US civil rights law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of characteristics such as race and gender. Prohibited discrimination can take the form of disparate treatment or disparate impact. Disparate treatment is easy to spot: it is simply treating members of different groups differently. For example, an employer who refuses to hire women would be liable under disparate treatment. Disparate impact is typically more difficult to see. It arises when a test or procedure the employer uses has the effect of discriminating against members of one group versus another. An employer who gives applicants a speech test that is scored by software that picks up lower pitches better than higher pitches might be liable under disparate impact, as women would likely perform worse on the test. (Employers are allowed to discriminate, though, if they can show that the characteristic they are using to select employees is a requirement to do the job.)
I think the concepts of disparate treatment and disparate impact are useful for talking about how the Church discriminates. In using these terms, I’m not suggesting that members are like employees; I’m just borrowing the terms to have an easy way to refer to different types of discrimination.
Hi. You don’t know me, but I got into an argument with you this morning on Facebook. I don’t usually do that—one of my resolutions is in fact not to argue with strangers on social media, because I think it’s easier to demonize and dismiss people when you don’t know them, when they’re only friends of friends (if even that). And Facebook arguments in general seem to just go back and forth and leave everyone even more deeply entrenched in their positions.
But I jumped in anyway, because I was so troubled by what you said. Troubled by the content of it, for sure, but also by the reality that your views are shared by many, many members of the church. Troubled enough that I wanted to respond. I left the Facebook argument because I quickly realized that nothing I said would make any difference. But I find myself still want to say something, to see how well I can do at explaining where I’m coming from. I don’t expect that I’m going to convince you to agree with me, but I’m wondering if we can do better than reciting talking points at each other. Continue reading
It’s been a month now, since the church’s November 5th policy changes. It’s been a pretty awful month—in the church and in the broader world. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so discouraged about my country, and its enthusiasm for guns and xenophobia. And I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so discouraged about my church. Continue reading
The For the Strength of Youth booklet makes a good point about agency:
While you are free to choose your course of action, you are not free to choose the consequences. Whether for good or bad, consequences follow as a natural result of the choices you make.
There have been a couple of notable instances recently of Church leaders appearing to not believe in this connection between their own choices and consequences of those choices.
On the Mormons and Gays website, Elder Cook is quoted as saying this:
“As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender.”
That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, talk is cheap. Especially when you make policies like excommunicating gay members for getting married, and barring their children from being blessed or baptized. Then that kind of stamps baloney on all the nice and conciliatory things you might have said.
I want to start with this great quote (from this post), one I go back to over and over and over again:
Because listen – here’s the thing. After my wrestling match with God, I wasn’t really exhausted enough. I still came up swinging. For a little while, I felt angry. Angry at anyone who had a different understanding of scripture than I did. Angry at people who taught that God disapproved of homosexuality. Prideful about my position, really. And then one day God sat my butt down with the Bible again.
And he said something to me like, “Wait a minute, Lovie. Yes, I love those gays, but I love the ones picketing against them every bit as much. That’s the point.”
And There’s the rub. There’s Christianity. It’s not deciding that one group shouldn’t be judged and then turning around and judging the other group. That is not being a peacemaker. Peacemakers resist categorizing people. They find the light, the good, in each and every person. They don’t try to change people, except by example. They know everyone has something important to teach. They are humble about their ideas and their opinions. They try to find common ground, always.
One of the doctrinal situations in the church that many feminists (and even some non-feminists) find particularly challenging is our lack of knowledge about Heavenly Mother. We know that she exists—this has been reiterated by a recent gospel topics essay—but, troublingly, we are not allowed to pray to her or worship her. I’ve personally blogged about the topic a couple of times—once about why I don’t want to believe in her (because she’s silent and subordinate), and once about why I do (because I want to believe that women are equal in the eternities). Every time this topic gets discussed, I encounter women sharing the deep desire to have a connection not just to an eternal father, but to a mother as well. It’s not good enough just to have a father, they say; we also need the influence of a mother in our lives.
It is worth noting, however, that these kinds of arguments are exactly those being made against same-sex marriage. Children need opposite-sex parents. It’s not enough to have just a father (or a mother)—they need the influence of the opposite sex as well.
In the Church’s Newsroom statement a couple of weeks ago where they expressed dismay at the BSA’s vote to start allowing gay scout leaders, there was the following puzzling line:
[T]he admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church
I’m trying to figure out which Church doctrines are being referred to here. I’m not even concerned with the virtually impossible task of nailing down exactly what subset of prophetic statements, scriptures, talks, teachings, manuals, or whatever constitute Church doctrine. Even casting a wide net and using a broad definition of what qualifies as doctrine, I’m having a hard time figuring out what Church teachings forbid having gay scout leaders.
It makes the most sense for Mormon theology if gay people don’t really exist. Continue reading
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!
For seven years I home taught a gay man. Despite numerous invitations during that time, he only came to church twice–once to wish me a happy birthday and once when I gave a talk in sacrament meeting. He regularly prayed for my family, spoiled my kids with Key lime pie and toy frogs, and treated me to his favorite Mexican restaurant–El Toro. I helped him repair his leaky roof and foolishly pushed his 1991 Toyota pickup to the mechanic at 2am (with my car!) because neither of us could afford a tow. Two days before he died of a heart attack at the age of 59, he confessed to me that he had finally met the love of his life, a kind, affirming man from Germany. At that last visit together my friend theatrically lifted up his shirt while sticking out his chest and sucking in his gut to show my daughter and I how much weight he had lost with his latest diet. We laughed, not knowing he would soon be gone.
How has the Church’s view on homosexuality changed over time? In a post at T&S last year, Kaimi gave an overview of some of the major changes, and summarized them as follows:
Over the course of the past three decades, the church’s stance has evolved from virulently anti-gay and homophobic, to its current soft-heterosexist approach of “love the gays, hate the gayness.” It is a limited sort of shift, as the changes have largely involved rhetoric and attitude, while many of the underlying church doctrines have remained relatively constant.
I haven’t systematically examined Church statements about women, but I think there may be a similar change going on in this area. My impression is that it used to be that women had their own roles and their own sphere and that’s just how it was, but now there are General Authorities reassuring women at every turn that they’re incredible and important. But like the change in views on homosexuality, like Kaimi said, it’s been mostly in rhetoric and not much in practice. Borrowing Kiskilili and Eve’s term, it could be called “chicken change.”
Of the nine plays I (originally) found that met my criteria, I think it’s no accident that almost half of them have premiered since 2008. Whatever the tensions were between the LDS Church and the gay and lesbian community before that year, the heated battle over California’s Proposition 8 has increased them exponentially. Whether or not any of these plays was written specifically because of or in response to those events, the environment of anger and resentment must have been on the minds of anyone with ties to either community, let alone to both. Continue reading
Banging the Bishop: Latter Day Prophecy, by Dustin B. Goltz
Goltz was raised as a Reformed Jew, but became Mormon as a young man when missionaries came to his door. As a Mormon, he felt that he could be a good person who had a mission in life and divine potential. Also, he was told that his homosexuality was a result of excessive masturbation, and he would be welcomed into heaven if he’d stop. He couldn’t. And he didn’t stop being attracted to men, so he eventually decided he didn’t belong in the Mormon heaven, and he left. Continue reading
Note: I originally intended to make this all one post, then realized that it was over 3,000 words long, so I’m splitting the topic into multiple posts.
A few weeks ago, I learned that a friend of mine is raising money to stage a production of Melissa Leilani Larson’s Little Happy Secrets next year. The play is about a lesbian Mormon who is trying to reconcile her sexuality with her faith. (It’s really unfair of me to condense such a thoughtful and nuanced play into a one-sentence summary. I promise I’ll say more about it later, or you can read about it and their fundraising efforts here.) It was staged last year in Provo, but Dave Mortensen (my friend) and Melissa would like to put on a larger production in Salt Lake City.
I decided that I wanted to write a blog post about plays by Mormons with gay and lesbian Mormon characters, both as a way of helping to draw attention to Little Happy Secrets and because of the topicality of how the Mormon community and the GLBT community interact. Continue reading