach way back to hazily defined Old Testament prohibitions to support our biases?

    Conservative leadership is by definition anti change and pro status quo. Short term this has it’s benefits but long term shows it’s flaws because conservative leadership follows what went before even when what went before was wrong! This leaves the church in a responsive position lagging secular enlightenment.

  53. The points MikeInWeHo and Antonio are discussing are interesting. If an institution, such as a church, rents its chapel to people not of it’s faith for weddings, then you must assume by law it would be required to rent its chapel for gay marriages, the church’s religious beliefs notwithstanding. The LDS church is immune because it does not perform or rent property for marriages. However, it does seem to me that the the logical next step would be to pull the state’s recognition of marriages performed by churches whose definition of marriage do not match the state’s definition. I’m not sure that’s a big deal – one would simply have to be married in court before or after the religious ceremony for the marital status to be legal.

    I find it interesting that same-sex marriages must be non-platonic to be allowed in some areas. I don’t believe that’s true of heterosexual marriages generally, so I believe that requirement, wherever it exists, must eventually also be removed. If that were to happen, then the only people unable to take advantage of marriage laws would be immediate family members (think cohabitating spinster sisters). Seems a little unfair.

  54. MikeInWeHo says:

    Antonio Parr: Please stick around. I want to understand how you view things, and appreciate your respectful and reasonable tone. You may even convince me that small sole-proprietor businesses should have an exemption from non-discrimination laws….!

  55. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “Nobody is forcing your churches to change their doctrines or practices”

    No, but the crux of it is, if LDS traditionalism and Gays and new Allies are going to merge with eternal destinies being equalized for your traditional couple and couples like Spencer and his partner, then the existing doctrine cannot remain the same. If we want our gay brothers, sisters and children to be fully excepted and equal in our theology, then they must be able to obtain the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant or posterity as the ‘sands of the sea.’ That ultimately comes down to the issue of partnered celestial beings being involved in the immortality and eternal life of spirit children and whether gender oppositeness or sameness is relevant in bringing spirit bodies into being. Until the possibility of equal spiritual destinies exist, there will be ongoing pain at only being able to achieve part of all that our Father has to give. And while the apparent joy of Spencer and his partner makes such a change in doctrine seem like a good thing, the shift from the ‘same sociality in heaven’ being as simple as having a Heavenly Father and Mother who’s spiritual procreation was symbolized with a ‘type’ of biological reproduction between oppositely sexed mortal beings is a shift that invokes a bit of grief with the loss of that beautiful simplicity.

  56. Geoff - A says:

    Rigel. I see no reason that won’t happen, so long as we apply the same law of chastity ( being driven by the temple worthy gay couples. I read a treatise on the subject that I thought answered many of the questions.

    This subject becomes even more problematic in parts of the church far away from Utah and in progressive societies. I live in Australia, and in a very conservative ward. Most of the members don’t believe the church’s attitude has changed since the 70s and they are still spouting that hatred, along with that opposing marriage equality. It is also supported on The only place I hear this is at church because many conservative members think the culture is part of the Gospel.

    Surveys show that over 90% of Australians under 40 are happy with marriage equality, which leaves a very small group of extremists, who believe all sorts of unpleasant things as our potential converts.

    Surely if the appeals fail and marriage equality is law in Utah the church will default to “we believe in honouring, obeying, and sustaining the law and it will just drop off the agenda, like so much culture that has interracial marriage, birth control etc.

  57. Antonio,

    Please list the names of “those” on this cite “who are most strident in their support of homosexual marriage and homosexual conduct [and in expressing that support] speak [against] those who take a more conservative approach to chastity [and in doing so are] either evil bigots or clueless homophobes.” I sense that you view yourself as being among “those who take a more conservative approach to chastity.”

    I do not see the need to join with you in condemning heterosexual conduct. That goes without saying! But no comment I have reviewed expresses anything approaching a favorable view of heterosexual conduct. I most certainly do not speak in favor of some sort of liberal sexuality embracing homosexuality. Rather, listening to the voice of the Brethren who state that we LDS abhor gay conduct, but do not condemn those who are merely same sex attracted, I see those who “take a more conservative approach to chastity” typically as making it impossible for the same sex attracted members to “come out” and live a life among us and not feel ostracized. I do not view your group as being “either evil bigots or clueless homophobes.” Rather you appear to be clueless when it comes to understanding the struggles that being same sex attracted becomes in our LDS society. Get a heart, man! It ain’t easy being same sex attracted. And being same sex attracted most certainly is not a choice either.

    Think of it this way. If this were 33 AD and not 2014 AD and we were living in Judea, you and I would be much more likely to find Christ among the sinners who need his support and encouragement than among the Pharisees who only condemn and express hatred to those poor sinners and overlook their personal shortcomings. Get close to Christ. Love thy neighbor!

  58. Isn’t anyone else dying to know what gays in the 90’s said?? Talk about a plot hole….

  59. I believe that homosexuals should enjoy all of the civil liberties that I do and that society should not discriminate against them, that they should have all the freedoms in society that I do, that they should not be subjected to hatred, etc.

    It will likely be many years, if ever, before I am convinced that God approves of homosexual sex.

  60. A great take on one person’s experience. I’m not sure that it should be elevated to “history.” We all experience different things, on different parts of the planet. I have always had non-heterosexual colleagues and neighbors since the 1970s, and they weren’t saying those particular things. Not surprising, as all heterosexuals weren’t saying the same things, either.

  61. When I read the OP, I remembered living through the experiences described there. Even though I experienced them from the perspective of a “traditionalist,” I have to acknowledge the spot on accuracy of the OP. Generally speaking, of course. There are always outliers whose experience doesn’t match the norm, which experience we also acknowledge in its place.

  62. Mike,

    Where are you coming from? No one implies otherwise. The issue is “Do we LDS make our same sex attracted members feel welcome or not? The answer to this question is a clear and definite NO! Should we? Have the Brethren indicated that we ought to? YES, Why is nothing much being done about this discrepancy? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess that we are so seeped up in our distrust of same sex attracted members that the Brethren hesitate to press this issue. Just look at the responses we read when the Church backed the move to admit same sex attracted boys into scout troops.

  63. Someone paying to have their wedding photographed or catered =/= them asking you to celebrate it with them. Photographers/Caterers who are not family and/or friends are not a part of the celebration, they are the hired help.

  64. EQR – That’s a matter of opinion.

  65. Why do I have to continue to read about what people decide to do in their bedrooms? That is the extent to which a super minority should be allowed, and to their own particular freedoms. Let it be, and stop pushing whatever viewpoint you have down my throat. I do not care what they do behind closed doors.

  66. M1ke, how is it a matter of opinion?

    The photographer as co-celebrator scenario is A. Tired, and B. In no way a foregone conclusion. The photographer/baker/what have you _may_ be a part of the celebration, but if they are so vehemently opposed they can opt out of that role (if it was ever even extended to them–which I don’t concede)

    I know at my wedding the caterer was certainly not a part of the money dance, nor was he a participant in any celebratory aspect of the day. He cooked the food, we paid him and ate it.

  67. Morris Thurston does a great examination of these questions. They are old questions and have been dealt with repeatedly.

  68. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I do not care what they do behind closed doors.”
    rask: I couldn’t agree with you more!

    Where in this post are we even discussing that, though? I’m concerned about what people do to other people’s freedoms outside closed doors, based on whatever viewpoint they have.

  69. I think the point isn’t to debate over whether or not someone is justified in how they apply their moral compass to their business conduct, but whether or not they should have the right to make that determination for themselves.

    Telling people that baking a cake, making a website, catering/photographing an event, etc. doesn’t mean they are participating and so they should be legally required to do it is (I’m sorry) completely ridiculous. The point is that they ought to have the freedom to make that decision for themselves.

    If it happens that a legally protected class of people are systematically discriminated against to the point where it makes it impossible to conduct their own business, extreme exceptions may be made and anti-discrimination laws should perhaps be levied. But if that isn’t the case (and you’d have a hard sell to convince me that it IS the case in our modern world) than people should be allowed to make the moral call for their own business conduct. If you can’t fire someone for being openly homosexual, you ought not be able to fire them for being openly religious.

    Additionally, refusing to serve an event is NOT the same thing as refusing to serve a person. That so many people haven’t the ability to distinguish between the two is why many who believe in marriage as a heterosexual union have reason to worry. There ought to be a balance between the individual rights of a person to define themselves by their sexuality and behave accordingly and the individual rights of a person to define themselves by their religion and behave accordingly.

  70. Mark Brown says:

    Silver Rain, just last year, a justice of the peace in Louisiana refused to marry a black man to a white woman because his reading of the bible led him to believe such a union was sinful. In your opinion, is that discriminatory behavior which should be sanctioned, or is he exercising his religions freedoms?

  71. it's a series of tubes says:

    Mark, surely you will concede that state actors (like a justice of the peace) are not the equivalent of private businesses (like a photographer or baker). Principles applicable to one will not be applicable to the other in all instances.

  72. Mark Brown says:

    Sure, I see the difference. So let’s make a hypothetical. Should a florist be able to refuse to provide flowers for an interracial marriage on religious grounds?

  73. A florist should be able to refuse to provide flowers to any event for any reason or for no reason at all.

  74. Mark Brown says:

    If a restaurant accepts a reservation for a wedding breakfast for the Brown/Jones wedding party, should it be allowed to cancel the reservation when it finds out that Brown and Jones are of different races?

  75. Mark, yes, in either case. Where there are sufficient services from other vendors of the same quality and price are available in that area, any business (or one-person business) should be able to turn down business for any reason, even if the reason is something we dislike. In all of the current cases where someone is being sued for not serving a particular event, there are plenty of other vendors who would gladly provide their service.

    Note this was not the case in the Civil Rights era with the whole “seperate but equal” idea being used. In that case, there were no equal services, so this reasoning does not apply.

  76. So, serious question, just to make sure I understand fully:

    Were White Only restaurants okay before laws outlawed them – and were those laws unjust impositions on owners whose objections could be framed as religious or simply attempts to retain freedom of conscience?

  77. To phrase it differently, given Frank’s response:

    Are White Only restaurants acceptable now in areas where non-white citizens can buy meals elsewhere? Does the answer depend on the number of restaurants that serve similar food for similar prices?

  78. One problem with your hypothetical, Ray, is that it doesn’t address my point at all. The other is that it isn’t a real question. “Acceptable” meaning what? Meaning they should be allowed to do it, or that it is okay to do it?

  79. SilverRain, I meant should a restaurant be allowed to refuse service for any reason that is religious or “conscience” driven if similar services are available elsewhere? Sorry. I thought my meaning was obvious.

    I also fail completely to see the distinction between serving an event and serving people. The event is being held by people – the exact same people who would sit in a restaurant to eat or in a photo studio for a portrait. Are you saying it’s okay to refuse to cater a meal for a large event outside one’s central place of business but not okay to refuse to serve a meal to the same people in one’s central place of business?

    Isn’t a caterer’s central place of business pretty much wherever the meals are being served?

    I honestly don’t see the difference between a caterer refusing to serve a gay couple at their wedding and a restaurant owner refusing to serve a gay couple lunch in that restaurant.

  80. Mark Brown says:

    Welcome to the Jim Crow south, y’all.

  81. The difference is that when someone walks into your restaurant and orders food, you are not expected to acknowledge their relationship to each other because the relationship is not the focus of the meal. Even if it’s a date, the food is not part of the relationship. It’s just food. If someone asks you to provide food for the specific purpose of an event celebrating a relationship, such as at a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception, you are being asked to acknowledge that relationship, however peripherally.

  82. Well, it can be read both ways. I can say, “yes, it should be allowed” and that be read to mean I actually condone such a choice, which I obviously don’t.

    The difference is simple. I can choose to make a birthday cake for a gay person and not a wedding cake. I’m not discriminating against the person, I’m choosing not to participate in an event I don’t agree with. I can be willing to serve the head of “Kill All Wild Animals, Inc.” in my restaurant, but still refuse to make dishes containing meat.

    And even in your comment, by the way, you blur the lines between “okay” and “allowable.” This is why your question can’t really be answered. With all respect (and I hope I’ve earned some benefit of the doubt on that due to past interactions between us,) it seems from this end that you’re not being entirely honest with yourself about what you’re really asking. You think you’re asking one question, but you’re really asking another.

    I would fight for a gay person’s right to refuse to serve me at his restaurant because I’m Mormon. That doesn’t mean I think it’s “okay” for him to do so. Does that help?

  83. Mark Brown says:

    Therre’s a lunch counter at the Walgreen’s in Greensboro, NC, that wants your business.

  84. I honestly don’t see why a gay couple would want to have their “wedding” catered by someone who had been forced by court order to show up with the canapes and cold poached salmon. The courts have limited powers, and cannot force a chef to make food delicious, or even palatable.

  85. Those lunch counters were at Woolworth’s.

  86. Let me put it this way: should a black barber be allowed to refuse to cut the hair of a man known to be the head of the KKK?

  87. It was a sincere question, SilverRain, and my attempt to be precise in my comments and not even imply anything else is due in large part to the fact that I do respect you. Please don’t insult my intelligence by implying (or, really, stating flat-out) that I don’t know what I’m asking. Please give me the respect I’ve been trying to give you.

    I’m asking if business owners should be allowed to refuse service to a citizen based on religious or conscience reasons – and, based on what you’ve said, I believe your answer is an unqualified, “Yes.” It appears that you believe the right to refuse service is almost absolute. After all, if you’re getting hyper-technical about exact wording, black citizens could “conduct their own business” back in the day (which is the only exception you’ve given, back in your comment at 12:27pm), so your comment would appear to disapprove of laws that forced white business owners to serve black customers.

    I don’t know that for certain, but that’s what your comments appear to say. Is that correct?

  88. Wow! Pretty soon we’ll be re-arguing separate but equal.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but as I recall the US is a republic as opposed to a democracy an importance difference being government and/or the majority is restrained from infringing upon the inalienable rights of minorities.

  89. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I would fight for a gay person’s right to refuse to serve me at his restaurant because I’m Mormon. That doesn’t mean I think it’s “okay” for him to do so.”

    Wow, I’d hate to live in a society like that, SilverRain. Thankfully, I don’t have to. These questions were basically resolved by society decades ago. It takes a remarkably biased reading of history to assert that non-discrimination laws are somehow unnecessary now.

    In my observation, conservative religious people outside the South didn’t really mind non-discrimination laws much (which protect them as well!) until these recent cases involving gay weddings came up. Now suddenly cries of “Religious Persecution!” ring forth from bakeries across the land. It’s the addition of “sexual orientation” to these laws that is the real source of all this gnashing-of-teeth.

  90. Refusing to serve someone who is the head of the KKK is not at all the same thing as refusing to serve someone because of their race/ethnicity. Not even close.

  91. It’s hard to know where to start in unpacking the wrongness of your statement Howard, but I will confirm that the US is a republic (codenamed “fourwitchistans”) and that there are no inalienable rights to marry, to have a marriage banquet or even a wedding picnic, to have a photographer take pictures of your wedding or to even have a wedding cake, and you certainly don’t have an inalienable right to require another person to provide any of the forgoing to you.

  92. ” I can choose to make a birthday cake for a gay person and not a wedding cake. I’m not discriminating against the person..”


  93. Setting aside the inelegance of using the term “inalienable” as opposed to civil rights, the point still stands. You do have a right to marry. And members of white supremacist churches don’t have the right to withhold accommodations at otherwise public businesses—including wedding photography and catering—from interracial couples.

  94. MikeInWeHo: I’m not sure how much gnashing of teeth has occurred on Capitol Hill, but you should be aware that the text of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, does not address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And the section of that statute that addresses places of public accommodation does not address discrimination on the basis of sex. There have been some regulatory decisions and executive actions that provide some protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but they are narrower than the statutory bars on discrimination based on race, creed, color or national origin.

    Some states have outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but many have not. So, to suggest that that is “settled law” is not accurate.

  95. Well I think that’s what’s be debated here Mark B. There is a long history of asserting that natural rights are inalienable meaning not alienable meaning non-transferable to another or capable of being repudiated. A democracy puts this tug o war to a vote but a republic biases the outcome toward the minority. Does it not?

  96. No. Not necessarily.

  97. Again, a birthday cake is for a person. A wedding cake is for a relationship. Whether the person is the same as the relationship is up to the individual to decide. A baker who has no trouble celebrating a person will happily make a birthday cake for that person regardless of lifestyle or appearance or whatever. A baker who has trouble celebrating a type of relationship he or she finds morally offensive will not want to honor that relationship.

  98. Mark, whether or not the protections against discrimination on the basis of orientation are as legally robust as those around race is an entirely separate question from whether or not religious persons have special rights to engage in discrimination in ways that exempt them from civil rights regulations because of their religious beliefs. To frame the application of civil rights regulations to gay couples as an attack on religious freedom is only the very latest in a long line of embarrassing and sometimes pathological claims about the freedom of large and historically longstanding, powerful religious majorities that stretch the notion of religious freedom so far that it is utterly devoid of substance.

  99. Mark B. wrote: No. Not necessarily. Okay, maybe not necessarily but generally. If not generally please explain.

  100. A religious white supremacist does not have the right to withhold either a birthday cake or a wedding cake from an interracial couple if it is an otherwise public enterprise/business.

  101. Splitting hairs about a cake being okay for an individual vs. not for a relationship is utterly ludicrous. The relationship doesn’t pay for the product, the individual does. What the individual does with it the product is their own business.

  102. The point I’m making is, I think much of the conservative hand-wringing about minority rights is really a disagreement with our fundamental form of government and a failure to recognize their own privilege.

  103. Tracy M – I didn’t say it wasn’t ludicrous. But can you see that there is a difference and that the difference might make someone uncomfortable even if it does not make you yourself uncomfortable?

  104. No. I cannot.

  105. Can anyone visualize Christ saying; Sorry, i don’t do carpentry for practicing queers?

  106. I can see that a wedding cake makes gay-marriage opponents uncomfortable in a way that a birthday cake would not. But there’s a difference between privately being less comfortable with something and publicly saying “I have a right to engage in X and Y forms of discrimination because I’m uncomfortable with Z.”

  107. Howard – as opposed to Himm saying; Sorry, but I’m here for Jews only?

  108. You gotta start somewhere Frank.

  109. I find it very sad that our church’s doctrine and practice seems to license the “faithful” to exercise their biases against minorities in the holy name of God.

  110. Our doctrine doesn’t, Howard.

    When it comes to practice, there is only each of us, individually, and the dictates of our personal consciences.

  111. MikeInWeHo says:

    Mark B: I misspoke earlier about “settled law.” Of course you are correct. What I meant was that the expansion of state- and local non-discrimination laws to include “sexual orientation” has passed court review for a very long time. These ordinances are allowed. That’s all I meant.

    I am well aware that there are plenty of places where it’s perfectly legal for the Christian baker to flat-out deny serve to gay customers, or fire them as employees upon detection. Heck, I have heard some recent, sad stories out of Utah County about beloved teachers being fired from their job when word got out they were gay. There is no legal recourse state-wide in Utah.

    Since ENDA isn’t going to pass congress anytime soon, that will be situation for a while I think. I’m not sure what percentage of the overall U.S. population lives in an area where discrimination based on sexual orientation has been outlawed.

  112. Well said Ray!

  113. Tracy M – There is the issue, right there. Two totally different ways of approaching the issue, and almost impossible for each side to understand the other, and both sides are positive they are right. I’m not sure how to resolve that other than to point it out.

  114. Just because both sides _think_ they are right doesn’t make it so. I’m with Tracy, the hair-splitting is ludicrous.

  115. People don’t serve events; people serve people at and through events. The contract is not between the supplier and the event; it’s between the supplier and the buyer.

    A restaurant owner serves customers in a particular building, chosen by the owner; a caterer serves customers in multiple places, chosen by the customers. Fundamentally, there is no difference in what each does: serve food to people for which those people pay. Only the locations are different – and the fact that the owner controls the “event” more closely than the caterer. Establishing a catering business changes the parameters in some ways, but it does not change the fundamental, basic service provided. *A caterer simply is a mobile restaurant owner, in practical terms.*

    Thus, the core law governing whom a restaurant owner and a caterer are required to serve ought to be the exact same. If one can deny service to a particular type of customer, the other should be allowed to do so, as well. If one cannot deny service, the other should not be able to do so, either.

    What does this mean? It’s not about religious freedom in any way; it’s about public service law. It’s not about a birthday vs. a wedding; it’s about serving homosexuals. It’s not about celebrating anything; it’s about avoiding tainted, sinful activity. It’s about not being required to associate with sinners in their sinful ways. It’s about contamination and purity.

    It’s black and white.

  116. MikeInWeHo says:

    One of the reasons I wrote the initial post was to trace the line from today back to earlier decades. Conservative religious people who cry “religious persecution” because their gay neighbors can get married are the direct political (and dare I say it — spiritual) descendants of those who quite recently were fighting for sodomy laws that made just being in a gay relationship a crime. I actually found it refreshingly honest when the conservative bloggers at Millennial Star took on this very same topic.

  117. Until fairly recently, interracial marriage was discouraged as a matter of religious principle by our church (among others). In fact, it was only this year that the young men’s curriculum was revised to remove a prophetic statement discouraging interracial marriage. I trust that no one who is arguing that our religious objection to gay marriage entitles us to practice civil discrimination would be comfortable suggesting that the “religious freedom” argument ought to have exempted us from having to make wedding cakes for interracial couples in, say, 2010 (or even in 1977…).

  118. And by “fairly recently,” of course I mean embarrassingly, disgracefully, excruciatingly recently…

  119. The hair splitting is partly about modeling disgust for the “sin” vs. “loving” the “sinner” or at least it mimics the model basically set by Elder Oaks and the new website which is actually quite an improvement over some of Elder Packer’s older positions. Disgust according to Jonathan Haidt is far more a conservative trait than a liberal one. Of course it’s hard to find support anymore for showing distain for the “sinner” so one’s acceptable avenues for bias expression are becoming pretty limited and so that turf is carefully guarded and defended least society go to hell in a hand basket.

  120. Show disgust all your want in your home, in choosing where you patronage, in whom you invite to dinner, even in your speech- but your right to show disgust doesn’t- ever- trump the civil rights of another. Hold whatever disdainful opinion you like, but your disgust doesn’t get codified; it stays personal.

    And there is a long and illustrious history of “society going to hell in a handbasket”- it usually just means the status quo is shifting and making those in positions of historical privilege a little less comfortable. And the world spins on.

  121. Is anybody claiming that gay marriages are sexless (not consummated)? That makes a difference to me from a religious standpoint (at least in the context of comparing blacks). A black man can’t change his color, but a gay man can choose to not have sex.

  122. There was a time, Mike, when a black man having sex with a white woman was punishable by death. Of course, a black man could have chosen not to have sex with a white woman, right?

    A very serious question:

    Was society right, and were Mormons wrong, in the late 1800’s when polygamy was outlawed explicitly because it was seen as immoral, unnatural and abominable? If evangelical Protestants (who number well over 50% of the population in the Deep South) decided to pass laws outlawing Mormon sealings, since they believe those “so-called marriages” are damnable and disgusting, would you support a law in, say, Alabama, doing so? If it really is a state’s right issue, and if the religious majority in a state should be respected regarding the definition of marriage . . .

    After all, Mormons can choose to be something else. It’s not like they were born that way and can’t change, right?

  123. My comment had nothing to do with civil liberties, but rather with how the church views gay marriage.

  124. Thanks for that clarification, Mike. You seem like a nice guy.

    The point is that this thread isn’t just about how people have viewed homosexuals and homosexuality over the years (although that is a big part of it, obviously) but also about how those views have been used to treat them – which is all about civil liberties. It’s possible (and even good, in the right setting) to separate those aspects and discuss each one, but, in practical terms, too often people focus on the personal and religious view and don’t face the practical reality of policy based on those views. Even worse, often people do face that conflict and don’t see and understand the difference.

  125. Despite my views about homosexual sex, I believe they should enjoy all civil liberties that I do. And I think that people in their personal relations with gays should be respectful and loving. It’s difficult terrain for many people to navigate.

  126. Yes, it certainly is.

  127. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence. It is a nod to your intelligence that I’m pointing it out. You have a blind spot in comprehending another’s perspective in this case. It takes intelligence to acknowledge that someone may be better at understanding their own choices than you are, and to adjust one’s perceptions accordingly. I believe you have that intelligence.

    You are not correct in your summation. In fact, that you believe that is what I’m saying confirms my opinion about your question. You are looking for an absolute (or “almost absolute”) statement on something that is contextual and nuanced.

    Frankly, many of the opinions tendered on this thread are the exact sort that made me take a second look at my political stance regarding gay marriage years ago. Social change always carries ripples. Modern contempt for those ripples, an unwillingness to even address them, and a willingness to sacrifice any and all consequences on an altar of one narrow value is a dangerous direction to take. No matter who is taking it.

  128. I am, by the way, disinclined to continue the conversation here. If you really want to discuss it further, you know where to find me. ;)

  129. No, SilverRain, there is a huge difference between comprehending and accepting – and not comprehending and disagreeing.

    We all have blind spots. The problem is we are blind to them.

  130. Antonio Parr says:


    Should a Holocaust survivor who has does photographic portraits from his home studio be required by law to photograph the head of an anti-semetic organization?

    Should a great niece of Emett Till who has a small sole proprietor baking business be required by law to bake a cake for a KKK celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Klan in the town in which Emmett Till was murdered?

    Should an evangelical christian with a one woman photo business on the side to help ends meet, be required by law to photograph a Mormon baptismal service if she believes that Mormonism is a satanic perversion of true Biblical Christianity?

    Should a Latter-Day Saint woman who has a small sole proprietor baking business be required to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding if she believes that homosexual weddings are an affront to her understanding of God’s plan for families?

    Should a conservative Catholic filmmaker with no employees be required to provide his services to a film celebrating Roe v. Wade?

    Should a conservative evangelical Christian wedding photographer be required by law to film a wedding at a nudist colony where the people being married and those participating believe that God wants humans to be unashamedly naked?


    (FYI – there are commerce requirements in virtually every federal law governing discrimination that recognize that businesses must have a meaningful commercial presence and infrastructure before they can be bound by these laws (and exposed to the risk of financial ruin that would flow from having to defend a lawsuit in federal court).

  131. Restated:
    Should a Holocaust survivor or Emett Till be legally compelled to be confronted by and reminded of and perhaps triggered by the trauma that was imposed upon them?
    Should others be legally compelled to serve those who’s belief or lifestyle they disagree with?

    These are very different questions and should not be conflated.

  132. Antonio Parr says:

    Sorry Howard, they are only very different if you perceive them to be so. The other examples involve people with sincerely held beliefs who feel traumatized by being compelled to participate in events that they violate core beliefs.

  133. Antonio Parr says:

    . . . in events that violate their core beliefs . . .

  134. They are very different. Non physical suffering is optional. Holocaust and murder are events of physical suffering that were not preventable by the victims or the witnesses or the victim’s loved ones who’s love compels empathy for the victims and loss.

    A violation of core beliefs is unnecessary suffering via perception. It is more than possible to transcend that suffering via a change in perception that would not violate any LDS doctrine or teaching. You are exaggerating, I can be a happy faithful LDS member and still enjoy baking a cake for a gay wedding.

  135. Antonio, I’ve been trying to see if you and Naismith draw a line anywhere. That has been the sole reason for my questions. It appears you do not. I respect your right to take that stance, even if I don’t agree.

    I just want to make sure I am correct in my takeaway – that you feel it was fine, legally and morally, for white restaurant owners to deny service to black citizens due to issues of personal conscience. So far, you have not answered that question directly – deflecting it, instead, by asking about other situations. I have to assume you are trying to teach or expound a principle, and I have been trying to make sure I understand the limits, or lack of limit, on that principle.

  136. Dr_Doctorstein says:

    Antonio, allow me to respond to the general question raised by your specific questions. I think the best approach is to distinguish between two types of discrimination: that based on religion (or some other protected class) and that based on other factors. A restaurant cannot refuse to serve me simply because I’m black (or gay, or Mormon, or a member of some other protected class), but of course it CAN refuse to serve me if I’m not wearing shoes (and this would be true even if I were to claim membership in the Church of the Shoeless). Similarly, the great niece of Emmett Till is not required to bake a cake for a KKK celebration, for the obvious reason that KKK membership is a completely voluntary affiliation rather than the kind of immutable characteristic that makes one a member of a protected class.

    Anyone who wishes may try their hand at applying this same principle to each of your other questions.

    There seem to me to be two broad questions involved here:

    1. Should a business owner be free to turn away members of a protected class (race, gender, sexuality, whatever), simply by virtue of being a member of that class? (I don’t think so, though YMMV.)

    2. Should the law require business owners to sometimes do things that offend their conscience or taste? (I would say the law should NOT do this EXCEPT when necessary to protect the fundamental dignity and rights of members of a protected class.)

    Applying these principles will be straightforward in some cases and fiendishly difficult in others; welcome to the realm of law (not to mention life). But the fact that one winds up occasionally losing one of the tougher cases does not make one a victim of some terrible evil, nor does it signal the imminent end of All that Is Good and True. Nor does it seriously threaten the well-being of the Church.

  137. Applying these principles will be straightforward in some cases and fiendishly difficult in others; welcome to the realm of law (not to mention life). But the fact that one winds up occasionally losing one of the tougher cases does not make one a victim of some terrible evil, nor does it signal the imminent end of All that Is Good and True. Nor does it seriously threaten the well-being of the Church.

    Very, very well said, Dr.

  138. On that note, closing this one down.

  139. Federal fair housing laws don’t apply to small owner-occupied dwellings (four units or less). This was a attempt at line-drawing intended to protect the first amendment right of freedom of association. States are free to enact more stringent criteria. The idea, simply put, is that you shouldn’t be forced to live in close proximity to someone if you find them repugnant. On the other hand, if you have any sort of commercial scale, in exchange for the privilege of conducting business you are required to not discriminate. You could make a good argument that a similar accommodation should be made for sole proprietors who object to providing services to people whose actions offend their religious sensibilities. The reality is that there are plenty of people who would be willing to bake wedding cakes and using the coercive power of the state to require someone to provide services in violation of their conscience is problematic. Social mores and commercial expediency can be relied on to do most of the work here–I’m not convinced the law needs to act as the blunt instrument to force compliance when there isn’t likely to be any real trouble securing the desired services. I get twitchy when the quest for ideological purity gets taken too far. I’m not in favor of religious exemptions that would allow large churches to discriminate in their non-core mission but I don’t see the benefit of using the coercive power of the state to require an individual to provide a cake while holding his nose. We should protect an individual’s right to be a bigot while attacking systemic problems that promote bigotry.