Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Gay Response To The First Presidency's Call

Not surprisingly, the gay community had no trouble figuring out what the First Presidency's letter meant. The Deseret News reports today that Utah gay and lesbian activists intend to use this weekend's "Utah Pride" celebration to oppose the Church's most recent call to support traditional marriage, between a man and a woman.
In an e-mail to about 4,000 people on Tuesday, Jere Keys, coordinator of Utah Pride, asked those joining the Utah Pride Celebration to "send a message for fairness and equality" to their elected officials by expressing their opposition to a proposed federal marriage amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The e-mail was in response to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' First Presidency statement reaffirming its support of the proposed marriage amendment, which the Senate could debate and vote on next week.

"Let's not be coy, when the LDS Church says jump, thousands of Utahns ask 'how high?' " Keys' e-mail said.

The church's statement, which was to have been read Sunday to congregations throughout the United States, said in part, "We urge our members to express themselves on this urgent matter to their elected representatives in the Senate."
Let's not be coy here Jere. When you send an email to about 4,000 gay and lesbian activists saying jump, you too want them to jump just as high as you claim LDS members are jumping. Please--as if trying to communicate your message somehow vitiates the message!

Keys said as many as 20,000 people could attend the annual Utah Pride Celebration in downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday and predicted more will watch the Pride Parade.
"I think it is important that people get involved," he said. "There is a real difference that can be made. . . . We are a large and thriving community."
So, it's ok for the gay and lesbian folk to "get involved" but not the LDS folk? Does the First Amendment only protect gay and lesbian activists and their message? I think not Jere.

I find it ironic how many in the "bloggernacle" have wrung their hands so hard over the meaning and intent of the First Presidency's letter that they've essentially tied themselves into knots over this issue. The "Brethren's" meaning doesn't seem to be very lost on the gay pride community.

One final thought. I've always been intrigued by the use of the term pride in this context. It reminds me of the use of the word pride in another ancient context as well. But hey . . . what do Prophets, Seers, and Revelators know anyway?


Blogger RoastedTomatoes said...

Guy, I think the reason people online have spent a lot of time worrying about the meaning of the letter is, in effect, that they're hoping to find loopholes. The Proclamation on the Family turns out to be full of them--the text never even mentions homosexuality, despite its clear original intent as a blanket statement against homosexuality and nothing else. This new letter has the same character; it can be creatively read to allow positions other than the one it was obviously originally designed to encourage.

I worry that the church's current activism regarding homosexuality is eventually going to join the list of historical concerns for future generations of Latter-day Saints, right next to the church's near-unanimous opposition to the Civil Rights movement. To whatever extent the texts involved can be deliberately reread as ambiguous, that future difficulty can be ameliorated.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 7:11:00 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

RT: Thanks for your comment. I intend to respond; but, I've got one of those days that are just jam packed at the office--so it will have to wait until later tonight.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 8:44:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Nielson said...

I don't agree that the proclamation has many loopholes. While it does not say the word homosexuality it does say:

'We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.'

This is pretty clear to anyone who is not going out of their way to ignore what is said and create loopholes. Also there are many things of great significance in the Proclamation, doctrinal clarification on many levels. To characterise the PotF as being against homosexuality and nothing else is beyond my ability to understand.

I'm not as smart or as sophisticated as some, but my feeling is that the texts should be read as is, without forcing ambiguity. Clarity on what was said and it's intent will lead to less difficulty in the future.

Anyway, nice post Guy.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 9:02:00 AM  
Blogger RoastedTomatoes said...

Eric, I appreciate your commitment to the Proclamation's text. Your reading of that text certainly reflects its use in our faith community, and I wouldn't want to deny the fact that many people find doctrines of real value in that use.

But, your quote is just on point. The Proclamation refers to "procreation," not "sex." If taken literally, the phrase you quoted is a condemnation of pregnancy out of wedlock. Homosexual intercourse is, by definition, nonprocreative.

The Proclamation, according to a few people who've talked about the process of its creation, was initially requested by lawyers working on the church's position with respect to same-sex marriage in Hawaii. The first draft was amplified by adding additional family-related material, largely drawn from a conference talk by (if I remember correctly) Richard G. Scott, to produce a document that spoke to broader issues and not just homosexuality. That's why I characterize the original intent of the Proclamation as a narrow statement against homosexuality; that's, historically, how the text originated. Its current version does speak to broader themes in a way that many people find valuable and spiritually nourishing; I'm grateful for that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Nielson said...

The text refers to 'powers of procreation' not just 'procreation'.

Anyway, thanks for the history lesson. I was not aware of that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nonetheless, "powers of procreation" is a loophole, in that it can be read narrowly or broadly. If they had instead used language like "sexual relations," the loophole would be closed.

I don't think the existence of these loopholes is deliberate; it's probably a result of the semi-bureaucratic process of producing these statements. But it is the case that the loopholes are there for people who want them.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

RT: If you mean people are hoping to find loopholes in the anticipation of rationalizing not supporting the marriage amendment as the "Brethren" have counseled, I think I would agree with that statement.

I'm not sure I agree with your second point about the sophistication of the rationalization to be to ameliorate some future change in Church doctrine. I'm not a Church historian by any stretch; however, I've been around the Church for over half a century. I've heard statements supporting your suggestion that some earlier members, and even brethren held antagonistic views toward the real Civil Rights movement in the 1950's and 60's. (Note I do not in any way consider gay rights movement to equate with this Civil Rights movement.)

Where I have trouble is with your seeming equation that the earlier opposition to the Civil Rights movement is or was on the same level as the Church's current opposition to gay marriage. Please correct me if I'm wrong; but, I don't recall any unanimous statements or letters read in Sacrament meetings over the signature of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

I also think the Church's opposition to gay marriage and lifestyle is deeply rooted in the laws of chastity, long a sacred covenant and critical commandment since the beginning of time.

So, I don't see any change coming toward homosexuality and its concurrent lifestyle in the same vein as there was a mellowing of Church leaders' attitudes toward the Civil Rights movement in the 50's and 60's.

Any document will contain a certain amount of ambiguity; but, I don't believe the "Brethren" purposefully try to craft documents setting forth official Church policy/doctrine that are ambiguous or misleading in any way. I believe they try to make their pronouncements as clear and plain as possible.

That said, I do agree with your analysis that if you look for the loopholes you are likely to find them; but, the plain and clear meaning of this particular letter I think is obvious. Of course reasonable minds differ.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 9:02:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Eric: Thanks. I think you and I are pretty much on the same page on this one.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 9:04:00 PM  
Blogger Eric Nielson said...


You're welcome.


I think 'powers of procreation' has always been used in the church to mean sexual relations. I think the unfortunate thing is in our politically correct times being tactful may be problematic. But I still think any misinterpreting the PotF on these lines is deliberate.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 5:39:00 AM  

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