Southern Utah GSA’s
Southern Utah GSA’s
Southern Utah GSA’s
A Beautiful, Enchanting, and Moving Experience
1st Annual Southern Utah Equality Celebration – May 21, 2011 @ Coyote Gulch Art Village
Kayenta Desert Community – Ivins, Utah
I am deeply saddened by two more youth suicides in recent days. My heart aches as I search for ways we can eliminate the hopelessness these young people feel. I do know that as we speak out, whatever we say, hopeful or damning, the message gets out.
Although I have been disappointed in the lack of movement toward more equality, I am truly grateful that our President, Barack Obama joined the voices offering hope. LOVE is louder than hate if we will continue to put it out there. It will get better.
In light of the recent epidemic of youth suicides Dan Savage started a you-tube campaign “It Gets Better” in conjunction with The Trevor Project. It has been a beautiful thing to watch so many gay and straight alike, celebrity and unknowns, jump in to support this project. As of this posting there are 892,000 search results for “It Gets Better.” My most recent favorite is posted here.
As a parents, we grieve for every child lost and mourn for every parent dealing with that loss. We commit ourselves again to speak out, to speak up, to let anyone who can hear our words, “It Gets Better!” Hang on.
August 4, 2010. My daughter Amanda’s text said it all: “What a great day to be alive, to be gay, to be a woman, to be human. This feeling inside of me is indescribable! To be equal! WOW!”
Just hours later I saw my son Tyler, with a tear rolling down his cheek, pictured with his husband Spencer on the cover of The Huffington Post with the title “EL8TED!”. The picture was taken as they stood outside the federal courthouse, where Judge Walker’s decision had just been handed down ruling that Proposition 8 — California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — was unconstitutional.
YES! That is exactly what I was feeling, on that historic and triumphant day: elated, ecstatic, jumping for joy! I was filled with renewed hope for my children, their children, and all those to come. As a mother and a grandmother, I believed that all of my children are equally deserving of the rights and protections provided by our government. It was euphoric to have a federal judge, for the first time, validate that, and reach the same conclusion.
My mind reflects back on the emotional ride of the past two years. From the invigorating high of June 17, 2008, when Tyler married Spencer in the San Francisco city hall rotunda with Harvey Milk’s bust looking over his shoulder, to the utter shock, disbelief, and heartbreak of November 5, 2008, when we watched equality be overruled by voters in California motivated by fear and misinformation. The grief I felt due to the loss of the dream of marriage equality for all my children was horrific. In addition, the realization, which quickly came that, my pain was in large part caused by my own Mormon faith, the leaders of which were men I once trusted for all of my guidance and solace, was unbearable. As documented in the recent documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition and elsewhere, Mormon members accounted for as much as 71% of the monetary contributions used to fund Prop 8 and 90% of its volunteers.
Yet today, nearly two years later, I am grateful to the Mormon Church leaders for forcing me to examine what I truly believe in and stand for. Their hurtful acts stirred within me the passion and courage of a mother bear protecting her cubs. It gave me the courage to “come out” of my hiding place, behind church doors, and declare to the world that my family is most important, our values count, and choosing love over fear, children over dogma, and equality over discrimination is what God would have me do.
As people gathered in my small town of St. George, Utah this past week for a rally celebrating the Prop 8 court decision, I was sadly reminded that not many parents stand as firmly by their children. In fact, my husband Steve and I were the only parents in the group of almost 100 people! Thinking back on this, I cannot help asking: “Why? Where are you, parents?” As long as you stay hidden, you leave your children standing alone. If you believe, as I do, that all our children deserve fairness and equal rights, then I beg you to have the courage of your children and show yourselves, your love, and your support.
Full equality will come when we normalize “gay” — normalize gay families, gay marriages, and gay children. Parents who refuse to embrace this part of their child, or choose to ignore it, miss a beautiful world of amazing people full of goodness and love. I know it is not easy. As I have stepped into the rainbow light these past two years, many have rejected me — including family members, business associates, and friends. However, the many new people that have come into my life and encircled me with their love have filled that gap one hundred fold!
The journey for full equality took an exciting step forward with Judge Walker’s ruling to overturn Proposition 8. I believe he arrived at many of his conclusions by witnessing the personal and real life nature of the damage done to families by society’s refusal to afford equal treatment to our gay and lesbian children.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to put out this plea: parents, join this march for equality. I ask you to put a human face on this movement. Share who your children are with your friends, your co-workers, your siblings, with everyone. When you hear derogatory comments about gay or lesbian people, or the rampant propaganda and misinformation that are out there regarding them, all you need to say is, “I have a gay son or a lesbian daughter. If you knew them, you would love them.” It is that simple.
Linda is a former fifth generation Mormon, who with her husband Steve, started MomsForEquality.com or DadsForEquality.com to encourage parents to “come out” and be vocal on behalf their children’s rights. She refers to herself as an “accidental activist” and is featured with her family in the recent documentary film 8: The Mormon Proposition, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance film festival.
We are amazed at how powerful FoxNews.com makes Linda sound, a mom standing up for her kids, in this article.
Be sure to check out the venomous comments about Linda by Fox News readers. We keep looking for one by Glen Beck. Add one of your own!
We love who you are,
Steve & Linda
By Hollie McKay
Published July 16, 2010
Linda Stay joined forces with filmmaker Reed Cowan to detail the prominent role the Mormons played in the reinstatement of Prop 8 in the new documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition.”
Following a lengthy investigation, California’s Fair Political Practices Commission ordered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints last month to pay a $5,539 fine for failing to accurately report $37,000 in contributions to the victorious effort to pass Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in California in 2008.
One of the key figures behind exposing the Church was Linda Stay, whose ancestor was a founding member. But Stay parted ways with the Church in 2008, and later joined forces with filmmaker Reed Cowan to detail the prominent role the Mormons played in the reinstatement of Prop 8 in the new documentary “8: The Mormon Proposition”, which is narrated by Oscar-winning “Milk” writer, Lance Dustin Black.
“The documents we exposed really started a lot of activity; I believe that certainly the film did play a part in bringing to light what the Church did. Audiences have been shocked – members of the Church knew it was involved in so many ways, but they had no idea about the extent of the involvement,” Stay, who has a gay son and lesbian daughter as well as seven other children, told Pop Tarts. “I hope this sends a message loud and clear.”
A spokesperson for the Mormon Church said they had not seen the film.
“We have not seen ‘8: The Mormon Proposition.’ However, judging from the trailer and background material online, it appears that accuracy and truth are rare commodities in this film,” Kim Farah, a representative for the LDS Church told us. “Clearly, anyone looking for balance and thoughtful discussion of a serious topic will need to look elsewhere.”
In their defense, the LDS Church stated that the violations were unintentional and that the Church mistakenly overlooked the daily reporting requirement and instead reported those contributions together in a later filing.
Cowan initially intended to make a documentary on the issue of gay homelessness and suicide in Utah, but soon realized that, in his opinion, the homophobia that propels otherwise loving parents to kick their teens out of home is deeply entrenched in Mormon ideology. He and Stay have also sought to illuminate what they believe to be hypocrisy embedded in the Church’s act of funneling money in the campaign to fight the legalization of same sex marriage.
“As a Mormon, I knew the Church’s stand on homosexuality,” Stay said. “We weren’t expecting them to change that, but for them to aggressively promote and create ads preaching that religions would lose their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, that they would have to marry gays in their temples, swayed the whole proposition.”
After a limited theatrical release, “8” was released on DVD this week, and Stay is now urging Mormons to stand up to the Church and its strong stance against marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
But, not surprisingly, a number of members are less-than-impressed with the documentary.
“The director has certainly received some hate mail,” Stay said. We’ve received some derogatory statements from people. And that’s to be expected.”
But negative feedback is no deterrent for Stay, who has set up her own website MomsForEquality.com and is in the process of writing a book in the quest for “spiritual equality” across the entire nation.
The people at MormonsForMarriage.com have been doing an amazing job of providing documentation for the Mormon referenced content of the film 8: The Mormon Proposition. Many of the links take you to the very detailed writings of Connell O’Donovan.
You will find all this information very beneficial as you share the documentary with active Mormons.
Here are a couple of their post:
Folks watching 8:The Mormon Proposition for the first time this week have been coming up with questions and concerns about the movie’s claims. Here’s a little bit of fact checking and contextualization for those of you looking for it.
Satellite Broadcast Training
Reed Cowan begins this movie with clips from a satellite broadcast which originally aired October 8, 2008 from Salt Lake City to every stake center in California. He uses a (probably) surreptitious audio recording of the broadcast, so the audio is not great. It is accurate, however, and the text is subtitled for ease of viewing. A transcript of the whole meeting can be found here. The video for these clips is based on the short video clips once publicly available from the church’s website, www.lds.org and www.preservingmarriage.org. Since the officially available video clips did not include much of what Cowan used in his movie, he elected to use clips of the video, edited to obscure the details, as background for the audio quotes he wanted to include. The visual effect is a bit ominous.
“Secret” Documents and Hawaii
A good portion of the early part of the movie includes references to LDS Church documents received by Fred Karger. The documents are correspondence between Elder Loren C. Dunn and several other LDS General Authorities. Elder Dunn served in the LDS Area Presidency for the North America Northwest Area, which included California and Hawaii in the mid-1990s when the LDS Church involved itself in Hawaii’s same-sex marriage struggles. Church involvement in this campaign has been documented here and in The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power by historian D. Michael Quinn. Karger’s documents expand on what was already known and provide even more depth and details of the Church’s Public Affairs Committee actions. Documents cited in the movie include the documents here.
Mormon Financial Contributions
Karger suggests that individual Mormons donated 70% of the money contributed to the Protect Marriage coalition. [Other sites here and here don’t attribute quite that much to LDS donors, but neither do they say their information is complete or exhaustive. Karger hints that some of those he identified as being LDS were people who (a) contributed to Mormon Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and (b) sent in large sums of money to the Protect Marriage coalition after the First Presidency letter was read in Sacrament Meetings across California at the end of June, 2008. Notations about BYU attendance were also likely indications that donors were Mormon as well. And, in reality, Mormons are not particularly quiet about their religious affiliations online – they talk about wards and stakes and Relief Society and FHE and home teaching/visiting teaching and callings on a regular basis, so it’s not too hard to identify them.
Total donation information can be found at the California Secretary of State’s page, and Mormonsfor8.com includes a breakdown of donations by state, indicating that the majority of donations came from California residents.
There were special PO Boxes for receiving LDS donation forms to the Protect Marriage coalition. Forms from the general public were sent to P.O. Box 162657, Sacramento, CA and those from LDS members were sent to P.O. Box 819, Placentia, CA. Assessments were made for stakes, as had been done in Hawaii and previously in California during Prop 22. Individual members were contacted with suggested donations as was done in this blog post.
Certainly the Church knows how much its members gave, and if the media reports were way over the top and completely inaccurate, the Church could certainly provide correct numbers. Thus far, it has not.
Church Discipline and Excommunications
While it’s possible that one or two members may have been directly threatened with church discipline as strict as formal excommunication or loss of salvation when they were asked to donate, the vast majority of potential member donors did not receive overt, explicit pressure like that. Many were told that donations to support Proposition 8 should be given the same importance as tithing (which is necessary to pay in order for a member to be worthy to enter the temple). Many were told that supporting Proposition 8 was the same thing as supporting the prophet (implying that non-support of the initiative was the same as non-support of the prophet).
More than a few members were subject so some form of ecclesiastical pressure regarding their involvement (or lack thereof) in the campaign. Several had temple recommends revoked and others were unable to get renewed recommends. Others were released from callings within the church, and others were asked to stop speaking out against the proposition if they wanted to continue to serve in callings. Some members resigned from callings on their own, or turned down callings, citing their lack of support for the Church’s actions during the campaign.
There is no doubt that members were given a not-so-subtle message that supporting Proposition 8 was a righteous, obedient and holy thing they needed to do as good members of the Church. As ecclesiastical leaders hold the ability to judge whether their adherents are worthy of eternal salvation or not, those leaders must be very, very careful what they ask of their followers. When using this lever to move the Saints, Church leaders need not exert much effort at all before members are enthusiastically picking up the banner and moving forward with gusto.
National Organization for Marriage
Karger suggests that the National Organization for Marriage is a Mormon-instigated and/or controlled “front group” to fight SSM across the nation, much like Hawaii’s Future Today or Save Traditional Marriage-’98 were when they were created in Hawaii. Certainly, Matthew Holland is LDS and was one of the early founders of the group. It’s also no secret that Mormon author Orson Scott Card is now serving as Holland’s replacement on the NOM Board. The jury is still out on the details of Mormon involvement in NOM, but it’s clear that Proposition 8 would not have gotten onto California’s ballot without NOM’s involvement.
Electroshock Therapy at BYU
The film discusses electroshock therapy at BYU a couple of decades ago, and a more complete account may be found here.
Gay Suicides and Stuart Matis
Stuart Matis committed suicide at an LDS church building in Los Altos, California, in March 2000, just before Californians voted on Proposition 22, the predecessor to Prop 8. Information about his suicide has been discussed here and here.
In a couple more days, we’ll examine some more things like accounts about:
About half way through 8:The Mormon Proposition, a handful of quotes attributed to Mormon church leaders fade on to and off of the screen. Were the quotes accurate? Were they taken in context? Were they recent or ancient? You decide. There are a couple of quotes missing, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging while I found time to grab the info on them:
“How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. The only way is… for the Lord to wipe them out.” – George Q. Cannon, Mormon Apostle
George Quayle Cannon was the First Counselor in the First Presidency when he uttered those words at the October 1897 General Conference. The background for the whole quote included below describing how “a man” in England was known to be author Oscar Wilde can be found at this link which is a revised and expanded version of an article written by Connell O’Donovan, “‘The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’: A Brief History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980”, Brent Corcoran (ed.), Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), pp. 144-5
“Homosexuality is an ugly sin. Repugnant, like adultery and incest and beastiality (sic), they carry the death penalty under mosaic (sic) law.” – Spencer W. Kimball, Mormon prophet
This quote is from the oft-cited book, Miracle of Forgiveness written by Spencer W. Kimball in 1969 before he was the President of the Church. As he was an apostle at the time, however, church members sustained and viewed him as a “prophet, seer and revelator.” Although it is now more than 40 years old, it continues to be used and quoted from in Church materials and lesson manuals, although much of the harshest language has been toned down or not referred to. Edward Kimball, son and biographer of Spencer Kimball, was interviewed in a podcast in March 2010 and discussed the realization that, “We achieve more by a soft word rather than we do by the harsh.”
The full quote in context is from Chapter 6, Crime Against Nature. (Other “ugly sins” in the book include fornication, (unwed) pregnancy and abortion.)
Homosexual abominations are fast becoming the way of life among the wicked ungodly. – Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Apostle
Elder McConkie said these words in the October, 1980 General Conference (as reported in the November 1980 Ensign, p. 50). He is perhaps most well-known for writing the now-out-of-print book, Mormon Doctrine. Until recently nearly every manual and study guide in the Church had at least one quote from that book, despite the fact that it is was not every an official study guide created by a unanimous vote of Church leaders.
Gays have a problem. – Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Prophet
Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley made this statement during an interview with Larry King on CNN on December 26, 2004.
We have been on a whirlwind tour with 8: The Mormon Proposition to Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City
and tomorrow, San Francisco for the screening on June 18th. The response has been remarkable. The press is very interested with the timing of the ruling against the LDS Church and the resumption of the federal case on Proposition 8 it appears the universe has a mission for this film.
The most asked question at film festival Q&A sessions is “What can we do now?”
If we are going to hold the Mormon Church and other religions accountable, we must share this information exposed in this film. Knowledge is power. We hear it again and again, “I had no idea this was happening.” Voters need to be educated. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage. The fact that a powerful coalition was able to sway a vote and stay completely anonymous should be illegal and is certainly unethical.
Join the Facebook Event page and commit to sharing 8: The Mormon Proposition. Start planning to personally share this film with those closest to you, and talk about it afterwards! See it together at the theater or in your homes through Video on Demand starting June 18th. Please share your ideas and results. It is creating dialogue that leads to understanding which leads to change. Change is good!
Here are some festivals “8: The Mormon Proposition” is playing at before the theatrical release on June 18th:
Saturday, May 29 at 7:15pm
Sunday, May 30 at 12:30pm
Sunday, May 30, 2010, 3:00pm
Friday, June 4th, 7pm
Saturday, June 5, 5:30pm
Monday, June 7, 7:00 pm
Thursday, June 10, 8pm
Friday, June 11 at 7:30pm
Friday, June 18, 7:00pm
Thursday, June 17th noon
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