Dear Utah

My dear brothers and sisters of Utah, my name is Eric. I live in SLC and would like to ask you a favor. I grew up and was raised as a faithful member of the LDS church. I attended nursery, primary, served several leadership position in young mens, and was eventually married in the Salt Lake Temple. I’m struggling with an adjustable mortgage and the economy’s toll on my job. I am also bisexual.

Many of my neighbors, and I’m sure many of you, felt confusion, and perhaps misapprehension at the massive protest around Temple Square pushing for “Gay Rights.” Please, I ask that you try to understand what’s going on, and why feelings and emotions are so high on this topic. What we are asking for is not a lessening of the value of traditional marriage. We are not asking for you to change your beliefs. We are not asking the LDS or any other church to change its doctrine. We are not even asking you to agree with our beliefs. What we are asking for, is the possibility of being equal citizens, of enjoying the same privileges and civil rights that everyone else has. We are asking that you believe with us that “We the people” means all of us.

There has been a lot of discussion that if same sex marriage was legalized, a church could be sued if it refuses to perform the marriages, but that same concern existed during the civil rights movement, and that never happened.

We don’t hate any church, and we love each and every one of our neighbors here in this great state. Please, recognize that we have the same feelings that you do. We want to be able to express our love for each other in the same way that husbands and wives everywhere do. America has come a long way in such a short time. We recognized that women are equal to men, that people of color are in no way lesser citizens. We recognized that there is nothing wrong with interracial marriage. But there are still steps to take, we haven’t perfected it yet!

We have to come together, right now, as a common people; and say once and for all that we are all equal, that every human being in this beautiful world should enjoy the same rights as everyone else. That no one is better than his neighbors. Please, stand with us. Our rights are your rights.

With all my love,
Eric E.

 

**Copies of this letter have been sent to all local SLC news outlets, as well as to President Monson of the LDS church. PLEASE!! Copy the link to this page down and share it with EVERYONE that you can think of. Together, we can work for a better tomorrow! The link is: https://ethingtoneric.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/dear-utah/

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16 responses to this post.

  1. Registered. Domestic. Partnerships.

    Reply

  2. Posted by ethingtoneric on November 8, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Jesse;

    Your comment was a little vague. Are you advocating domestic partnerships?

    Reply

  3. “What we are asking for, is the possibility of being equal citizens, of enjoying the same privileges and civil rights that everyone else has. We are asking that you believe with us that “We the people” means all of us.”

    I assume you’re talking about California here, right? If that is the case, California has registered domestic partnerships available for same-sex couples. And under California law . . .

    “Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights,
    protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same
    responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they
    derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules,
    government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses” (Family Code 297.5).

    With that being said, equality of rights is obviously not what a lot of advocates for same-sex marriage are going for. Because if they were, well, they’ve already got it.

    God bless.

    Reply

  4. Posted by ethingtoneric on November 8, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Dear Jesse;

    Thank you for your comment! I was not referencing California specifically however, I’m speaking about a national stage. However, even if the country were to have the domestic partnerships that California has, would you call that equal? Very true, that the insurance, medical etc.. is the same. But it still amounts to, “you can sit on the bus, but you can’t sit on the nice seats with us.” This issue is about more than just the tax protection. It’s about all people being equal, and I’m sure that you being a married man (I’m assuming from your blog, forgive me if I’m incorrect) understand that your marriage means more to you than just those benefits. Marriage is about an expression of love, and about what it says to the two individuals and the world.

    This is why I believe in speaking out against this segregation. Again, thank you so much for your comment!

    Reply

  5. This is where I would think that you, as a member (former?) of the LDS Church, that you would understand why the LDS Church does not want to allow that same-sex unions be viewed on equal ground as marriage.

    Simply put, people involved in same-sex unions will not progress in heaven. Why would the Church want to promote these types of unions by placing them on equal ground with traditional marriage?

    Thanks to you also for the forum to discuss this stuff.

    Reply

  6. Posted by ethingtoneric on November 8, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Jesse;

    Just so you know, former member. And you are absolutely correct, according to LDS doctrine, homosexuals (or at least those who embrace homosexuality) will not progress to heaven. I think that one problem I have with that logic though, is that while that is a valid reason for the religion not to encourage or support it, it doesn’t have much to do with the legality of the issue.

    People who are not of the LDS faith will also not progress to heaven (or at least the celestial kingdom) according to church doctrine, however, they are not legally banned from practicing their faith, or lack thereof.

    As I mentioned in the letter, we do not ask that the LDS church, or any other church, agree with us. All we ask for is the equality to have the option to live our lives in the way that we best see fit, and do those things which we believe will bring us the greatest happiness. Which, in the end, is the best thing that anyone could do for themselves, do that which they believe is best.

    Thank you again for your comments, and the politeness you express. Unfortunately not all (and I’m talking about on both sides) express themselves without malice.

    Reply

  7. I guess it all hinges on whether or not one believes if the promotion and legalization of same-sex marriage will adversely affect society or not.

    In the Church, we lay claim to prophets and apostles who are privy to the Lord’s will. Consequently, they have removed all doubt for (most) faithful members that same-sex marriage is a bad thing for society.

    I agree with you about the civility of our conversations . . . it is very encouraging to have respectful conversations.

    Reply

  8. Posted by ethingtoneric on November 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    And right there you have hit on the main argument I think.

    It’s one problem I have with the church (although it’s more with religion in general, not specifically the LDS faith). People follow leaders blindly without thinking for themselves. The church itself teaches that in all things it teaches members should get an answer for themselves, but it’s unfortunate how frequently that doesn’t happen.

    In my opinion, there isn’t a downside to legalizing same sex marriage. These are not individuals who would get married heterosexually if it isn’t made legal, and so many are in committed relationships anyway. What would be the harm in creating so much happiness (not to mention creating millions of loving parents who would love to adopt children, and help relieve the incredibly over-burdened child welfare system)?

    I think it needs to be a much more open conversation, which is why I encourage people to speak out and was thrilled with the protest at temple square last night. There is alot of open resentment and pent up emotion about the Church’s actions, both from outside, and within their own wards. How can they hope to start healing the wounds unless they are willing to actually sit down and have an open dialogue? There was a meeting scheduled between Affirmation (gay mormon group) and President Monson earlier this year, but Mr. Monson canceled it at the last minute. How much could be accomplished if everyone was speaking?

    Reply

  9. Dear Jesse, “Registered domestic partnerships” are not equal to legal marriage. That’s just a fact.

    Simply put, people involved in same-sex unions will not progress in heaven. Why would the Church want to promote these types of unions by placing them on equal ground with traditional marriage?

    What does this argument have to do with the right to civil marriage? It is not the business of the LDS Church, or of any other church, to attempt to make use of the state to impose their religious beliefs on anyone who does not share them. No one is arguing that the LDS church should have to wed same-sex couples in Temple (well, lesbian and gay Mormons might, but that would be their right as your co-religionists to argue that).

    In the Church, we lay claim to prophets and apostles who are privy to the Lord’s will. Consequently, they have removed all doubt for (most) faithful members that same-sex marriage is a bad thing for society.

    And that’s fine so long as it’s restricted to a religious belief without state authority. But no country that supports religious freedom can permit any Church to use the state to impose their religious views on others. There is no secular evidence that the freedom to marry for same-sex couples is anything but good for society – and certainly of course it’s a good for families and children, since it removes the legal discrimination against LGBT families – so there ought to be no state support for the religious belief that it’s somehow a “bad thing” to remove legal discrimination against families and children with same-sex parents.

    Reply

  10. Posted by brain on November 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    It seems to me that the whole business hinges on the meaning of the word “marriage,” and the status of marriage as both a religious and a legal construct. Churches seem to think they “own” the word “marriage.” Very well. Shall we call it “civil partnership” or a “same-sex union” or a “giraffe”? As long as it is equal, in the eyes of the law, to a heterosexual marriage, but isn’t *called* marriage, you’re okay with that? I’ve heard claims that legalizing gay marriage infringes on the rights of religious folk to hold their beliefs. I find it difficult to believe that a phenomenon that occurs wholly outside of your constructed reality somehow impinges on your privilege to hold one belief or another. Stop trying to police the lives of people who don’t agree with you simply because they don’t agree with you. Please.

    Reply

  11. “Why would the Church want to promote these types of unions by placing them on equal ground with traditional marriage?”

    No one is asking the Church to do so.

    “It seems to me that the whole business hinges on the meaning of the word “marriage,” and the status of marriage as both a religious and a legal construct. Churches seem to think they “own” the word “marriage.””

    So true. I think that if religions want so bad to keep the word in the context of their religious definition, then the state should change the legal term and deem all lawful relationships “civil unions” and get the word “marriage” out of our laws altogether.

    And the last and most powerful argument against Prop 8 can be found in the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution:
    “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    Reply

  12. brain: As long as it is equal, in the eyes of the law, to a heterosexual marriage, but isn’t *called* marriage, you’re okay with that?

    No. In the UK, same-sex couples can register civil partnerships, virtually identical to marriage – the key difference is in fact that a civil partnership ceremony *cannot* include any religious elements. The religious right in the UK protest these civil partnerships because they are “gay marriage in all but name”.

    In Utah, the LDS aggressively opposed same-sex couples having the right to register “domestic partnerships”, because they were “gay marriage lite”.

    When the religious right claim they are okay with same-sex couples having the rights of marriage but not the name, they’re lying. They object to LGBT equality activism in states where they already succeeded in passing bans on same-sex marriage. We really shouldn’t pretend that it’s the name of marriage that’s the big issue for this movement: it’s not. It’s equal human rights and equal civil rights for LGBT people that’s their big issue, and they cannot campaign without telling lies.

    Reply

  13. Eric,

    I am a heterosexual married woman living in and from SLC. I am not nor have I ever been LDS but my husband is and while we have different spiritual practices, we see eye to eye on many things, one of which is this issue, AND the decision to be devoutly spiritual but never ever religious. As my husband says often, “it’s between me and God…end of story.” He is no longer a practicing member of the church but knows the book of Mormon and the Bible well. He left the church because even though he believes in a lot of the doctrine he couldn’t stand how the church discriminates. We are both very sad to see this church (and others) taking this kind of stance but are encouraged by the fact that it is SO public and that it is all happening at this point in history. The legal side of this issue stands more potential of finally being resolved with equality now than it ever has before.

    I want to thank you (as others have already) for speaking WITH LOVE and a COMMON GROUND to those who oppose your beliefs. I think that is the only way we will ever gain ground together towards a world where we can peacefully co-exist. I find myself getting ENRAGED and HEATED whenever I see discrimination like this, but I have to watch myself because I know the old adage is true, “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I really do believe that equal rights for everyone is something that we can achieve, and also fairly soon. I think that both the fact that we elected Obama as president AND the fact that Prop 8 has become so public and has gained such momentum are happening at the same time in history is really encouraging to me. Look what we all just did! And look at the numbers and variety of people standing up against this recent discriminatory proposition right now! It’s making me hopeful that MORE CHANGE is coming!

    Something that Obama said during his campaign really struck me:

    “True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.”
    -Barack Obama

    For me, the sacrifice part comes in the form of attending rallys like the one this morning instead of doing my usual lazy Saturday stuff, writing letters to congressmen instead of that other online task I had to accomplish during the ten minutes it took, speaking out with my opinion instead of worrying what clients I may lose because of it. For years I was way too passive when it came to things like this. But I have to say, this recent election and our next president inspired me beyond words! I can NO LONGER be passive. I really can’t. And for years, I was. I now recognize the sacrifices I need to make and I just do it. If I am going to live in this world and expect change, which I do now, I have to share burdens, because if I don’t, then I’m as much a cause of the problem as the LDS folks spewing hatred…truly. But I know Obama is right: if we don’t stop and really listen to each other’s point of view, really learn from each other, we’ll never be able to move forward together. But history has proved that we CAN do it. That true justice CAN happen. And what one of my beloved music professors always said when he’d change our arrangement, yet again…”Remebmer, CHANGE IS GOOD!” But more importantly, it is possible…in fact, right around the corner I think. I can actually feel it in the air.

    Thanks for your blog. It’s great!
    Kait

    Reply

  14. Posted by ethingtoneric on November 15, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Kait;

    Thank you very much for your kind words. You are correct, this is a turning point in history, and if we can get out the right words, nothing can hold us back!

    all my love,
    Eric Ethington

    Reply

  15. Posted by Mari on April 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I have read all your blogs and comments. I am a woman and I was raised a catholic. This whole issue about same sex marriage is crazy, Doesn’t the bible say only God will judge us?? So then why does any church feel the need to go against God, by judgeing others?

    I believe that it shouldn’t matter if you are black, white, purple, gay, lesbian, straight, if you truely love someone that is all that matters. There is so much hatred in this world, it should stop. I think if I remember correctly that religion teaches us to love thy neighbor.

    EVERYONE should have the right to celebrate their love for each other.

    The state should not use a religious belief system to govern the laws, it’s just not right. Even leaving the religious beliefs out of it. Same sex marriage could help improve the economy. Lets look at it like this, here in Florida I believe a marriage liscence is $80.00, (more people able to get married, the more money the state gets). Wedding dresses and tuxedo can range anywhere from $100.00 to thousands of dollars. ( this stimulates retail) Catering and hall rentals, again looking at thousands of dollars (stimulating the food industry) wedding cakes, rings, honeymoons, professional pictures, I just don’t see a downside to this!

    So maybe if the lawmakers of this country got their heads out of the clouds and left out the religios aspect of this and looked at the financial side, maybe the laws would change.

    I know my way of looking at it isn’t very popular, but it is a way of getting people to listen and still get what you want.

    There has been alot of talk about how same sex marriage would be the down fall of society, Haha, Society is so screwed up right now, maybe if you allowed everyone to be equal there wouldn’t be so much violence and hate.

    Good luck. I am on your side.

    Mari

    Reply

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