Some gays will complain about anything | Buzz Blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some gays will complain about anything

Posted By on November 11, 2009, 3:35 AM

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Attention hot-headed gays: The Salt Lake City Council's unanimous approval of an important anti-discrimination ordinance is good news. And the fact that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unexpectedly announced its support of the measure is also good news. ---

Reactions from the anti-gays fell along predictable lines (homosexuality is like prostitution and pornography, gays are a threat to families, it's the end of the world, etc.).

And, of course, LGBT folks were jubilant. For the most part.

Turns out a few of us were a bit surly. A friend of mine shared this comment: "How very big of them in sight of the new expanded federal hate-crimes law passed by Congress and approved by President Obama. Its a day late and a dollar short, or overspent, as the case may be." Others continued to seethe over California's Prop. 8 and speculate about the LDS Church's motives.

So, OK. Michael Otterson's statement cannot make up for church-sponsored campaigns to thwart marriage equality in states such as California, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii. And the spiritual abuse many of us suffered growing up gay and Mormon continues to sting.

But let's look at what's really happened here: At last, Salt Lake City has a law barring employment and job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Until now, there has been little recourse for LGBT people unfairly fired or evicted; with proper enforcement, this law can help prevent these abuses from occurring within city limits. It is a substantive victory for human rights.

Sure, the law would likely have passed even without the endorsement. But the LDS Church's statement may have profound implications.

Why is it so significant? According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, it came after months of secret dialog between gay leaders and LDS officials. Personally, I doubted such meetings would ever amount to anything, but their success may mark a shift in church leadership's perception of LGBT issues.

For decades, religious conservatives have argued that basic civil-rights protections are merely a Trojan horse for sneaky gay activists, whose primary goal is to somehow legally force churches to change doctrines, conduct lesbian weddings and ordain transgender ministers.

Paranoid? Sure. But, when religious conservatives persisted in these accusations, even after the gays explained that we're honestly not interested in promoting a scary governmental takeover of churches, it seemed to some of us that they were not merely grandstanding, but that they'd say anything to thwart gay equality and were engaged in a conspiracy to keep us as second-class citizens and maybe they were trying to take over the government and oh no they're planning to send us to the ovens!

Well, I never said I wasn't paranoid. But, when both sides are locked into a state of intense distrust, there is little hope for progress. Thank heavens cool heads prevailed in this case.

By its statement in support of the anti-discrimination ordinance, the LDS Church may have shown that it has started to understand the goals of the LGBT movement are no threat to religious freedom. No, it hasn't embraced marriage equality. But the dialog is working -- and if this means that there can be a little less fear and paranoia on both sides, that means there is hope for progress.

Happier -- or at least more rational -- days may be in store.

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