Site for Mor­mons­forMar­riage

Mor­mon sup­port­ers of gay unions log onto cy­berspace

The Covington News - - Religion - By Jen­nifer Dob­ner

SALT LAKE CITY - Prompted by their church’s sup­port for a Cal­i­for­nia ini­tia­tive to ban gay mar­riage in the state, some Mor­mons are voic­ing op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed ban on the In­ter­net - say­ing in cy­berspace what they might not be able to ex­press in church build­ings.

“We need a place where peo­ple can have a dis­cus­sion and get in­for­ma­tion,” said Laura Comp­ton, a con­trib­u­tor at Mor­mons­forMar­riage.com. “And peo­ple need to know that it’s not com­ing from an anti-Mor­mon place, or a gay Cas­tro district (of San Fran­cisco) place. It’s com­ing from a faith­ful place.”

Mor­mons­forMar­riage is one of a hand­ful of Web sites to spring up since June, when top Mor­mon leaders dis­trib­uted a let­ter to be read from Cal­i­for­nia pul­pits to call the faith’s 750,000-plus mem­bers there to con­trib­ute money and time to help pass Propo­si­tion 8.

The Nov. 4 bal­lot ini­tia­tive would amend Cal­i­for­nia’s con­sti­tu­tion to rec­og­nize mar­riage as only be­tween a man and a woman. A Supreme Court rul­ing in May le­gal­ized civil unions for gay peo­ple, mak­ing it the sec­ond state in The United States to al­low gay mar­riage, af­ter Mas­sachusetts.

“When I heard and saw the let­ter that the church leaders had read in sacra­ment meet­ings, I was ap­palled,” said Carolyn Ball, a les­bian who was ex­com­mu­ni­cated in 2002 for re­fus­ing to choose the church over her part­ner. “So I said, ‘That’s it.’ I want Mor­mons to know that there are gay peo­ple in their con­gre­ga­tions, ev­ery Sun­day.”

In an in­ter­view on ld­shomo­sex­u­al­ity.com, Ball, who taught at the church-owned Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity and its Mis­sion­ary Train­ing Cen­ter, re­calls two failed mar­riages to men and a se­ries of hu­mil­i­at­ing con­ver­sa­tions with her lo­cal church leaders.

“I re­ally just want peo­ple to try and un­der­stand and see the pain they are caus­ing gay mem­bers of the church who are strug­gling,” said Ball, 44, who now teaches at William Woods Uni­ver­sity in Ful­ton, Mis­souri.

Be­sides per­sonal sto­ries and com­ments, most of the pro­gay mar­riage sites in­clude state­ments that out­line the prin­ci­ples that have fos­tered their sup­port of gay unions. Con­trib­u­tors stress that they con­sider them­selves to be faith­ful Mor­mons.

Ld­s4­gay­mar­riage.org quotes le­gal de­ci­sions and Mor­mon scrip­ture from the Doc­trine & Covenants, which states that re­li­gious free­dom doesn’t “pro­vide li­cense to in­fringe or im­pose upon the rights and lib­er­ties of oth­ers.”

Mor­mons are taught that gay sex is a sin, but celi­bate gays can re­main ac­tive in the church.

Church leaders see mar­riage as a moral is­sue and since the 1990s have been ac­tive in ef­forts to de­feat gay mar­riage leg­is­la­tion across the United States. In 2000, church mem­bers sup­ported and helped pass Cal­i­for­nia Propo­si­tion 22, which pro­hib­ited state recog­ni­tion of same-sex unions that were le­gal else­where.

Back then there was no place for a Mor­mon with lib­eral lean­ings about mar­riage to turn.

“If there would have been a site like this, it would have been re­ally help­ful,” said Lisa Fa­hey, a San Fran­cisco graphic de­signer and Mor­mons­forMar­riage con­trib­u­tor.

“Last time, dur­ing Prop. 22, all I did was vote no. This time I wanted to stand up and be heard ... even though it’s hard,” she said. “There is a lot of anx­i­ety and stress over be­ing con­flicted, be­ing an ac­tive Mor­mon and be­ing for gay mar­riage.”

Comp­ton, a life­time church mem­ber and mother of two from Cu­per­tino, Cal­i­for­nia, be­lieves some Mor­mons fear voic­ing opin­ions that con­tra­dict church leaders and lead to them be­ing os­tra­cized in their con­gre­ga­tions, called wards.

“That’s part of the rea­son we wanted to do the site,” said the mother of two. “... If you think you are the only per­son in your ward that feels that way and the rhetoric is re­ally loud, it’s painful.”

In an e-mail, site man­agers at ld­s4­gay­mar­riage de­clined to be iden­ti­fied for this story, say­ing no one was will­ing to give their names “be­cause of the fear of ret­ri­bu­tion by the church.”

Kim Farah, a spokes­woman for the 13 mil­lion-mem­ber Salt Lake City-based church, said church leaders are sat­is­fied that a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers un­der­stand the teach­ings that sur­round the gay mar­riage is­sue and over­whelm­ingly sup­port Propo­si­tion 8.

“The Church, of course, rec­og­nizes and ac­cepts that some among its very large mem­ber­ship may view the is­sue dif­fer­ently,” Farah said in a state­ment. But mem­bers who en­gage in clear op­po­si­tion to church doc­trine may cause lo­cal leaders to con­sider church dis­ci­plinary action, Farah said.

On the Net:

www.lds.org www.Mor­mons­forMar­riage.com www.ld­shomo­sex­u­al­ity.com

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