The Gayest Meeting I’ve Ever Attended

I spent the first half of last Friday at a workshop sponsored by the LGBT rights advocacy organization OutFront Minnesota. The purpose of the meeting was to help religiously-inclined folks organize to defeat the definition of marriage amendment in the vote that will be taking place in MN in November. I wouldn’t normally attend a political meeting like this, but I found the fact that the meeting was geared towards people who are active participants in a faith organization intriguing.

I attended the workshop with my good friend John, and three other members of the LDS church. I don’t know how many people attended the workshop (100, maybe?), but it’s pretty safe to say that Mormons were statistically over-represented at this meeting, which was surprising given that the LDS church has gained a reputation for being strongly supportive of definition of marriage amendments. John summed it up well in his post:

At the beginning of the day, when folks were invited to introduce themselves and share their religious affiliation with the group, when I and the other LDS folks introduced ourselves as Mormon, the assembly actually cheered. No other religion represented there yesterday elicited that kind of response. For me and others, it was quite emotional.

I don’t say this to convince you of how awesome I am (although, for the record, I am very awesome). Rather, I’m just acknowledging that  being a gay-marriage supporter is a bit of a taboo in the Latter-day Saint culture. However, I don’t think any of my fellow Mormons from my local congregation will be particularly surprised to learn that I do not support the amendment.

I’m not a political person. I’ve never championed a political cause. I’ve never had a sign in my front lawn encouraging people to vote for anything or anyone. I have no idea who my representatives are in the state or federal legislatures.

I don’t know how active I will be over the next several months in encouraging people to vote against the amendment. I might be very active, or I might not be. We’ll just have to see. If you’re a Mormon, I might try to strike up a conversation with you sometime over the next several months about it. Don’t be afraid. I’m nice!

So, why would I consider specifically approaching Mormons to have a conversation about the amendment? Because I want my fellow Mormons to feel empowered to choose how they feel about this political issue, rather than assuming that they are “supposed” to vote a certain way just because they are members of the Church.

Here is a promise to my fellow Mormons:

1. I promise I will never try to change anyone’s mind about the morality or immorality of homosexual actions.

2. I promise I will never encourage anyone to do or believe anything contrary to official church policies or doctrines (relative to this issue, lol. Hello, loud laughter!).


10 thoughts on “The Gayest Meeting I’ve Ever Attended”

  1. Ideally, you’re right, Reuben (sorry for misspelling of your name above), viewing others as an opposite is not very helpful. However, on emotional issues, in which one takes a strong stance, opposing views are just that, “the other” side. As a member of the LDS Church I’m quite sure there are folks who view you and the LDS as evil perhaps. While unfortunate, it is a reality. Our family has been on the receiving end of anti-gay bias. It’s very difficult not to view that negative energy as “the other side” – or, “The Other.” Just one man’s opinion…

  2. I couldn’t make those promises. The most I ever promised was telling the bishop I wouldn’t protest outside the chapel or temple if and when this issue came to MN. I said this at the same time I promised to always support the rights of my LGBT friends.

    I don’t wear my rainbow MN pin which reads “For better, for worse, for all” to church but I will if this political issue gets dredged up more frequently in the coming months.

  3. The State of Washington recently passed a gay marriage bill. Petitions are now circulating to repeal the same. The “official” church policy on the petition and the expected vote in November is “vote your conscience,” which is about a 180 degree change from prop 8. Never underestimate the power of public opinion; i.e., revelation from the people. Note: the Catholic hierarchy has not learned this lesson; the Washington archbishop has encouraged local parishes to circulate the petition after mass. Many local priests/bishops have refused to do so.

  4. I have a friend who is a lay minister in a methodist church on the east coast. He is worried about the droves of young people who have abandoned the institutional church, and is impressed by how many cite anti-gay actions as their reason for doing so.

  5. So nice to see this topic. I joined the church about 15 years ago and have always had a difficult time with this topic. I have many gay/lesbian friends. I grew up with them, know it wasn’t their choice, and understand the personal turmoil they have gone through and continue to endure. I want only happiness for them and sometimes feel guilty for associating myself with a church who feels so strongly that the life they are living is wrong.

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