Big news today. The church made a statement about the gay rights movement and asserted that it will support legislation for...wait for it...no discrimination against LGBT people in employment or housing.
What a magnanimous gesture.
Elder Christofferson, who spoke first, started things off by introducing the theory that freedom of religion and gay rights are somehow mutually exclusive. But then he made a very generous claim that "such basic human rights as securing a job or a place to live should not depend upon a person's sexual orientation." Great. But why not include marriage and the legal benefits of marriage in there? That shouldn't depend on a person's sexual orientation either.
Then Sister Marriott, the token female speaker whose name sounds suspiciously like Mormon royalty, got up to basically remind everyone that Mormons still think gay sex is wrong.
Then Elder Oaks, a legal professional and former Utah Supreme Court justice, began to grace us all with his expertise. "Since 1791," he said, "the guarantees of religious freedom embodied in the First Amendment have assured all citizens that they may hold whatever religious views they want and that they are free to express and act on those beliefs so long as they do not endanger public health or safety."
It's interesting that he would bring up the First Amendment. Because the First Amendment guarantees that citizens have the right to "free exercise" of their religion. That means that Oaks can believe Joseph Smith wasn't a horny con-man all he wants. But it doesn't give him the right to deny some gay guy a marriage license just because what the gay guy is doing offends his religious sensibilities. Gay people getting married despite the fact that some religious people think it's disgusting is not something that's prohibited in the Constitution of the United States.
"Accusations of bigotry toward people simply because they are motivated by their religious faith and conscience," Oaks continued, "have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and public debate. When religious people are publicly intimidated, retaliated against, forced from employment, or made to suffer personal loss because they've raised their voice in a public square, donated to a cause or participated in an election, our democracy is the loser."
Really? You make it sound like religious people have it worse in this country than LGBT people. Besides, accusations of bigotry toward people simply because blah blah blah is free speech. You can't complain that someone else is exercising a right to free speech while pretending to defend the right to free speech. If we truly have the freedom of expression, you should be allowed to say hateful, bigoted stuff and I should be allow to call you on it. That's exactly how it's supposed to work!
He continued: "Such tactics are every bit as wrong as denying access to employment, housing or public services because of race or gender." I think it's very telling that he doesn't include "sexual orientation" here. In a press conference that seemed like it was supposed to address issues of LGBT rights, it sure seems like Oaks is making it all about religious rights. While I agree that these are complex issues and that there are times when religious rights are infringed upon by individuals and government entities...let's not forget who can't even get married in 13 states. It seems like such callous hypocrisy for four straight white people to publicly complain about the "erosion" of their rights while discussing LGBT subjects in the same breath.
Elder Holland was the cleanup hitter. "Nothing is achieved," he reiterated, "if either side resorts to bullying, political point-scoring, or accusations of bigotry." Yeah, you should totally tell your people to stop accusing gay rights supporters of bigotry, because I bet that happens a lot. But seriously, maybe if you weren't a bigot you wouldn't be called one so much. I think that word can achieve something in this case, because it's not just name-calling...it's telling it like it is. If we can't get people to confront the realities of the situation (like how there's bigotry and stuff), how can we be expected to solve our problems?
I think the church felt that their news conference was some badass display of political muscle in furtherance of their objectives.
But what these four speakers were really doing was trying to appease the seemingly inevitable advances of LGBT rights and complaining that the church isn't getting its way.
They took a statement about LGBT rights and they made it all about themselves and their own perceived problems. And they argued in favor of their own free expression at the expense of others'.
Awesome. Despicable. Hilariously pathetic.