Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gay Marriage

When we initially named this blog, one of the things I liked about "meaty chunks" was that it hit the whimsical family blog button while also allowing me to feel clever by hinting that we would write pieces about thoughtful matters every once in a while.  It has turned out that there have been fewer meaty matters and more family photos (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course), but I figured I'd pen some thoughts on gay marriage today as it is constantly in the news.

Gay marriage is the social issue of our time.  I've spent a fair amount of time discussing the issue and I've changed my position over the years from opposition to support.   I have gay friends who are married to their gay lovers.  I have gay friends who are married to their opposite sex spouse.  I have gay friends who can't or don't want to get married.  I have Mormon friends who oppose gay marriage for essentially discriminatory reasons.  I have Mormon friends who support gay marriage.  And I have Mormon friends who oppose gay marriage for what I believe are legitimate non-hateful reasons one may or may not agree with.  With all these friends, it's a tall order to put down my own thoughts without risking offense to someone.  On the other hand, maybe I can help people figure out how to feel more at peace with a very contentious topic if I share my own journey from angst to contentment.

Many Mormons feel it is important to oppose gay marriage on a moral basis alone.  I do not think that secular recognition of gay marriage changes the Mormon view of chastity and associated morality, but it does change the very real living circumstances of those involved.  By legalizing gay marriage, relationships in a functional family led by two gay parents can be recognized in a manner that allows for better healthcare, better education, and better safety.  This is good for children and it is good for society in that sense at least. It is just plain prima facia good for those who have expanded rights and ability to care for those they love most dearly. That's why I support gay marriage.  It's pragmatic and it's the Christian thing to do, I believe.

I support gay marriage and I don't feel this is at odds with the leadership of the Mormon church.  We can, as a church community, believe that gay sex violates the law of chastity while still allowing others to secure the secular benefits of legal marriage recognition.  I don't see this as inconsistent.  Mormons have been restricted in practicing certain aspects of our religion over the years specifically because others in society found them to be morally deplorable. I feel the Golden Rule applies here--we can continue to teach and believe that the law of chastity requires opposite sex couples for procreative reasons while still allowing others to live by their own consciences.

There are lots of different directions a discussion on gay marriage might go. My friends from the AMA might press me on the importance of science informing our public policy--that's what I've always believed is the right way to frame our social policies and that was why I spent years on the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health.  My Mormon friends might press me about the recent messages from LDS General Conference in which several leaders alluded to or directly discussed gay marriage, and not in a supportive way.  I can anticipate many things people might say on this topic because I've given it a lot of thought over the years.  For me the bottom line is that gays and Mormons need to cut each other more slack.

I would like my gay friends to appreciate that those who oppose gay marriage do not necessarily do so out of some character flaw such as hate or ignorance.  I would like my Mormon friends to recognize that gay people can be exemplary moral people who have a different understanding of our life on Earth, and their view is not born out of lasciviousness and moral inadequacy.

Is that so much to ask?  Yes, I'm sure it is, for some.  But I will still think and write and chat about it.  I'm sure my views will continue to change over the years as they already have thanks to the influence of so many good people from all sorts of different backgrounds.  My friend Josh Weed wrote a post about gay marriage not long ago, only to retract it and then post an explanation today that I found to be very moving. I think it has great insight into the topic from a Mormon viewpoint.  Not long ago Diana and I attended a gay wedding in Atlanta that was undeniably the most fun I've ever had at a wedding.  It was a beautiful celebration of a beautiful couple who believe differently than me, but who are entitled to as much happiness within their own lives as they can manage.  I ask again that anyone who reads this try a little harder to be more understanding of those with whom they differ.  Listen and love.

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