2015 was a banner year for the LGBT community.
Early this summer, led by four amazing women and one man with an eye on his legacy, the Supreme Court ruled against institutional bigotry and ushered in marriage equality as the law of the land. To me this was the next step, a natural progression, in the continuing advancement of civil rights. There’s still much work to be done – nondiscrimination laws to be passed, and acceptance and protection for Trans* people – but achieving marriage equality was big.
Then of course, little Salt Lake beat far larger and more progressive cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to elect as its leader a member of the LGBT community – when voters picked Jackie Biskupski as mayor.
And then there was the decision by the LDS Church to deem gay men and lesbian women in relationships as “apostates,” excommunicate them, and bar any children being raised in two-dad or two-mom families from fully participating in the religion. Of course, those kids can be baptized and become fully-practicing Mormons at 18 – assuming as young adults they’re willing to reject their gay or lesbian parents’ relationship and denounce marriage equality. Gee that sounds healthy.
What irks me about this entire situation isn’t so much the decision as it is local media and gay rights organizations deeming the policy as an attack against the LGBT community. It is not. It may be an issue for LGBT Mormons, but that’s where it ends.
I guess since I write about my experiences as a gay dad, quite a few people have asked me my thoughts about this new doctrine. My answer was the same to all of them: What do I care? I’m not Mormon. Never have been, and have absolutely no desire to become one. As far as I’m concerned, the church leaders handed every person – gay and straight – a great response to overly pesky missionaries: I’d love to learn more, but I’m an apostate!
No, I don’t think Equality Utah should hold rallies denouncing it. Nope, Mayor-elect Biskupski shouldn’t seek an audience to discuss it. What the Mormon Church does is its business. Pretending it is somehow an issue affecting the larger LGBT community is naive and, frankly, gives greater credit to the pronouncements coming down from South Temple than is deserved. Yes, there are many practicing and former Mormons for whom this decision is heartbreaking. I understand that. I empathize with them. But for the millions of non-Mormon gay men and lesbian women in this country, it is irrelevant.
I have many dear LDS friends whom I love very much. Several of them contacted me about this issue. Many of them are torn: they love and respect their LGBT friends and family, but are also devoted to their faith. The pain my wonderful friend, Gary, felt was palpable in his voice. Here is a 70-something year old man, who honorably served a mission, married his beautiful wife in the temple, and loves me like a nephew, accepting my family as a part of his own. The anguish this proclamation caused him cut me to the bone.
My response to Gary, to my other LDS friends, and the only commentary on the issue I published on my Facebook page was simple: the Sunday morning when Mormon bishops read this new decree, my sons served as altar boys and took Holy Communion in the Greek Orthodox Church in which they are being raised. Then, afterward, as part of our church-sponsored Boy Scout troop, they served pancakes at a breakfast fundraiser. Among the hungry crowd were their two dads.