I ran across this pretty amazing editorial by Brad Carmack today. It was published in the Salt Lake Tribune, the paper of note in Salt Lake City, bastion of Mormon (or LDS, as many Mormons prefer) thought and practice. The church doesn’t have a reputation for being gay-friendly—they notoriously campaigned in California to pass Prop 8. In fact, Carmack himself was an anti-gay marriage crusader:
“Hi, my name is Brad Carmack, calling on behalf of Protect Marriage Maine. Will you vote to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman?”
This was my phone pitch in October of 2009. Calling from Provo, I was a volunteer in the effort to persuade Maine voters to oppose same-sex marriage. The following month the Maine referendum prevailed by 53 percent to 47 percent. Victory!
And certainly, the Mormon church is HUGELY conservative on many things. But I grew up with a bunch of LDS kids, and my impression of them and their religious practice wasn’t of some rigid, hateful doctrine. Out of all the super-religious kids at my school—and there were lots, it’s weird being raised atheist in Texas—the Mormons often struck me as some of the most willing to consider the whys of religion, rather than just being like “them’s the rules.”
As an extremely family-oriented religion, whose followers believe leaving the church means spending the afterlife without the people they love, being gay and Mormon means making a heart-wrenching decision. Either be your true self and leave, or stay and play straight for the rest of your life. I’ve heard lots of stories of gay ex-Mormons wishing the church would reconsider their position, for example on this This American Life episode. Based on the larger principals of LDS doctrine, it just seems like it makes sense to accept gayness and encourage gay marriage in the church.
That is exactly the argument Brad Carmack makes in this editorial:
Now it’s coming up on 2 1/2 years since my anti-same-sex marriage activism and I find myself on the opposite side of the fence. During my last year at Brigham Young University, I risked my diplomas (MPA and JD) by writing and openly distributing a book about same-sex marriage and homosexuality entitled Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective.
As I wrote I discovered the science behind sexual orientation, the social arguments for and against same-sex marriage, and the heart-wrenching stories of gay Mormons. This experience, along with some soul-searching and prayer, eventually convinced me to support same-sex marriage.
Mormonism is unequivocally pro-family. So is same-sex marriage. This is the strongest reason Mormonism can abide gay marriage. To my surprise, I’ve learned that same-sex couples can and do make wonderful parents.
It just…well, it warms my cockles. It’s pretty awesome to be reminded that people CAN change their minds. Maybe there’s hope for us after all.