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Gay rights activists see Mormons softening attitudes toward their community
Gay rights activists hold hands in protest in front of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July 2009.
April 17th, 2012
12:25 PM ET

Gay rights activists see Mormons softening attitudes toward their community

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) Kevin Kloosterman, a former Mormon bishop, said he “came out” last year just not in the way that many people associate with coming out.

“I came out and basically made a personal apology to (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) folks for really not understanding their issues, not really taking the time to understand their lives and really not doing my homework,” Kloosterman said in an interview with CNN.

Though not speaking on behalf of the church, the then-bishop stood in front of a crowd of gay and straight Mormons at a November conference on gay and lesbian issues in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered.

Donning a suit and tie, Kloosterman was visibly shaken, struggling to find the right words as tears welled up in his eyes.

“I’m sorry deeply, deeply sorry,” Kloosterman told the group in a speech that was captured on video. “The only thing I can say to those of you who have been so patient, and have gone through so much, is for you to watch and look for any small changes with your loved ones, with your wards (Mormon congregations), with your leaders. And encourage them in this repentance process.”

Kloosterman’s apology was just one example of what many Mormons and church watchers see as a recent shift in the Mormon community’s posture toward gays and lesbians, including by the official church itself.

Though the church’s doctrine condemning homosexuality has not changed, and the church remains opposed to same-sex marriage, many say the church is subtly but unmistakably growing friendlier toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including voicing support for some gay rights.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Students at the church-owned Brigham Young University recently posted an “It Gets Better” video about the gay and lesbian community there, while a gay Mormon in San Francisco was selected last year for a church leadership position.

A new conference series on gay and lesbian Mormons the same one Kloosterman addressed last year is seeing an uptick in popularity.

Church spokesman Michael Purdy would not comment on whether church members are changing their stance toward gay and lesbian issues but said in an e-mail message: “In the Church, we strive to follow Jesus Christ who showed immense love and compassion towards all of God’s children.”

Purdy wrote, “If members are becoming more loving and Christ-like toward others then this can only be a positive development.”

‘It is definitely getting better’

The Brigham Young students who taped the pro-gay video this month were contributing to a popular video series meant to inspire hope in young people who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality identity.

The video featured students telling stories of being gay at Brigham Young, sharing tales of heartache, loss and even suicide.

“It kind of is a very different world to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, a fifth-year senior and acting president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction, the group that posted the video.

Explain it to me: What’s Mormonism?

“We put out the message for youth that are going through this, and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago, and it gets better and there is a place for you,” she said.

Though chastity is a requirement at Brigham Young, gay and lesbian students say they are under more scrutiny. The school’s honor code says that “homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates” the code.

But Jensen said reaction to the video, which has been viewed almost 400,000 times on YouTube, has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Carri Jenkins, an assistant to Brigham Young's president, told CNN that the production of the video is not a violation of the honor code and that the students will not be punished.

The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

Jensen said that while gay and lesbian Mormons face a tough road, she sees a shift toward greater acceptance. It is definitely getting better within the church, she said. “They are not so quick to judge. They understand that they don’t understand everything. I am glad I can be a little part of it.”

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Some scholars of Mormonism, such as Columbia University’s Richard Bushman, said they see the very existence of such a gay rights group at Brigham Young as a step toward greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.

“The last 10 years have been a huge sea change in terms of willingness to accept homosexuals,” Bushman said. “Gay kids are still going to have a tough time in the church, but this level of acceptance and acknowledgment that is really that last decade I would say.”

Most gay Mormons point to 2008’s push for Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state but has faced legal challenge in the courts, as a low point in the relationship between the church and gay and lesbian community.

Mormons make up 2% of California’s population, but they contributed half of the $40 million war chest used to defend Proposition 8, according to a Time magazine report.

The church’s Proposition 8 activism angered many gay rights groups around the country, with some labeling the church “bigoted,” “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”

But church officials pushed back against the perception that the Proposition 8 backlash has provoked a Mormon softening on gay and lesbian issues.

“Many positive relationships have come from the Church’s experience in supporting traditional marriage in California,” Purdy, the church spokesman, said in an e-mail exchange with CNN.

Purdy draws a distinction between being against same-sex marriage and against equality for gays and lesbians.

He reiterated that the church was “strongly on the record as supporting traditional marriage,” but he said its stance should never be used as justification for violence or unkindness.

“The Church’s doctrine has not changed but we certainly believe you can be Christ-like, loving and civil, while advocating a strongly held moral position such as supporting traditional marriage,” Purdy wrote in an e-mail message.

“We do not believe that strong support of traditional marriage is anti-gay,” he wrote. “We love and cherish our brothers and sisters who experience same gender attraction. They are children of God.”

Church doctrine says that sex outside marriage is a sin and can lead to excommunication. Since gay people cannot be married in the church, any sex for them would be premarital and, therefore, sinful.

“The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear,” the church’s website says. “It’s no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. The sin is in yielding to temptation. Temptation is not unique. Even the Savior was tempted.”

Openly gay and a church leader

Mitch Mayne seems to relish his role as a lightning rod.

Mayne, an openly gay Mormon who blogs about homosexuality and the church, received the calling a term Mormons use for being invited into a church position in August.

Mayne is now executive secretary in a San Francisco ward of the church.

“I view myself as gay and being completely whole as being gay,” Mayne said.

Many observers of Mormonism say Mayne’s calling marked a unique moment in church history. Purdy said that Mayne’s appointment is “not unique,” but it’s hard to find precedent for an outspokenly gay executive secretary.

Mayne said he sees his job as building bridges with the gay community in San Francisco and showing them “there are pockets in the Mormon Church where you can be yourself.”

The biggest obstacle toward building those bridges is the threat of excommunication, said Mayne, who told CNN that in some wards just being gay can lead to expulsion from the church.

According to church doctrine, a formal disciplinary council can be called at the request of church leader.

While the leaders of the church mandate councils called for murder, incest or apostasy, it has a long list of reasons to call a disciplinary council.

According to the church’s website, the list of reasons includes “abortion, transsexual operation, attempted murder, rape, forcible sexual abuse, intentionally inflicting serious physical injuries on others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations. …”

Some wards are observing that guidance while others aren’t, Mayne said.

“Here in the Bay Area ... we are no longer seeking out LGBT members of the church and excommunicating them,” Mayne said. “Our role is to bring people closer to the Savior, so if we are routinely excommunicating people, then we are really not doing our job.”

Mayne said he believes the challenge is to convince church leaders that they don’t ever have to excommunicate gay members.

And he said the Proposition 8 campaign was the “least Christ-like thing we have ever done as a church.”

“Not only did we alienate gays and lesbians, but we alienated their parents, their friends, those who support them the ripple effect went way beyond the gay community, and I don’t think we were prepared for such a negative fallout,” Mayne said. “I think the church deserved the black eye they received.”

He added, “As a result of that really horrible time, I think we are entering a really good time to be a gay Mormon. It is getting better.”

‘Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off’

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks, the City Council of Salt Lake City listens. At least the council seemed to in 2009 when it voted on an ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate against gay and transgendered residents in housing and employment.

"The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage,” church spokesman Michael Otterson told the council.

Shortly after the church’s expression, the City Council approved the measure unanimously.

Many gay rights activists said they saw the move as an olive branch after the Proposition 8 debate.

“The tone and the culture is evolving, and the way the LGBT people are being treated is changing. I don’t think the church’s policy has caught up to that change in culture,” said Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “The Mormon church hasn’t gotten nearly as politically involved as they had since 2009.”

Though Murray sees the church lobbying for anti-discrimination laws as a positive step, he said the church’s shift is more about style than substance.

“It is going to take a lot of intentional effort to actually prove they are different,” Murray said. “That burden, because of the really public nature of their support of Prop 8, falls harder on the Mormon church than others.”

Joanna Brooks, a popular Mormon blogger and president of Mormon Stories, a nonprofit group that facilitates conversations on Mormon issues, echoes Murray’s sentiments.

She said she sees the church’s stance as challenging gay Mormons to choose between the religion they most likely grew up with and their desire for romantic companionship.

“Mormonism doesn’t simply wash off,” she said, adding that the church can’t make it that “either you are gay or you are Mormon, or either you support gay rights or you support the church.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: California • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Mormonism • Utah

soundoff (1,904 Responses)
  1. Gosh

    I feel so out of touch not having a fictional fairy tale to pray to...I feel so empty and devoid of light and understanding.
    If only there was something that could make me feel less like a loser...oh wait there is...god can make me feel less like a fool....I see how smart all these religious fools are and I wanna be like them.

    NOT!

    April 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  2. James

    I am ready to bet that the percentage of gay mormons approximate that of gay catholics, gay muslims or gay atheists.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • GodPot

      I would hope there are at least more openly gay atheists since it's the only group that truely accepts them as they are, no changes needed.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  3. Just saying

    You take god or whatever you think is real and shove it!!
    You are a delusional idiot!

    April 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  4. heguido

    I didn't say I was rigtheous, quite the opposite. And I never said you were gay. But I still think that you are suffering. It's not good to go around insulting people just because you think they are wrong.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • GodPot

      Nope, no suffering here, happier than I ever was living as a Christian. I spent 30 years in that world, waited till I was 20 to get married and both my wife & I were virgins, which by the way is a HUGE mistake. When you plan on spending the rest of your life with someone you better know ahead of time whether they match you in the bedroom, otherwise it will be like living with a permanantly leaky roof, it doesn't make you go insane right away, but give it enough time...drip, drip, drip, drip.....

      Thankfully I left that all behind and have remarried a wonderful woman and I couldn't be happier. I only get frustrated when I see the same kind of rhetoric from ignorant theists who claim they and only they know the truth about why we are here and whats best for me and where we are going, so just listen to us and oh, don't forget to drop some coins in the plate on your way out...you do want to show your appreciation for us, I mean God, don't you...

      April 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  5. The Vicar

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2nLf5AFbWg&w=640&h=390]

    April 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  6. MAL

    Of course they are, they are realizing that most have decent salaries and are calculating the extra monies they can bring in from them.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  7. Tom

    I've been trying to get my Mormon brother and Dad to think more gay friendly for years. They have not budged at all. A gay friendly Mormon is an oxymoron.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Norman

      the good news is just as many peopel hate mormons as they hate gays-that's why Romeny cant win! yay!

      April 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I CANNOT QUIT SOUNDING STUPID.
    PLEASE SHOOT ME. ...WAIT I WILL GET ON MY KNEES AND PRAY....

    April 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • PRAYER CHANGES THINGS

      WHILE YOUR DOWN THERE LET ME UN-ZIP

      April 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • And jesus said...

      Blow me!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Observer

      Grow up, children.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      You have proved beyond the shadow of any doubt that my statements about atheists are 100% accurate. Your foolishness could not have provided a more perfect example. Thanks and God bless.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Observer

      just sayin,

      Pure NONSENSE. Guess again.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  9. Prayer changes things

    I TOO AM A MORON. I BELIEVE PRAYER IS IMPORTANT AND WILL SAVE ME AND YOU.
    I SHOULD NOT BREED. I AM A DUMB MUTHA-FUKER!

    April 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • YUP

      While your on your knees prayer you all might as well blow me!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      I think it hurt its widdle feelings Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  10. upwardquest

    Do not be fooled by what the Mormon church says or pretends to do. This includes Romney, too. The Mormon church's goal is to take over the world and make everybody believe the BS they believe.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Villi

      And I'm sure you sit at church everyday with the rest of them. Do your research before you bash...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I AM A MORON. I BELIEVE PRAYER IS IMPORTANT AND WILL SAVE ME AND YOU.
    I SHOULD NOT BREED. I AM A DUMB MUTHA-FUKER!

    April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • YUP

      That is the first smart thing you have ever said!
      And I agree. You should not breed!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Ha-Ha

      Take that prayer and shove it!
      I agree we all think you are a looney bird!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things, proof provided by the two posts above this onse.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • melikeydrinky

      and you should stop using all caps. it doesn't have the desired effect of making you more convincing. Rather, it has the unintended effect of annoying everyone.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs

      April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Proof is three posts above the first prayer changes things post

      April 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      All the proofs previously listed about atheist wanna bees are evident on this one thread, amazing answer to prayer. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Proof is three posts above the first prayer changes things post"

      Thanks for proving I am correct in that you are a LIAR.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hate lies and stolen name all on one thread. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • DH

      @Jesus

      I believe that prayer can cause change. But prayer without faith is useless and faith requires work. Someone that is ill can pray to be healed. If they have faith that their prayer will be answered, they will do what it takes for that prayer to be answered and that includes seeking medical attention. Read James in the Bible, he teaches about faith and works.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • @ DH

      Sorry, I wiped my ass with those pages...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  12. J100409

    Can't we just refuse to admit Utah as a state unless the Mormon Church changes its policy on traditional marriage?
    Oh wait, we did that and there was a new "Revelation" that polygamy was a sin and not a requirement of the faith.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • melikeydrinky

      Actually, it's only a sin on the planet Earth. Mormons can still be sealed in heaven to multiple wives.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • heguido

      Polygamy is not a sin, but it is up to the Lord to declare when and where of its practice.
      Abraham, for instance, was "polygamous", and nevertheless God declared him "His friend".
      Now is prohibeted by the Lord, and therefore is not allowed in His Church.
      Hmsxual behaviour is a sin, since it attacks the very core of the purpose of this life.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • GodPot

      What religion was Abraham before he became a friend of God by the way? Did he practice a religion? If so would that not be the true religion? The one that had God noticing him as a good man? How many of the Mosaic laws did he have to practice to reach such a high status with the almighty? Shouldn't we all just try to live like Abraham if that were true? Or does God make different rules for different people and let others get away with, well, murder? (ahem, King David, Lot, Abraham)... Ah yes, the never changing but ever changing God of the Christians, just like an exspensive prostltute who can be anything for any man, if... the price is right...

      April 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  13. melikeydrinky

    This is the best board EVER! How 'bout we all get together for paintball sometime?

    April 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Malone

      Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a paintball shooter to a gun fight!

      April 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Raksha

    To gay LDS members waiting for the church to really understand..........all I can say is good luck with that.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  15. just sayin

    Hate, lying, thievery and murder are the character qualities atheist types aspire to. God bless

    April 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Hate" -LIE

      " lying" -LIE

      "thievery" -LIE

      "murder are the character qualities atheist types aspire to" -LIE

      Typical of this troll.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Raksha

      Oh please, go to school and get an education.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Observer

      Well done. 100% FACTLESS and IGNORANT.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Nonimus

      You're projecting again...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      A few proofs
      Hate = any atheist wanna be post on these blogs
      Lying = any atheist wanna be post on these blogs
      Thievery = atheist wanna be stealing names on these blogs
      Murder = The ultimate atheist achievements from such well known atheists as Stalin, Mao etc.
      God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • yup

      Thats all we care about...burning bibles too

      April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • just sayin

      You are dedicated to burning Truth. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      just sayin': looking forward to being on your knees in front of jesus forever?

      April 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Hate = any atheist wanna be post on these blogs" -LIE
      Lying = any atheist wanna be post on these blogs" -LIE
      Thievery = atheist wanna be stealing names on these blogs" -LIE
      Murder = The ultimate atheist achievements from such well known atheists as Stalin, Mao etc." -LIE That's why Christians killed more Indians in stealing American than Hitler killed J ews. Religion has killed more people in history.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  16. melikeydrinky

    If Romney is elected America will be the next North Korea. An Orwelian police state controlled by the mormons. we will all be sent to re-education camps to learn about white salamanders and the evils of Coke. Oops, I forgot, Coke is OK now.

    April 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Problem..?

      ...Troll much?

      April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  17. Disgusted

    I would encourage everyone reading these comments to look carefully to see who the true "haters" are. If you use this thread as a judge to see who the better person is, I am afraid I would have to side with the Mormons. Not because I think what they are saying is true, just because the anti-Mormon posters are so full of hate.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Not because I think what they are saying is true, just because the anti-Mormon posters are so full of hate."

      The Christians against gay rights have them beat hands down.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Disgusted

      You misunderstand, I was speaking only of these posts and not in terms of anything else. I was just laughing to myself about the stark differences in language used by the posters. I just think it is funny is all. I was not taking sides, just making a point.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • GenericMan

      You take a side when you undermine the opposing side by passing your own judgement against them. You just went in a roundabout way to it.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • GodPot

      I guess you wouldn't mind being told you are evil, sinful and going to burn for eternity for the crime of being born attracted to a specific gender if they said it nicely enough, right? If they say it with love it's okay right? It's not they that hate, it's the deity they all worship that will get to judge and murder those who don't obey, out of love...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Disgusted

      Not everyone is against you, just relax for crying out loud.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Disgusted

      If you hate Mormons so much, by the way, why do you care what they think about you or where they think you will go? It seems a little odd to me...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Perhaps because the Mormons, like other fundiot groups, spend so much time, money, and energy trying to force their ignorant religious beliefs into our laws?

      April 18, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!..

      April 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Observer

      Atheism,

      Why are you so AFRAID to respond to others?

      LOL.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      April 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Observer

      Prayer,

      Where is your PROOF?

      We're waiting.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      All you've proven is that you are a LIAR. Prayer doesn’t not. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Xgirl360

      Prayer doesn't make a black man white. It doesn't make a woman into man. It doesn't bring the dead back to life And it won't make a gay man straight. Prayer is for comfort, but it doesn't change anything.

      The pendant I wore as a teenager says it best:
      "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

      I became inactive from the Mormon Church because of Prop 8. I won't come back until they recognize the damage they are doing to so many wonderful men and women who aren't hurting anyone.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • pervert alert

      Qu-eers are one of the last danger signs of national collapse. No country degraded by ho mo se xuality has ever lasted.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Qu-eers are one of the last danger signs of national collapse. No country degraded by ho mo se xuality has ever lasted."

      The lies people come up with is just amazing, there are countries where gays can legally marry and their doing just fine! It's prejudice bigoted people like you that degrade our society.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  19. mike

    Sorry to burst your bubble people. but choosing to act upon your desires IS a choice.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Observer

      Yes. Ignorance and bigotry is a choice.

      April 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "but choosing to act upon your desires IS a choice."

      The experts around the world disagree with you. Only prejudice people use that excuse to deny gays their civil rights.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Erik

      "IS a choice."

      Being gay is not a choice. I hate to burst any bubbles, but science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

      In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

      But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

      This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

      This is not an issue in dispute. According to modern science: baby, you were born this way.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Technically, true... just like every straight person's choice, what's your point?

      April 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Ignorance and bigotry is a choice." Yes, but being born with a below 60 IQ isn't, so take it easy on ol' Mikey...

      April 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • fred

      GodPot
      We have straight and gay at our church that make a choice to live their lives for the Glory of God. This is their choice and born that way is never an excuse before God when it comes to what we do with what we were given. A big reason Jesus said we are not to judge is because we often do not know what our own purpose for existence is yet alone what Gods plans are for us as individuals.
      God even allows evil yet everything works to the good of those who believe.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "God even allows evil yet everything works to the good of those who believe."

      LOL! Try telling that to all the dead people Hitler killed that prayed to your god. Christianity is the evil of the world and our society will become much better once it is gone.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      fred: by what authority do you speak for god?

      April 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • GodPot

      "born that way is never an excuse before God when it comes to what we do with what we were given." I see. So it just sux for them to have been born that way and will never get to act on their desires even with other like minded consenting adults just as straight couples get to act on theirs, right? Go ahead and convince yourselves you are right and blindly follow your sick and heartless God who apparently gets his kicks watching people writhe with shame and guilt for the feelings they feel after they have been told by his followers those feelings are "The Devil" and they will burn for eternity if they act upon them.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • fred

      Yeah Right
      Well, if that is a trick question the dead cannot hear me
      In case you have not noticed our world has light and dark, right and wrong, ying and yang, positive and negative charged particles etc. If there is God then by observation this creation reveals Gods plan. Over the last thousands of years or perhaps tens of thousands man has looked up and worshiped God. Regardless of reason man generally assigns good attributes to God. Like it or not to date all things have worked for the good of those who believe in God.
      You make a baseless assumption that those who Hitler killed or tortured came to no good. Your baseless assumption only works in a baseless existence. The reason atheists are called godless is when you reject God you reject the very foundation of all that man has known and felt with regard to his very existence. Without God there is no bases for existence so it is a baseless godless purpose. This is why death holds nothing and life of a man is the same as a frog. Your world view is those who Hitler killed died for nothing. This is the opposite of what the vast majority of all humans since intellegent hominids arrived acknowledged by their actions. This is why good is assigned as right and what is not good assigned as bad. With God and a heart inclined towards worship goodness prevails. I don't want your dead life and dead negative thoughts that attempt to make us out nothing but animals. That applies even if we are all wrong about God.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • fred

      Sam
      Moses had Aaron speak for him because Moses felt he could not speak for God. Who am I that I should speak for God? I guess I take short cuts when I say God said this and that. God has revealed himself over time in many ways to many peoples. I am new at this and most of what I understand comes from the Bible (Hebrew Bible).

      April 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • fred

      GodPot
      Stop it, just stop it. What has happened to you?
      You are falling into the pit rather than allowing yourself to be lifted up by the love of God.
      Look at what you said "Go ahead and convince yourselves you are right and blindly follow your sick and heartless God who apparently gets his kicks watching people writhe with shame and guilt"
      Are you serious? If so darkness has trapped you in its snare. Although I would rather you knew the love of Jesus which is our only hope I would at a minimum hope you toss this negative thought process out of your life. God or no God at least identify stinkin thinkin.
      Gods entire purpose was to point out this loveless hatefull thinking that grips man (religion in particular). Stop it. When you have these hateful thoughts walk away from it. Jesus said he was God, more specificaly the radiant Glory of God. Love God, love your neighbore, love your enemy, do not hate it is murder in Gods eyes, do not judge or you will be judged etc etc. Please show me where you get this wicked God talk.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • GodPot

      @fred – 1 – Jesus never said he was God. Two, you do not refute that according to your logic it is either God putting the "gay" into newborn babies just so they can grow up with shame and guilt piled on them by their peers or at least allowing his alter ego Satan to do it. Either way I would not serve such a God. A God who you claim lets his subjects be tested without even making his presence known to them when not only their lives but supposedly their eternal souls are on the line. And no, the worlds religions today DO NOT make Gods presence known, they just vomit out their rhetoric that always has themselves as the heroes that are entltled to everyone elses stuff. It's worse than the lowliest stinking sewer rats burrowing through rotted corpses for their next meal and it makes me sick. So at the best thing I can think about him is that he does not exist, for no loving creator would treat his creations like this.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • fred

      GodPot
      True, no loving creator would create the kind of hate and abuse we see. If there is a God then God allows it. We are very confused over time as child birth and other varied painful events seem like they go on forever. Reality they do not. Reality check if there is a God and that God is the Hebrew God most attacks are launched against you have an answer, "I will wipe away every tear and restore you". If you want to attack the Hebrew God then take the whole package not just one part. Eternity resotred relative to a few years in pain are nothing and cannot even be measured. Wipe away means wipe away the way it was from the beginning. Now, you want to hang onto a negative painful lie that is up to you but, it is not so writen. If there is no God your life does not change but, it there is a God (witnessed by changed lives all day long) what we know about God is goodness .....................love......................mercy......................peace................hope.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • YeahRight

      “ Over the last thousands of years or perhaps tens of thousands man has looked up and worshiped God. Regardless of reason man generally assigns good attributes to God. Like it or not to date all things have worked for the good of those who believe in God.”

      No, the reason is they finally know it’s a chemical in your brain. Goodness comes from our DNA not a god.
      Religious people find it very annoying that people don't need God to be good, as science has now incontestably proved.

      For millennia, we've been brainwashed into believing that we needed the Almighty to redeem us from an essentially corrupt nature. Left to our own devices, people would quickly devolve into beasts, more violent, tactless, aggressive, and selfish, than we already are.

      Today, we know that this isn't true. With the discovery of mirror neurons by Italian neuroscientist Giaccomo Rizzolatti in the 1990s, we now have physiological proof of why - and how - our species became hard-wired for goodness. Mirror neurons are miraculous cells in the brain whose sole purpose is to harmonize us with our environments. By reflecting the outside world inward, we actually become each other - a little bit; neurologically changed by what is happening around us. Mirror neurons are the reason that we have empathy and can feel each other's pain. It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can't resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with the giggles. (Indeed, people who test for "contagious yawning" tend to be more empathic.) These tiny mirrors are the key to most things noble and good inside us.

      It is through mirror neurons - not God - that we redeem ourselves, achieve salvation, and are "reborn" in virtuous ways once co-opted by religions. Evolution knew what she was doing. A group of successful cooperators has a much higher chance of thriving than a population of selfish liars. In spite of what we read in the headlines, the ratio of bad to good deeds done on any given day across our planet holds at close to zero any day of the year. Although we are ethical works-in-progress, the vast majority of us are naturally positive creatures - meaning not harmful to our environments - most of the time in most of the ways that matter. And God has nothing to do with it.

      Spirituality does but God doesn't. Evolutionary psychologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired with a five-toned moral organ that focuses on a quintet of ethical values - one of which is purity, or sacredness. In a world that can sometimes be disgusting, we evolved an upper tier of emotional longing - the aspiration for purity - to keep us balanced in this satyricon of carnal delights (where animality beckons and frequently wins). Our need for sacredness is part of our ancient survival apparatus, and manifests in what we call faith, the need to connect with that sacred dimension. This has been the primary purpose of religion, of course - to congregate people for the Greater Good - but God has been, in fact, the divine carrot. The important part was communion, a context in which to transcend ourselves, if only for an hour on Sundays. Without this ability "to turn off the Me and turn on the We," moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt tells us, our species would still be wandering around as groups of nomads, unable to create a civilization.

      Aside from mirror neurons, there's oxytocin, the molecule of connection (also known as the molecule of love). It's fascinating to learn that the vagus nerve produces more oxytocin when we witness virtuous behavior in others that makes us want to be better people ourselves. That is why people like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are known in neurological circles as "vagal superstars." We are wired by nature to be elevated at the sight of other people's goodness, mirror neurons and oxytocin conspiring to improve the species. Miraculous though it is, this natural human phenomenon has nothing to do with theology. We are born to be beamed up, Scotty. Original Sin is a thing of the past.

      “The reason atheists are called godless is when you reject God you reject the very foundation of all that man has known and felt with regard to his very existence. Without God there is no bases for existence so it is a baseless godless purpose.”

      That is pure speculation on your part, just because your life is meaningless without a god doesn’t mean others feel the same way. We reject your idea of a god because everything you try to point to as proof of your god, science has proven you wrong.

      “I don't want your dead life and dead negative thoughts that attempt to make us out nothing but animals. “

      Evolution has proven we are animals. You need to lie about a dead life and negative thoughts so you can feel justified in believing in your delusion.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  20. GenericMan

    Those Mormons should have stayed out of public policy. Get out of the legal system. Let your members apply your doctrines, not the rest of the free people.

    April 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.