SACRED GROUND Meeting Recap

sutherlandTonight I attended the Sutherland Institute’s “Sacred Ground” kickoff meeting. For those not familiar, this is the newly formed opposition to Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative. This post is mostly going to read like a journal I fear, as there is a lot of information to get through.

To start off, the “gays” were the first ones to arrive at Thanksgiving Point, standing in line in the cold waiting to get in. Once the doors opened, we were shepherded into a long thin tent leading up to the main doors, inside of which was a table to sign in, and about 8 security guards. It was a notable difference from Equality Utah’s “Common Ground Initiative” kickoff event, which was an open-to-the-public, media and all-welcome event. To actually get in, you had to have previously registered with the Sutherland Institute, including providing your home address and email, although they didn’t tell you until afterwards that you were signing up to receive regular mail from them.

Deciding that opposite opinions were not welcome, the Sutherland Institute sent out an email to many of the prominent gay activist leaders in the community (Jacob Whipple and Michael Mueller) in the hours prior to the event letting them know they and their groups were no longer welcome to attend. This went so far as the young man who checked me in apologized for the extra security, saying, “there are supposed to be a lot of bad people trying to get in tonight, so we’re being very careful.” To enforce this decree, they pulled the list of attending people from Facebook, and listed them as banned from the event. Many people, not aware of this change, were actually forcibly removed from the event. Rebecca Huggins, a local single mom who registered well in advance, attempted to sign in with the registration people. Watching closely, she saw them scan down to her name, note a check mark next to it, then was asked to speak to the security guard. “He said I needed to leave immediately,” Rebecca said, “then he grabbed me by the elbow and attempted to escort me out.” Rebecca, who was there not to protest, but to listen and see what the Sutherland Institute had to say, was shocked and in tears after her ill-treatment.

Once inside, the 9 of us who made it in were kept under an intense watch Sutherland’s gestapo (what my Mom called them 🙂 ) to ensure that we didn’t cause any problems. And having an hour to kill before it actually started, I decided to talk to every single person around me. It was interesting, but every person I talked to, without exception, was actually for the rights the Common Ground Initiative stands for, namely the Fair Workplace and Housing Bill. Several commented that they couldn’t believe that was still legal [firing or evicting based on sexual orientation alone], and would definitely support those rights.

The actual meeting kicked off with an opening prayer (I’ll admit, atmosphereshelly-locke1 was identical to an LDS General Conference), and Shelly Locke (snidely compared to a Steppford Wife by someone nearby) welcomed everyone there. There were 3 speakers, Paul T. Mero, Representative LaVar Christensen, and Lauralyn B. Swim.

Paul’s topic was “Marriage, Family, and Freedom.” He began by telling of the paul-merotwo great revolutions in history that stuck out in his mind, the American Revolution, and the French. “One of these revolutions went on to create the greatest nation in the world,” Paul stated, “while the other lasted only a short period… This is because of what the revolutions were founded on.. The French Revolution was built on liberty foreign to the natural man… that every person was born of natural and civil rights. While the American Revolution was built on the idea of inherited rights..that we do not invent freedom, we are given them by God.” He went on to explain that political freedom comes from what we ought to do, not from what we want to do, and Gay Marriage will make family’s rights disappear. Paul even had some pictures with him, and while showing a building in various stages of construction, likened it to the foundation of families. Straight families stand firm on good foundations, while gay families fall. Paul also explained to the crowd that “knowledge and reason are what seperates us from animals,” and, “we must always remember where we came from, and what we are here for so we can be better people.”

Next up was LaVar Christensen, who spoke on, “A Principled Approach to lavarSame-Sex Politics.” LaVar went into detail about the rights that are given in this country, and stated that, “secularism is stripping rights of their eternal implications.” According to LaVar, “We do not make laws, we merely distort and twist God’s laws,” so we must do all we can to correct that. LaVar continued on a more light-hearted tone, getting a laugh out of the crowd when stating that some people think that it is wrong for the majority to vote on a minority’s rights. “That the [LDS] Church supports any of these rights is lunacy.”

Lauralyn Swim didn’t have much too add, but rather praised the previous two speakers, and explaining that, “this is against those who have decided to cast aside the wisdom of the ages…for we are the Defenders of freedom, protectors of liberty and guardians of virtue.”

All in all, the only topic heard all night was Gay Marriage. Over and over it was flaunted as the stain on the Earth, and completely and irrevocably immoral and wrong. What was most noticeably lacking, was there was not one mention of a single bill in the Common Ground Initiative. Not once did they elaborate on how protecting people’s jobs and housing was going to bring on Gay Marriage.

It truly seems, that all these people can think of to do is scare people with a future topic, and hope they don’t pay attention to today’s issues. For if they do, it’s already been shown that these rights are the will of the majority of the state.

P.S. Quotes may not be absolutely perfect (hard to write so fast!). However no meanings or intent have been changed, and there has been no significant changes in wording.

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91 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dominique on February 6, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I think they really meant SCARED Ground, not sacred. Creating fear through half truths and lies is literally an act of terror. I think the Sutherland Institute is a terrorist organization.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Rebecca Huggins on February 6, 2009 at 12:50 am

    I am still perplexed by tonight’s sequence of events…I wanted to attend this meeting to learn about the Sutherland Institute’s Sacred Ground Initiative. The Common Ground Initiative has provided literature clearly stating their goals, bills, and reasoning. I hoped to gain an equivalent presentation of information tonight, so I carefully followed the directions to RSVP to this event. I emailed it in last week, then called yesterday to confirm I was on the RSVP list. I was told that indeed I was, she had just processed my email, as a matter of fact! So off I went, conscientiously carpooling to Lehi. I was very disturbed by the manner in which I was man-handled, literally ‘pushed around’, and forced to leave. Perhaps the security guard did not represent the feelings and intentions of the Sutherland Institute. However, his manner was threatening, unnecessary, demeaning, and a form of violence. I was happy to comply, but perplexed at my reneged RSVP, and appalled at my treatment. Thank you, Eric, for being there…for taking such good notes so you could share with us!

    Reply

  3. Great story! Glad you were there.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Kate on February 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I’m glad you got in to the ‘sacred’ meeting and talk to people in a loving way about what the Common Grounds initiative is actually about. I really admire what you’re doing and look forward to Valentines Day!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Paul Mero on February 6, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Your characterizations are interesting. What’s really cool, in this day and age, is that we have technology to share our program…so you’re lucky!! We’ll post it online for all to see and then they can compare your characterizations with reality.

    Of course, the personal characterizations are their own about how someone was treated. Those who sign up to “protest and infiltrate” anything, I suppose, reasonably wouldn’t be welcome by the anything. Right?

    I find your characterizations curious on many levels, not the least of which is that you and yours feel some “right” to enter a private meeting on private property. The meeting was “open” to the public at our discretion as the host. I wonder why that is an unusual thing for you all? Certainly, as host, we seek to ensure the well-being of our guests.

    All we had to go on was your “protest and infiltrate” effort. That was your doing, not ours.

    Anyway, be careful about all of the “secret” events. It’ll all be on online for the world to see.

    Oh well.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Paul Mero on February 6, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    BTW, the “bad people” comment is probably a fabrication. I don’t work with people who speak that way…or who would even say that at all.

    But, of course, anyone can claim anything. (Hey, I know, maybe one of those “bad people” snuck a hidden camera into the meeting and can post video…or audio…of the person saying those words!)

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 2:08 am

      Hello Paul;

      Thank you for your comments. I’m a little confused at your question of “characterizations.” Would you not agree with my statements that not one of the Common Ground Bills were mentioned the entire evening? Instead you chose to focus the event on the issue of Gay Marriage. Now I understand that we are on opposite sides of that particular issue, and although I disagree with you, I completely respect your right to believe it. However, what so many Utahns take offense at is how your group uses fear of some imaginary future bill (I say imaginary because in Utah Amendment 3 stands firmly in the way of Gay Marriage) to oppose current legislation. I would love to hear Sutherland’s opinion on how protecting Utah citizens from being fired or evicted from their homes will lead to Gay Marriage.

      Second point is on your barring of some citizens of attending. This may surprise you, but I completely understand why you did it. You wanted to ensure not only public safety, but also that civility and respect ensued during your event. But I cannot understand how you could justify “infiltrating” a facebook page, and barring all of those who had indicated they wanted to attend, for if you had read the description of that groups’ page, you would have seen that they were constantly pushing for complete civility. No one wanted a scene at this event, least of all Jacob Whipple, Michael Mueller or any others from “our side.” You also must admit the stark differences between Equality Utah, who held an open event to both public and media, and Sutherland Inst. who held a closed door, closed media (you did not allow members of “opposition media” like Q magazine in) event. I’m curious as to why you were so opposed to civilly put, opposing views.

      Lastly, although I wish I could tell you the “bad people” remark was a fabrication, it unfortunately is not. Now the young man who made the comment to me while checking people in was speaking off the cuff, but it still reflected on the common themes and feelings that surrounded your event.

      Thanks again for the comments, I hope to hear from you again.

      Reply

  7. Hey Eric, thanks for this account.

    I think Dominique is spot on. This whole event and its organization (raving about “God’s law”) sounds and looks like this is the Christain version of the Taliban, to wit:

    “We do not make laws, we merely distort and twist God’s laws,” so we must do all we can to correct that.

    These people do not want civil law, they want “God’s Law”. (likened to the “Sharia”).

    Also, Mero is incorrect in the principles regarding the founding of this country. The preamble to the constitution states that

    “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator “(not “God” as Mero alludes – to an atheist, this might mean their parents) “with certain unalienable rights”.

    Finally, what about the LDS article #11 in the articles of faith regarding the right of pursuing their worship the way they want (religious freedom) and also acknowledges the right of others to pursue their own religious freedom?

    I too respect the rights of EVERYONE to believe in what they want – and WITHOUT persecution. This whole event and the driving forces behind it smack of hypocrisy to the max.

    Reply

  8. […] I hope other authors here at OneUtah will feel free to append this post. Eric Etherlington’s Weblog provides an excellent recap of the Sacred Ground Meeting this week, organized by the Sutherland […]

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  9. Let me translate –

    Paul Mero – “The meeting was “open” to the public at our discretion as the host. I wonder why that is an unusual thing for you all?”

    IMHO he means – When we pretend to be Christian, but step away from the ministry and teachings of Christ, wrapping ourselves in a very un-Christlike intolerance, we’d prefer to be surrounded by our own kind. I mean, come on, how many black folks do you see at a klan rally? Am I right? High fives!

    ___

    I find what people do, in the name of religion, especially my religion, pretty disgusting sometimes. If Christ came to the Earth to set right all the things that people were doing wrong, why do modern Christians feel compelled to return to the practices and beliefs that existed BEFORE Jesus hit the reset button.

    I know Paul a little bit, and I find him intelligent and entertaining. I don’t think he’d ever approve of a lynch mob attack on anybody, for any reason. I really don’t. I think that, I HOPE that, he’s blissfully ignorant of the historical consequences of fear/religion messaging. It sometimes goes out of control, and when it does, it’s an ugly, ugly thing.

    I still want an answer to HOW letting every one have equal rights will destroy the American family.

    I want an answer as to how letting a partner sue for wrongful death will destroy the institution of marriage.

    I want an answer to how a civil union, hospital rights and the right to work without being fired because you’re different is so un-American.

    I still want someone to show me where Jesus says it’s ok to ignore everything he taught when it comes to gays.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Ron Hunt, Salt Lake City Utah on February 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I read the response from Mr. Mero (regardling the Sacred Ground kick off meeting) and remain unconvinced that Rebecca and Eric’s experiences at the meeting were different than their recollection. I do find it fascinating that part of the evidence used as rebuttal of the quote “we were told to expect some bad people” is “I would not work with people who say that.” This strikes me as being typical of how disconnected leaders or influencers can be from their followers.
    It is unfortunate that the word family (which I think means biological or adopted relatives) has become the concept ‘Family ‘with one simplistic description and implied universal acceptance by all reasonable, moral beings. There is no single image of what can constitute a family, there are simply variations and patterns. To purport that ‘family’ is threatened by non-heterosexualness implies that if all not for the religious sanctions, hordes of heterosexuals would leap into homosexual behaviors thus ruining the familial bond. The same corruption of religion and religious freedom evolved in the 70’s and flourishes today. Christianity supposes that all non-Christians are on the wrong track. On any given issue the various sides focus on the definition of the issue which reinforces their position. It is unfair and inappropriate to think that an assessment of how similar other religions are to Christianity should matter to non-Christians.
    I was not surprised to read that the content of any of the Common Ground legislation was not broached in the Sacred Ground meeting. By defining, non-heterosexuality as a threat to the Family and therefore a threat to Community and to Country and to God, the risks become so great that a little bit of discrimination is an acceptable loss. A little bit of bigotry, a little bit of hatred; and can it really be bigotry of it is the word of God?
    Some of this moral dancing is as simple as: “don’t blame me, I am just following orders.” For others, the conflict is more dependent upon whether non-heterosexual behavior is a choice or an innate state. An argument I frequently hear is that all major religions teach that homosexuality is a sin and, therefore, the idea that since this is a ‘universal construct’ it is, in part, proof that it is true. There are many philosophies which had been seen as dogma: the concept that parents own their children and can do with them as they wish; the concept that women are given to men and are to be subservient to them; the concept that vanquished foes are naturally the slaves of the future. Some of these concepts are seen as not quite being as relevant now as they once were. I can respect the views of others provided they do not impose their will on others. So many people are scurrying around feeling put upon. And I guess that is the core concept: for those in which ‘non-heterosexual choices’ might generate guilt by association or unfairly tempt innocents, there is no room for equality.
    My goal is to be the best person I can be and I do not need religion to define that for me. I do think that families are important, as are villages, companies and schools, all of which have the potential of teaching the relationship between behavior and consequence. I think it what the family does that matters and not how it would look in photograph.
    Ron Hunt

    Reply

  11. Honestly Paul, for someone whose website says “personal responsibility as the basis of self government” and “limited government” you sure spend a lot of time trying to expand the powers of government into other peoples lives.

    Also from your web site, “We invite responsible citizens to join with Sutherland Institute on Thursday evening, February 5, 2009, for State of the Union II: The Challenge to Family and Freedom. The event will be held at the Show Barn at Thanksgiving Point, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.”

    Yet you say: “I find your characterizations curious on many levels, not the least of which is that you and yours feel some “right” to enter a private meeting on private property”

    I guess anyone who happens to be gay or who is actually interested in human rights isn’t “a responsible citizen” in your eyes.

    But then I have been told your opinions by you before. So I can’t say i am shocked.

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  12. JM:

    You and me both….

    “I still want an answer to HOW letting every one have equal rights will destroy the American family.

    I want an answer as to how letting a partner sue for wrongful death will destroy the institution of marriage.

    I want an answer to how a civil union, hospital rights and the right to work without being fired because you’re different is so un-American.

    I still want someone to show me where Jesus says it’s ok to ignore everything he taught when it comes to gays.”

    Anyone care to help us out?

    Reply

  13. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Several weeks ago I contacted Equality Utah to ask if they would like to debate us…I left the topic largely up to them. We have settled on “Resolved: the Utah State Legislature should pass the Common Ground Initiative.”

    The debate is on the evening of February 19 at the U. of U.’s Sutherland Moot Court Room in the law school. Time: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

    Equality Utah controls 100 seats. Anyone with policy questions…”why do you believe…?” should make sure to contact EU to secure a seat.

    We have set aside 30 minutes for questions from the audience.

    Each “team” will have four members. Should be fun for all!!

    Reply

  14. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Eric,

    You have several comments.

    As I said, we’ll be releasing both the transcripts from the evening and the video…so you can read/listen for yourself about what was mentioned or not mentioned. I certainly mentioned the Common Ground Initiative and LaVar mentioned its component pieces.

    You are correct that we did not discuss the component pieces. That wasn’t the purpose of the evening.

    Sutherland is not opposed to public debate or people holding opposing views…it’s ridiculous to suggest that.

    It is also ridiculous to draw equivalency between one organizations efforts and anothers…as if one is only “pure” if it does exactly what the other one does. Have your rallys and demonstrations…we don’t do that. Indeed, you would find it ridiculous if I were to say to you, “you’ve nenver invited me to any of your private events,” as if to complain.

    To the best of my knowledge, we did an interview with Q…don’t know why he would not have been allowed in if indeed he would have asked to speak with Jeff Reynolds and told whomever up front that he was media.

    Lastly, to answer broadly what seems to be a primary complaint is that you guys evidently believe your our spin…that the Common Ground Initiative is simply an innocent and righteous cause to gain a few reasonable rights as gay couples or individuals. Instead of the CGI being used, as the ploy has been used in CA, MA, and CT, to gain incremental advances on the definition of marriage (i.e. using marriage-like benefits to get a court to do the rest in achieving acceptance).

    We’ll just never agree on either one’s motives.

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      Hi Paul;

      Thanks for your additional comments. A few follow up points for you. You mentioned that the point of your event was not to talk about the components of the Common Ground Initiative. Well that does seem interesting to me as the whole evening was spent calling for these bills defeat, and yet not a mention of what they were.

      It seems as though the whole basis of your argument is that by granting these basic civil rights, it will lead to marriage. And yet even the attorneys on your side of the argument disagree with you.

      But even Lynn Wardle, a more conservative family law professor at Brigham Young University’s law school, sees flaws in arguing against extending any legal protections to same-sex couples. Wardle supports Amendment 3 — he provided legal advice during its crafting. But he says the amendment was “drafted very carefully to allow the extension of certain benefits — just not a substantial equivalent [of marriage].”

      In short, he says, “the principle that you can’t give any particular benefit [to unmarried partners] without violating Amendment 3 is erroneous.”

      Wardle sees no breaching of Amendment 3 in one Common Ground bill, which already died in a Senate committee. Sen. Scott McCoy’s wrongful-death bill would have allowed a cohabiting financial dependent — besides a spouse, child or parent — to sue when a breadwinner suffers a wrongful death.

      That full article can be seen here.

      And Paul, I’m trying, but really struggling to see how making the comparison between how your event worked, and Equality Utah’s event is somehow irrelevant. I did not use the word “pure.” What I did say was that while one was open to all, inviting of questions or criticism. While the other event was private, closed to almost all who disagree, and did not even offer the opportunity of questions.

      Paul, I will say this in the most respectful way that I can. But your entire argument is flawed, and backed solely by prejudice, emotion and fear, without an inkling of law. How is it, that members of your “congregation” that night all could agree with these basic rights when presented in a simple clear manner, free of any emotional plea, but just a simple statement of fact. “Did you know that in Utah it is legal to fire someone from their job, or evict them from their homes for no other reason than their sexual orientation?” And the answer, 100% of the time, was “that is horrible,” and “that isn’t right.” And yet when you and the other speakers stand, emotion rules all. As you put it, “we should do what we ought, not what we want.” Well what we “ought to do” Paul, is show more Christ-like love. And take care of our fellow men who are treated so abominably.

      Thank you again for your comments, I look forward to seeing you at the debate.

      Reply

  15. So, Paul, when ya’ll are getting together to throttle, rescind and restrict the rights of American citizens – you don’t want to hear their voices … that seems to be where you’re at.

    Ah, gimme some of the modern religion! Makes me wonder if the secret design of your future inquisitor’s robes have a point little hat.

    You have this shitty little trick of popping in, calling everyone stupid for disagreeing with you, dodging the point(s) of any given topic and ignoring direct questions that call into play your intolerant and hateful interpretation of both Christianity and the America experiment.

    It’s dishonest, Paul. You want to spew intolerance, at least try to back it up to both the victims of your skewed ideology and the people who think that what you do, say, stand for and act upon is messed up, hateful and in direct opposition to everything you falsely claim to stand for.

    Reply

  16. Posted by Dominique on February 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I would refer Brother Mero to the 31st chapter of Alma. This chapter was written for you, my brother, and your Sutherland Institute.

    When you refuse to learn from the very scriptures that Joseph Smith declared as the most true and correct, you expose yourselves as hypocrites.

    The story refers to a fallen people who did not believe in Christ, but the story is also a metaphor of a people who were more interested in pomp and circumstance and declaring themselves superior, than in respecting and honoring people the deemed “other” and “less than”.

    Everyone please read my link… it is Sacred Ground… Sacred Canonized Mormon Scripture. Read this chapter of the Book of Mormon and tell me if this story is not exactly what the Sutherland Institute, Sister Ruzica’s Eagle Forum, Chris Buttars, Ben Ferry, Shelly Locke, Paul Mero, Lavar Christensen, et al, represent.

    Especially notice verse 18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/alma/31/21#21

    Reply

  17. Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    By the way Paul, I don’t recall ever having barred you from an event. And you have twice now alluded to “secret events” that we are holding. Please, show me these secret events, because I attend 90% of the events that are held, and I don’t ever recall one barring anyone from attendance.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Dominique on February 7, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    just for fun, i thought i’d add a link from a friend. The Marriot Hotel chain supports equality for all and refused to spend a dime on Prop 8.

    there are many good Mormons out there. would that they were more vocal.

    http://www.blogs.marriott.com/default.asp?item=2284808

    Reply

  19. With all due respect, Paul, Sutherland has bitten off quite a bit with this event, and I think it all centers around one indefensible and irresponsible bit of concentrated lunacy, as quoted in the article above:

    “We do not make laws, we merely distort and twist God’s laws…”

    You cannot defend that statement, and any attempt to do so undermines the credibility of not only this specific event, but the Institute itself. One not need a law degree nor be a law scholar to spot the idiocy in that statement, and there is no reason to hear another word the man says once he utters it.

    I tell ya, man (though I admittedly don’t want you to succeed on blocking common ground), you’ve got to find a better class of spokesman, and I say that with all due respect having gotten to know you through our many debates/discussions.

    LaVarr is an ideological fool. A zealot for whom the end will always justify the means. And any means will do.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Eric, a last thought or two here just to clarify…”secret” is the tenor and tone of how I read your description of OUR event…that somehow we kicked you all out for our “secret” reasons to conspire.

    When I put a word in quotes, I am not necessarily quoting you or someone else, but simply highlighting the word (given that I don’t know how to bold or italicize in this format).

    Lynn Wardle is a friend but he’s wrong on the politics and policy (and some of the law) about the component parts of the CGI. I think it’s funny that you seem to think I care about the “authority” of an academic’s thought (i.e. a BYU law professor). I don’t, nor does anyone else at Sutherland. I care about the thought alone, the idea, the law, the policy. But, admittedly, it makes for good politics for your side.

    Anyway, you have wonderful questions that you will have an opportunity to ask at the debate on the 19th…or your EU surrogates will ask.

    Don’t get your hopes up, the CGI argument is doomed because it is based on fallicies of logic and law…not the least of which is that you think that your sexual behavior rises to the level of a civil right…and that’s just the beginning of your argumentative troubles.

    But I can see that your mind-set won’t let logic interfere with what you’re already certain of. Frankly, I asked for the debate to create a public record…not for you guys or us…but for regular folks. Sutherland is covering the costs of recording it and making it available to the public.

    No thanks necessary. 🙂

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Paul;

      As before, thank you for your response. I’m sure we’ll have the chance to meet at the debate, and I look forward to that, so I will just ask one very specific question in response to your comment that the CGI is “based on fallicies of logic and law..” In Utah, you cannot fire or evict someone for the color of their skin (which they are born with), nor can you fire or evict someone for their religion (which is a lifestyle choice). So what argument, legally or spiritually, do you have opposing this bill that justifies people losing their employment or housing due to something that affects neither workplace or tenant performance?

      Reply

  21. Oh also… Mrs. Swim…

    “this is against those who have decided to cast aside the wisdom of the ages…for we are the Defenders of freedom, protectors of liberty and guardians of virtue.”

    I don’t remember appointing her/them to that role, or even being consulted. Not even a vote? Was it just a message passed down from on high in a silken scroll, or received in a dream? A twitter from God? What?

    Self appointed culture-warriors are the worst kind.

    Reply

  22. Posted by Joshua Zollinger on February 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    “But I can see that your mind-set won’t let logic interfere with what you’re already certain of.” Enough said.

    But seriously, I see enough of this kind of talk on extremists on both sides of the issue. I wish that almost every debate about this type of issue didn’t degenerate into mud-slinging and emotionally charged language. Since I became active politically on this issue (arguing, depending on whose topic it was, both sides of it. Although I believe in equality, I’ve argued with people against it to help them understand the other side) I’ve had one, maybe two debates online that didn’t end with somebody coming in and hating on the other side. I wish people could be more rational about this kind of thing.

    Also, just thought I’d add a little blurb in here about “God’s Law” just in case Paul is still reading these comments. The only place, in all four books of LDS scripture, where it specifically mentions homosexuality is in 1st Corinthians, where Paul lists it among a list of sexually promiscuous activities. In that same book, Paul also says that the saints should not get married if they can avoid it, but that it is “better to marry than to burn” if they can’t overcome their physical urges. And before anyone protests about Sodom, the actually meaning of the word Sodomite is a professional prostitute, not a homosexual.

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  23. Posted by Rhonda on February 7, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I know I was not treated with respect when I was asked to leave. He kindly watched and escorted me to the man in the little green jacket and he was not all that nice, as he guided me out, I was told this is a public meeting on private property.

    Oh and the secret list they tried to hide, it had a big NO next to my name. I heard they were more worried how their members were going to act towards us. As we were standing out on public property, there were a some cars that yelled “You are going to hell” and “God hates Queers”. I didn’t see us yelling hateful things to them. We were waving to them and smiling. Also, big kudus to the ones for all the honks in support.

    What does not getting fired from your job or not getting evicted from your house, to do with marriage. NOTHING! The Common Ground Bills have nothing to do with marriage. These are just basic civil rights.

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  24. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks Eric…religious freedom is not a lifestyle choice…the color of your carpet, what you eat for dinner…your personal sexual behavior…those are lifestyle choices.

    Of course, choosing a religion is a choice..and its that freedom to choose that is constitutionally protected.

    Your sexual behavior is not.

    Funny thing about your private sexual behavior is that no one would know about it unless you talked about it…and then the question becomes, is that an appropriate topic for the workplace or housing?

    People are “discriminated” against in the workplace and in rental housing for a variety of reasons…thousands of reasons individual to each person’s circumstances. So it’s hard argue that “discrimination” is this great evil…if we are rightly defining “discrimination” as “inappropriate” or “irrelevant” or “inconsistent” with a workplace or a rental housing situation.

    There is a bigger problem that has to do with placing the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into Utah statute. But I am sure we’ll get into that at the debate.

    So my answer is that your sexual behavior is not relevant to the workplace or housing and, because it’s not relevant, it should not be codified as if it were.

    BTW, how many cases in Utah are there of people being fired for being “gay”? And how many instances in Utah are there where people have been denied the opportuntiy to rent a house or obtain a mortgage because they are “gay”?

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm

      Paul;

      Over the course of your life, in all the many jobs you’ve held, how many times have you or a co-worker mentioned their spouse, children or home life in the office? I would be willing to bet at least once a day that conversation has occurred. And you and I are both aware that this is not the only way that people might find out about a person’s sexual orientation. Many men are naturally more feminine than masculine, and vice versa for woman. And where does that leave transgendered people? Some people who have transitioned have no physical trace of their former gender, and you would never know unless they told you. But that is not the case of many. How does this effect job performance or tenant performance? This bill would NOT make it illegal to fire or evict someone who was gay or transgendered, what it WOULD do is make it illegal for that to be the reason for their termination or eviction.

      As to how many cases in Utah there are, I highly recommend that you do your research prior to the debate (just a personal recommendation). I will just tell you that both instances have happened to me, and I was told to my face that my sexual orientation was the reason.

      Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

      By the way Paul, what do you think about this?

      The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.

      Source: LDS Official Newsroom. Full story at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

      Reply

  25. Posted by Rhonda on February 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    I have a couple of life experiences to share and I would love to hear what Mr. Paul Mero has to say when this happens. Why he feels, he deserves these protections and I Rhonda as a person does not. But YES I do deserve to be treated this way.

    I was up for a promotion. Then for health reasons my supervisor had to quite. When the vice president came in she let it be known she did not like or approve of GLBT’s. When she came in the next day to work I was given a pink slip and told I was being “let go”. At the time I had a young child to take care of. For being fired or I will say “let go” I had no choice but to go on STATE AID, which included medicad. So in turn it cost the state money for there discrimination. Tell me from a promotion to being fired in only a few days.

    Also, I rented a house with someone. We were very good tenants, very quite and kept to ourselves. When the “owner” found out we were gay we were informed “I do not want any gay people in my house you have 2 weeks”. I was lucky enough to find another home in time for me and my daughter.

    This discrimination does happen. There is no reason for a person to get kick out of there home or place of employment for being GLBT. We are not asking for special treatment. We are not asking to do a job or pay rent on a place that we cannot do. Discrimination has no place at a job or a home.

    I read an article about a family. They were getting ready for a vacation when one of them passed out. When they got to the hospital she found out her partner of 18yrs was not going to make it. Her and there three children were not allowed to say their final goodbyes. How would you feel Mr. Mero. You have probably figured out this is a lesbian couple 18yrs and their family.

    Do you really think and feel this is fair treatment?

    Reply

  26. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    I am sorry to hear that you were fired for that reason. What were the circumstances? How did it even come to be an issue? (Why don’t you email me that info given it’s more personal…pmero@sutherlandinstitute.org)

    To answer your second post, about the Church statement, it’s probably best to keep it in the CA context where those laws were already on the books…that is, Prop 8 was about marriage not the other established laws in CA…OR, if you prefer not to accept that idea, you could choose to focus on the part of the statement that comes after “so long as.”
    And, of course, it’s that latter part that I suppose we’ll address at the debate.

    (You don’t seem to be able to wait for the debate!!)

    Reply

  27. “religious freedom is not a lifestyle choice…the color of your carpet, what you eat for dinner…your personal sexual behavior…those are lifestyle choices.”

    So Paul, I have asked you this before, and I am asking again…

    Despite the evidence, despite demonstrated brain function and hormonal difference, despite the sheer idiocy of the statement, sexuality, in your mind, is a choice.

    How old where you when you “choose” to be straight?

    “People are “discriminated” against in the workplace and in rental housing for a variety of reasons…thousands of reasons individual to each person’s circumstances. So it’s hard argue that “discrimination” is this great evil”

    discrimination |disˌkriməˈnā sh ən|
    noun
    1 the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, esp. on the grounds of race, age, or sex

    Are you unclear on what “unjust” and “predjudicial” mean?

    “So my answer is that your sexual behavior is not relevant to the workplace or housing and, because it’s not relevant, it should not be codified as if it were.”

    If it isn’t relevant, why are you so opposed to stopping people from using it to hurt others?

    Reply

  28. “To answer your second post, about the Church statement, it’s probably best to keep it in the CA context where those laws were already on the books…that is, Prop 8 was about marriage not the other established laws in CA…OR, if you prefer not to accept that idea, you could choose to focus on the part of the statement that comes after “so long as.””

    In short, “the mormons can’t export all their homophobia to other states for legal reasons, but here in Utah we can make it a legal right to hate teh fags!”

    Or is it simply that the church is lying?

    Reply

  29. Posted by Rhonda on February 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Ok, maybe I am not the smartest. But I would like to address Mr. Paul Mero.

    My partner and I have been together for 6 1/2yrs now and are just now thinking about buying a townhouse (and yes we have good credit and are great rentees). but now we both feel it is time to buy something. So, what I understand is that if something was to happen and we own property. If anyone in her family wanted to take everything we worked for and if I couldn’t prove that it was personally mine. They could take whatever they wanted. Or house, funiture, anything. Anyone in her family, whatever they wanted, even someone she never meant. Could take everything – I could lose everything, be homeless.

    From what understand this is what you and the Sutherland Institute think and feel is right. That on a civil matter this is right and fair. That on a civil matter I deserve to be treated this way. Can you please explain. I am not being a smartalec but I cannot understand treating someone this way for sharing their life together.

    So can you please tell me why you feel I would deserve to be treated this way.

    Reply

  30. Posted by Rhonda on February 7, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    The circumstances. I had been working there for almost a year and had been getting good reports on my work and was getting a promotion. My supervisor had a heartattack and had to stop working, this was a very stressful job. Well, the vice president had to come and fill in. I had no problems and got along with everyone at work including the doctors I worked with. I was very professional and was friendly to my patients. I had no bad marks in my work record instead I had good reports and got all my work done. Well the vice president let it be known she did not LIKE the GLBT people and I was fired the next day. There was no special circumstances. She let me know that there was nothing I could there were no resources to help. There was no law in place. Oh, and other then her not liking the GLBT there were no issues. I had never been written or spoke to regarding my sexuality, so no concerns there.

    I feel that there is no reason to email you directly for I have nothing to hide. I would luv to hear and interested in what you have to say. To say that this treatment is ok and is acceptable, I do not understand.

    Reply

  31. Posted by Paul Mero on February 7, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Rhonda 6:47 post…your assumptions are incorrect. You can protect your joint assets and keep them between you and your partner.

    Rhonda 8:40 post…what is the name of the employer who discriminated against you…and what company?

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 8, 2009 at 3:43 am

      Hello Paul;

      I was away from my computer this evening so haven’t replied, but I’d like to go back to my last post, and your follow up comment. Very interesting that you would ignore the first part of my statement, but perhaps you realized the faulty logic behind asking someone to never discuss their home life at work. Or perhaps it was that you recalled how often you and your co-workers discuss your own spouses and home-lives. As to the second, so you are suggesting that the LDS Church is pro-these simple rights in California, but they are against them here in Utah? I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a double standard. I hope you can support that with authority from the church, as it sounds like you speaking on behalf of the First Presidency, with nothing on record to back it up. As for the second part of the Church’s quote, the twists and turns in the logic defy description. What you suggest is that these basic protective rights do not constitute a threat to marriage when you are lobbying for a same-sex marriage law to be repealed, but they do constitute a threat to marriage if no same-sex marriage law is currently in existence. Talk about a labyrinth.

      I’m sorry to tell you Paul, but if this is what you are planning on bringing to the debate, you are in for a hard night my friend.

      Reply

  32. Posted by White Married Man on February 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Paul Metro,
    You and I talk about the person we love the most, openly and freely, why should others be told that they should not. Try going one month without making a mention of your wife out side your home. This is less then 1% of the time that you are asking gay people to not talk about the person they love the most. When you get done tell me if you succeeded, and if you would feel good living that way rest of your life. I would not, I love my wife and love to talk about her.

    Reply

  33. Eric, after a while you will notice a pattern in Paul’s discussions. He knows just how empty and fascist his reasoning is, and so he simply refuses to speak about the sections of it that will be problematic. You may also notice that while the majority of people here are arguing for equal rights, he is splitting hairs and moving the burden of proof to others. He often does this in exactly the way he is pursuing here, explaining to people who have actually experienced discrimination that it is they who are wrong and implying that they have to prove some case, demonstrate they were attacked, give out personal information. It is possible that he fails to understand that equality is not a case by case ad hoc basis, but something that should apply to all people, all of the time.

    And given the experience reported on in the meeting, you might be careful giving Paul personal information. It sounds like it could be used to keep you out of future meetings. At the very least.

    “BTW, the “bad people” comment is probably a fabrication. I don’t work with people who speak that way…or who would even say that at all.”

    Well Paul, we didn’t expect you to admit being a bigot right here in a public forum, did we?

    Reply

  34. Posted by Rhonda on February 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I did some investigating myself Mr. Mero regarding our assets. What I found out was there is NOTHING to protect me from losing everything. No matter what we have in writing, her family could still fight and win and I would lose everything we owned. I would go from having owning a home and being self sufficient to homeless.

    This is way I am asking you. Do you and the Southerland Institute really believe, to be treated this way is something that I would deserve.

    As far as giving you the name of my employer. I would like to know why. Are you going to contact them and let them know that this behavior, the way I was treated, is not right and just. I would like to know your reasoning before giving out the name. I would hate it if I was not able to find work or get fired again for being on a LIST for trouble makers.

    So I still can be fired, be kicked out and losing everything we have worked for. All this just for loving someone and sharing my life.

    I find it fascinating that you have yet to answer the question on whether you and or the Southerland Institute feel that this is the way I deserve to be treated. I would like to know and please help me understand why you feel this way.

    Reply

  35. Posted by Paul Mero on February 8, 2009 at 10:55 am

    One of the difficulties our two sides always have in communicating is that you see your “gay” life as inherent, as just one more characteristic of an otherwise normal life…we don’t. (I’ll just speak for myself here)…When you tell me you’re “gay,” I wonder why you need to tell me how you have sex. In the workplace, you would hear me talk about my wife and children…what you wouldn’t hear me talk about is my sex life. Certainly it would be obvious that if I did talk about wife/children I would be admitting implicitly to male/female sexual bonding and, if about my children, pro-creative sexual behavior. Not so with you guys.

    I tell stories at work about when me and a male friend went to a baseball game. Certainly that sort of story has no sexual connotation. If I said that my wife and I went to a baseball game, still there is no sexual connotation except for the fact that my co-workers would know my wife and I have sex.

    You guys talk like that…and because your sexual lives are innately sterile inside a same-sex relationship…all you are really telling me is about your sex life. I can choose to accept it or not…I can choose to ignore it. But however I choose to respond doesn’t change the differences in meaning about your description of going out with your “spouse” and my going out with my spouse.

    I understand that you see no serious distinction there. But most people do.

    Let’s get to the workplace discrimination idea. People get fired for any number of “at-will” reasons…they could be hard to work with, not smart, not self-motivated…not personable when you need a personable employee. They could be perfectly fine for the warehouse but not the front office.

    Being gay, you might never mention that you are and yet, because of outward gestures, such as pictures of you kissing your boyfriend…or you at the anti-LDS Church/Prop 8 protest…or, like we just saw play out recently with the fellow who died over in Egypt, you’re a drag queen at night at the clubs and you have those pictures all over your office, desk, or cubicle — all of that affects your work environment. And to say that NONE of that should factor into your employment circumstances is to say that NONE of your co-workers’ lives should either…and you’re not saying that. In fact, you’re saying the opposite…that it all should and that you want to be accepted in spite of it (maybe even because of it).

    I have fired many employees in my career…none for being gay. But I have fired them for being incompetent (even when they thought they were doing fine)…or for just turning out to be the wrong person for the job.

    You guys look at yourselves and rule out that your sexual behavior is meaningless in the workplace and then express it in the workplace (through what I described above) as if everyone else should think it’s meaningless as well. Well, hey, that’s not how real people and real workplaces operate…and passing an anti-discrimination law won’t help the inherent problem. What, you ask, is the inherent problem? 1) your sexual behavior is different than male/female/children-context sexual behavior in substance and effect for society, and 2) the “otherwise qualified” position is an illusion (and I’ll assume you understand what that means since it’s been such a big point in the whole ENDA debates over the years).

    The workplace debate is an extension of the deeper debate at play and the “value” of one’s sexual behavior and its place in law and policy. In other words, as much as you’d like to see it this way, you can’t just say, in isolation, “I’m gay and you cannot discriminate against me in the workplace” BECAUSE, outside of innate human traits, no other personal factors are looked at in isolation in the workplace.

    So, Rhonda in this case, this is why I asked for your employer’s name and company. I’d love to call him/her up and talk about your situation. (And, of course, by you telling me about it publicly permissions me to talk about it, doesn’t it…because, if not, then you prove part of my point that certain things should be held private in the workplace.) I would love to understand from your employer what else was in play, if anything.

    But to answer your question specifically, even if NOTHING else were in play in your situation, though I would not tend to make that sort of employer’s decision you had to live with, I would not begrudge another employer from doing so. Why, you ask? Because even if I felt that your employer’s reasoning was unreasonable, your employer has the standing to determine what affects the workplace and what does not. Frankly, this is why bosses get fired all the time…they fail to lead people properly and get results.

    So, Rhonda, all things being equal, do you “deserve” to be fired for something in your private life that doesn’t affect the workplace? No, not in my opinion. But I wouldn’t favor a law that required me to make your private life my buisness.

    And Eric (sorry for the length of this post but that’s what happens when several people combine against one person…I always feel the need to talk to everyone)…your view of the Church statements clouds your ability to analyze my view of their statements. I don’t see a double-standard as you do because I see those statements in CA as saying, “Prop 8 is about marriage…we’re not interested in undoing any other CA law that’s in place through Prop 8.” You see them saying, ” We’re not interested in undoing any other CA law (like “the list”), and so we FAVOR all other CA laws.” That’s not accurate in my opinion, but I don’t speak for the Church or any church.

    I do know that they spoke in favor of Amendment 3, in all its glory, here in Utah. That’s what I have to go on here in Utah so far.

    Let’s see…I won’t bother with Shane’s comments because he’s a hater, so nothing I say will matter there. Anything else? Well, I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’ve missed responding to someone.

    But you see your sexual behvaior as innate (born that way) and so I see how you will disagree with my thinking.

    Reply

  36. Posted by Paul Mero on February 8, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I don’t know if your comment board call handle this document but I’ll try to post it here…go ahead and work your way through this workplace scenario:

    Should Utah extend employment benefits and protections based on sexual orientation? The following dialogue might shed light on a complicated issue.

    (The setting for this dialogue is a steel mill employing about 75 persons. Tom is the mill supervisor. Steve is one of Tom’s most tenured and trusted employee.)

    Steve: Hey, Tom. How ‘ya doing?
    Tom: Fine, Steve. How are you?
    S: Okay I guess. Say, do you have a minute or two to talk privately?
    T: Sure. Come on in and close the door.
    S: Thanks. This isn’t easy for me, Tom. What I am about to share with you few people know. I feel very uncomfortable.
    T: Listen, Steve, you’ve worked for me now…hasn’t it been 15 years? You are by far one of my best employees. Don’t be uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and just tell me what’s on your mind.
    S: Okay. Here it goes. Tom…I’m a Martian.
    [an uncomfortably long pause]
    T: You’re a what?
    S: I’m a Martian.
    [another uncomfortably long pause]
    S: Tom?
    T: Oh, I’m sorry. You just caught me off guard. I couldn’t tell whether or not you were kidding.
    S: I’m not. I really am a Martian.
    T: Steve, have you told anyone else about this?
    S: My parents know. That was difficult. And, of course, my other Martian friends know.
    T: Martian friends?
    S: Sure. We represent about 10 percent of the population.
    T: I’m dumbfounded. How do you know that you’re a Martian?
    S: I’ve always known. Ever since I can remember I have always been attracted to space. I’ve had what seems like an obsession with Mars. I just know that I’m a Martian.
    T: But why now? Why, after 15 years, did you wait to tell me.
    S: Well, I’ve been struggling with it. All around me are earthlings. Everything on earth is geared toward earthlings. Earth this, Earth that. Tom, a large part of me wants to be like everyone else. And it hasn’t helped that I can’t prove that I’m from Mars. I don’t have a spaceship to show you or anything like it. This is just who I am. I have often thought that God must be cruel or something, you know, to have made me a Martian in an earthly setting. But now I know that God isn’t cruel. He loves me. And for me to be what He made me I simply must be open about being a Martian. It’s the only way I can keep my sanity. I have often thought about killing myself, Tom. It hasn’t been easy.
    T: I can see.
    [another long pause]
    S: Are you okay? You look puzzled. Is this going to be a problem for you?
    T: I’m not quite sure, Steve. I don’t want to offend you, I like you, but it may take a while for me to get used to this. To be honest, your announcement alone has already affected the way I view you. I’m sorry, but I’m being honest with you.
    S: And I have always felt your warm regard for me personally and your respect for my work here at the foundry.
    T: I’m glad you drew that distinction between your personal life and your employment. You have to realize that your co-workers may not be as patient with you as I am desperately trying to be. Steve, count on the fact that many of your fellow employees will have a problem with this.
    S: Then that’s their problem! Why should I live my life based on the prejudice, narrow mindedness, and bigotry of others?
    T: Well, it’s not entirely their problem, as you say.
    S: What do you mean?
    T: Steve, if the universe wherein you came out of your “galactic closet” was limited to your personal life, then your workplace relationships would be unaffected.
    S: I suppose.
    T: But the vast majority of your co-workers are not your close personal friends. In other words, the only reason they know you or associate with you at any time during the day is because they have to work with you. In this foundry, we forge steel. It’s a dangerous setting. Your co-workers rely on you each day to make safe and sound judgments regarding their safety in the workplace.
    S: Wait a minute. Are you suggesting that if I was a pencil-pusher instead of a floor supervisor that my being a Martian would have a less significant effect in the workplace?
    T: Yes and no. If I had my physical life in your hands, as many of your co-workers do, then I would wonder about your judgment if you suddenly announced to me that you’re “My Favorite Martian.”
    S: Funny.
    T: So the answer to your question about being a pencil-pusher is “yes,” if I indeed had my physical life in your hands. In that case, I really would prefer that you were a pencil-pusher. But Steve, as your employer, while I may not have my physical life in your hands, I do have the future of my business in your hands and the hands of every other employee. Pencil-pusher or not, I have given you a certain stewardship and I have placed in you a significant amount of trust.
    S: I’m not sure I follow.
    T: Do you understand the word confidence? As your boss and the owner of this business, I have to have confidence in my employees. Your co-workers on the foundry floor might not have as much confidence in you as they otherwise might express if you tell them you’re a Martian. As their supervisor, you need to have their confidence. Their lives depend on it.
    S: And what about you?
    T: I told you. I’m not sure where I stand. Frankly, just because you say that you are a Martian does not make you a Martian…especially in the workplace where I have to judge you by your works, not by what you believe.
    S: This is more difficult than I thought. I’m starting to feel defensive.
    T: Well, then help me to better understand your situation. How did you come to assume this identity?
    S: It’s not assumed, Tom! It is who I am. It’s like being born black or female or left-handed.
    T: But so far, Steve, it’s not like any of those innate traits. You came in here and told me that you’re a Martian. Your being black or female or left-handed would be self-evident. Your being a Martian is not self-evident. For instance, what is it that you do that makes you a Martian?
    S: I don’t have to do anything. I just am.
    T: But don’t you see the inherent problems with that? First, just believing in something doesn’t make it true. Even Christians just can’t say that they believe they are Christians and then not conform their lives to Christ. They have to act on that belief. Only then might they claim the label of Christian. And second, if we’re sitting here talking about things that are only relevant to your psyche, what’s the purpose of “coming out” in the workplace? If what you’re talking about has nothing to do with your work, then why are we talking about it as if it does?
    S: I thought that you would understand. I thought that you were my friend, or, at least, that you respected me. You seemed like such a fair and open-minded person. I thought that you would sense how important it is to me that I make known who I am. And my being a Martian does have something to do with the workplace. Do you know how hurtful Martian jokes can be? Do you know what it’s like to have who you are made fun of by idiots who don’t have one clue what it’s like to be a Martian, let alone a Martian on Earth? Furthermore . . . .
    T: Go ahead. Get it off your chest.
    S: Furthermore, I am concerned that I have not received a raise lately, even that promotion you gave to Alan, because of the perception that I’m a Martian.
    T: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on a second, Steve. First of all, I didn’t have the slightest idea you even considered yourself a Martian until right now. I gave Alan the promotion over you based on merit and his ability to motivate our colleagues. Steve, you’re awesome to work with. You do what you are asked, and then some. But you simply haven’t shown me the leadership qualities I need in that other position. Honestly, Steve, upper management has more confidence in Alan than you for that position.
    S: I don’t think that’s true. I think they’re discriminating against me because I’m a Martian. True, you and they didn’t now it until now, but you could sense it. I am sure you suspected it and now you are using it against me.
    T: Holy cow, man. You need to get real and very fast. There is no “perception” thing going on here. I don’t even know how to define a perception, legally or not.
    S: It’s just that I know I am otherwise qualified for the job you gave to Alan. So it must be your perceived impression of my status.
    S: By the way, do you have the slightest idea of what it feels like to not be able to bring my life-partner, “Kazoo,” with me to office parties or out with other co-workers?
    T: Are you talking about your friend Rob?
    S: Kazoo is his Martian name. Rob is what he goes by on Earth.
    T: I just assumed that you two guys were homosexuals.
    S: Well, we are by earthly standards. But that’s beside the point.
    T: Wait Steve. Maybe it is relevant. Perhaps your homosexuality will help you better understand my own interpretation of what you’re saying.
    S: Anything is worth a try at this point.
    T: What if you came to me and said, “Tom, I’m…let’s just make up a word for homosexuality, let’s say…gay.”
    S: That’s a stupid word to describe my homosexuality. I mean it’s kind of cute, but it certainly isn’t descriptive of any kind of sex act. Joy? Euphoria? Relief? But not “gay.”
    T: Hey, work with me here, will you?
    S: Okay.
    T: So you announce to me that you’re “gay.” And I ask in return, how do you know that you’re “gay?” Now, Steve, wouldn’t your reply stretch the limits of credibility if all that it was based on was an unproven belief or a feeling that you’re “gay?”
    S: Of course. Being “gay,” as you put it, really means that I have sexual urges for men and that I act upon those urges in a proven physical way.

    T: Exactly. You and I both know that under the color of law there is no such thing as innate “gayness” or “orientation.” Those would be improvable beliefs or perceptions. Let me try to explain it to you in a very relevant way. Steve, when I evaluate your job performance, your job rating is based on tangible things like timeliness, work habits, production, leadership skills, and how you get along with your co-workers. I don’t just leave your rating to you for self-evaluation. Even if I trust you, that system would be very impractical. Both law and this workplace only understand your observable human conduct — the human action involved. That’s the only way that you or anybody else would know if you were a good worker, or a Martian, or if you are truly this “gay” word that I made up.
    S: I get your point.
    T: You know, Steve, you could come to work and tell everyone in the whole place that you’re “gay” and it would be meaningless. But come here and tell everyone about the homosexual sex you had last night or start hanging up pictures of you and Rob passionately kissing each other or having sex, each proving that you’re “gay,” and then watch heads turn. That would certainly, and I might add, adversely, affect our workplace environment.
    S: Which is exactly why I keep my admittedly unconventional sex life and everything associated with it to myself.
    T: I commend you for it. That’s good judgment.
    S: Okay. So what you’re trying to help me to understand is that barring any kind of outward manifestation or physical proof that I am indeed a Martian, that my simply saying so is about as meaningful as my saying that I’m “gay,” as you so inventively put it, without any signs that I engage in homosexual sex.
    T: That’s what I’m trying to get across.
    S: Furthermore, you’re also trying to tell me that for me to announce to all of my co-workers that I’m a Martian, without first showing them any evidence to prove the fact or without first explaining the virtues associated with that lifestyle, will only create needless on-the-job tensions, a breakdown in morale, and promote a general lack of confidence in my professional judgment.
    T: It could do all of those things, yes. And just think of the legal nightmare that would be created for me and every other employer if Congress or any other government entity passed legal protections for anyone on the basis of unsubstantiated claims…first, in the hypothetical case of someone being “gay,” and second, in your own case claiming that you’re a Martian. I’d have to go out of business to avoid all of the possible lawsuits. Anyone could claim they are “gay,” or a Martian, and then get unwarranted special legal protections based on a wholly unproven notion.
    S: Wait! Stop right there. Tom, I did tell you how difficult the workplace environment becomes when I hear Martian jokes and all sorts of other derogatory remarks made about Martians. Those aren’t unsubstantiated claims. They are based on real life accounts.
    T: But, Steve, your accounts of these events are not what’s unsubstantiated. What’s unsubstantiated is the basis of those complaints. No doubt off-color jokes are told. I’d be happy to reprimand any employee for telling off-color jokes in the presence of someone who did not invite the joke-telling. But I’d have very little leverage in enforcing such a reprimand if the basis of it were your being a Martian. Are you willing to come out, without any proof, and tell them that you’re a Martian?
    S: I was thinking about it. That’s why we’re in here talking.
    T: Okay then. Let’s open my door, walk out on to the catwalk, look down on the foundry floor, stop all work for a moment, and announce that you’re a Martian and that you don’t like all of the Martian jokes and, from this time forward, no employee will mention Martians in a derogatory manner. And then, as soon as I can get everyone to stop laughing . . . .
    S: That’s enough.

    T: You get my point, don’t you?
    S: Yes, I can see where you’re coming from. You’re right, without substantiated proof, claiming that I am a Martian is about as meaningful as claiming that I’m something called “gay.”
    T: Right. When I use that contrived word “gay” to describe homosexual sex, we have something to hang our hat on. But when I use that word to describe make-believe, something made up out of whole cloth, like some innate predisposition to engage in sex with men or some self-impression or perception, it’s not only meaningless in the eyes of the law, it would make me seem very foolish. You know, Steve, I at least have a basis to make a company policy about homosexual sex in the workplace.
    S: Of course, a policy that would prohibit any kind of sex in the workplace!
    T: Well, your being a Martian raises the same questions. Show me what that means and then I have something to hang my hat on as your employer. Lacking that, I just have to think that you are making it up.
    S: But why then would I willfully torment my soul with this question? Tom, I’ve gone through hell. Why would anyone go through what I have and not be sincere?
    T: I don’t know. Why do people do anything?
    S: Some answer.
    T: Come on, Steve! No one knows why people do things like self-mutilate themselves or willfully stay in a destructive relationship or eat pickles but not tomatoes or keep repeating one mistake after another. It’s easy to say that we’re “born that way.” A more relevant question would be, what do any of these activities have to do with the workplace? As your employer, that’s what I have to think about every day. I already spend enough time on employee behaviors that affect the workplace. I just don’t have any more time to think about someone’s inner most beliefs, unless, of course, those beliefs turn into actions that begin to conflict with production. For instance, like right now. We’ve spent the last half hour talking about something which I’ve concluded has nothing to do with your work. So….
    S: Okay, I’ll get back to work. But one last question.
    T: Fine.
    S: Let’s turn the tables. Why am I the one who has to prove that I’m a Martian? How come you don’t bear the burden of proving that I’m not?
    T: Easy. You’re the one with the beef. You are the one driving this discussion. Any more questions?
    S: No, not for now. You know, Tom, I can’t promise you anything. I feel compelled to come out and announce to the whole world that I’m a Martian.
    T: You do what you feel you have to. But, just like with every other human action, I can’t predict the consequences of your behavior. I think that you realize that thinking you’re a Martian has no relevancy to the workplace. When you can come in here one day and prove to me that you’re a Martian, only then can I help you on the legitimate basis of your race or national origin. But until then, proceed with caution. Steve, real friends tell each other the truth. I’ve tried to do that with you.
    S: I know you have. Of course, I don’t like what you’ve told me. But I know it makes sense for now. The last thing I need is for a so-called friend to indulge me in a flight of fantasy…like this “gay” thing you made up. Just wait until I tell Kazoo how “gay” he is the next time we’re having sex! He’ll keel over laughing.
    T: See, ya Steve.

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

      Hey Paul;

      Just to see if I can give you a bit of a heads up for the debate. You may want to keep the following in mind.
      The following institutions have all said that sexual orientation is not a choice, and cannot be changed.
      -The American Medical Association
      -The American Psychiatric Association
      -The American Psychological Association
      -The American Psychoanalytic Association
      -The American Academy of Pediatrics
      -The National Association of Social Workers

      You see Paul, the arguments that you cling to get smaller every day.

      Reply

  37. Posted by Rebecca Huggins on February 8, 2009 at 11:35 am

    To: White Married Man,

    Thank you for proposing this to Mr. Mero. I would like to hear his report on how it went. Most of the gay and lesbian people I know are not overtly trying to advertise their orientation…it just comes up in every day ‘NORMAL’ exchanges. The more Mr. Mero can accept the normalcy of all types of families, perhaps the more he’ll realize that the vast majority of Utahns agree with the Common Ground Initiative to protect and make equal the rights of same-sex partnerships and families.

    Reply

  38. Posted by Rebecca Huggins on February 8, 2009 at 11:54 am

    And, to Mr. Mero:

    Regarding your scenario above…do you have photos of you and your wife making out, or having sex on your work desk?

    Reply

  39. So Paul, you say that sexuality is a choice, I ask you when you choose to be straight, you answered:

    “I won’t bother with Shane’s comments because he’s a hater, so nothing I say will matter there”

    So, as I already pointed out, “(Paul) knows just how empty and fascist his reasoning is, and so he simply refuses to speak about the sections of it that will be problematic.”

    It is interesting that I am the hater, when you have announced that a whole class of people don’t deserve equal rights.

    The good news is that while you continue to run away from the discussion, I have no problem continuing to point out the holes in your argument.

    “You guys look at yourselves and rule out that your sexual behavior is meaningless in the workplace and then express it in the workplace (through what I described above) as if everyone else should think it’s meaningless as well. Well, hey, that’s not how real people and real workplaces operate”

    Lets reverse this. Say I walk into your office one day and say “Paul, we need to talk. Your pictures of the temple on your desk and your wearing your ‘magic undies’ to work is really a problem for the rest of the office. So we are letting you go.”

    Does that really seem ok to you?

    One of the difficulties our two sides always have in communicating is that you see your “LDS” life as inherent, as just one more characteristic of an otherwise normal life…we don’t. (I’ll just speak for myself here)…When you tell me you’re “LDS,” I wonder why you need to tell me how uptight you are about sex. In the workplace, you would hear me talk about my wife and children…what you wouldn’t hear me talk about is my choice of beliefs. Certainly it would be obvious that if I did talk about wife/children I would be admitting implicitly to male/female sexual bonding and, if about my children, pro-creative sexual behavior. Not so with you guys.

    You see Paul, you have a choice in your religion. You also have a choice in being a bigot. No one born gay had a choice. The simple fact that you are so hate filled and prejudiced that you think that a person simply stating a fact about themselves is some horrible thing that they should never have told you, explains exactly how much credibility you have on this issue.

    “But you see your sexual behvaior as innate (born that way) and so I see how you will disagree with my thinking.”

    The Catholic and LDS church agree with you. Perhaps god told them. Just like he told them that the earth was the center of the universe and people lived on the moon (respectively). Science says that they have a lot of empirical evidence that you are wrong.

    Why should we accept your argument over science?

    You can’t even tell us when you choose to be straight, will you now tell us how and why?

    Reply

  40. Posted by Joni on February 8, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I have been a valued employee for both fortune 100 and local-faith-based employers for over 35 years. In those years I have seldom had a day at work when we did not have some conversation about our families, our lives, sharing a little about who we are. We talk about who had a baby, who got married, who’s son won a football game… what we had for dinner last night. If anyone started talking about their sexual experiences with their husband or wife… um… I think I would have a serious issue with that (unless it was to relate sexual abuse). It doesn’t matter if they are heterosexual or gay or transgender or martian… those personal behavioral discussions are normally off-limits in the workplace for many (most?) of us.

    “Being” gay or transgender has nothing at all to do with sexual behavior… any more than being heterosexual or non-transgender has to do with sexual behavior. In fact you cannot even know what behavior a gay or transgender person engages in simply by knowing they are gay or transgender… any more than you can for a heterosexual person.

    People just don’t talk about their “sexual behavior” in the workplace. If they did that would be considered inappropriate. Again, doesn’t matter if you are heterosexual, gay, or transgender or non-transgender.

    I, as a transgender woman, have every right to my job as you do yours. The fact that I am transgender does not indicate ANY behavior. It is simply a medical condition that I am or have been treated for.

    if I present myself and conduct myself in a professional manner in keeping with the requirements for my job, then it should NOT be an issue… any more than if I had clef-palate or diabetes.

    The fact that I am gay has no more to do with anything than if I were heterosexual.

    I am a professional who excels in my work… and my customers, fellow employees, and managers all have a high regard for my work. However, I could still be fired if they were somehow uncomfortable about the fact of my being gay or transgender. They could fire me because they imagined some kind of deviant sexual behavior and associated that behavior with me.

    I think I should be protected from people who would judge and fire me on the basis of their imagined sexual behavior which they attributed to me simply because of who I am.

    We shall overcome. We shall overcome someday. We will not give up this struggle for basic human rights. This is America… not Iran.

    Reply

  41. Posted by Stephanie Horlacher on February 8, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    wow, Paul. the second you compare gay people to aliens (as just a silly theoretical example or not), you completely lost it. doesn’t help that even if you were to re-substitute the gays for aliens that the “scenario” isn’t even realistic. did you write that yourself? I REALLY hope not.

    I’m glad you keep shooting yourself in the foot. I look forward to what you say next.

    Reply

  42. Posted by Kate on February 8, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    What we fear says more about ourselves than other people. Maybe some people are in need of taking out hard feelings on a group it is ‘acceptable’ and ‘moral’ to single out.
    A few questions to think about:
    People of the same sex should not marry. Is this true? Can you really honestly say 100% that this is fact?
    How does it make you act when you believe this? Hateful? Self righteous?
    Then ask yourself how much peace can come from letting go of that which is, in reality, not in your control? Instead of being in fear and grasping for any control you can get over others, what about choosing love?

    I like to ask myself what the motive of my decisions are. If it doesn’t come from love, I know it isn’t genuine.
    No, this doesn’t mean you have to change your religious beliefs, it’s being okay that people are different….and loving them anyway. (Perhaps even appreciate our differences?)

    Just some thoughts.

    Thank you Eric! I’ve said it many times but it is so true, I’m grateful for your intent of bringing people together in a loving way.

    Reply

  43. Posted by Maria on February 8, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Mr. Mero,
    I am a straight, Caucasian, married woman with two children. I also happen to have many GLBT friends. When we get together, we talk about our spouses and our children, just as you do. My friends do not discuss their sexual exploits and neither do I.

    I had a very dear friend who is a Mormon and happens to be gay. He did not choose to be and fought with himself for many years. The last time he and I spoke was when he told me that despite being a Gay man, he was going to be married. I fought with him and asked why he was choosing to ruin not only his own life, but the life of the poor girl he was going to marry. He said “It must be wrong to feel this way because my church doesn’t believe it”. We’ve not spoken since. That was many years ago..How many young men and women have chosen this way because the church refuses to allow them to be themselves. How many have taken their own lives rather than fight a religion that tells them they are wrong? Suicide in the Catholic Church is a sin. If the church doctrine is what has forced someone into taking their own life, wouldn’t that be….?

    My friends have not chosen who they are, just as you and I haven’t chosen Mr. Mero. We do choose what our lives will become and I am proud of my friends and the men and women they have chosen to become. I would say the next time you and your wife enjoy a night at the theater, you should say thank you to the community you shun, but I’d forgotten, you probably don’t believe in that…

    Reply

  44. Posted by White Married Man on February 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Paul Mero,
    My wife is a woman! am very offended that you would automatically dismiss me and my wife because you assumed that I was gay. Unfortunately this was not a choice for me the way you claim it was for you and everyone else.

    Reply

  45. Posted by Marie on February 8, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I just have to give Paul Mero a huge ‘Bravo’! He is the gift that keeps on giving. Listening to the true ignorance and fallacious commentary coming from a leader of opposition groups such as the Sutherland Institute gives me so much hope for the future of LGBT rights. Any reasonable person will be able to read the outrageous and unreasoned nature of arguments such as, if I discuss my partner you automatically imagine what type of sex I have (that sounds like a psychological issue; I have never once imagined anyone’s sex life when they discuss their family and relationships with me; and do we have to make the same logical argument that his inference in that comment means that sterile heterosexual couples are obviously then flaunting their sexual proclivities because their sexual practices are by nature not then for procreation?); anyhow, when unsubstantiated comments like that are made by groups opposed to my partnership with someone I love, with whom sexuality is just one part of a myriad of reasons we are together, well then I feel just fine about where we are headed. I have seen the conversation and attitudes elevate and mature over the past ten years, and can only see them continue to rise above the sort of rhetoric that Mr. Mero insists on peddling, like the sort of outdated racism that continues in subcommunities across the country, but has gradually been left behind among reasonable, compassionate, and educated people. So thank you Mr. Mero – the more you say, the more hope I feel that the day will come in my lifetime that my partner and I will enjoy the same basic rights and securities than you and your family.

    Reply

  46. Posted by Travis on February 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I just have to mention to Mr. Mero that the reasoning that your scenario’s boss pointed out is exactly what the Common Ground workplace bill is trying to ensure.

    The boss could still fire someone for allowing their sexual conduct to adversely effect their workplace environment (just like with heteros), but being gay and letting people know that you are gay should not be a legal reason to fire someone.

    And there is nothing that your business would have to worry about unless you were to allow (after being informed of) or promote oppressive or discriminate language, actions or policies. I person wouldn’t be able to sue for not getting a raise unless they can prove that the person who got the raise instead of them were not qualified. They wouldn’t win a suit that they were fired because of their sexual orientation if the firing employer had evidence that the person was being inappropriate.

    As your depiction shows a person should be able to put up a picture of their significant other performing any act that you are alright with seeing on a hetero persons desk. If your workplace allows a picture of a man and a woman giving each other a peck on the lips (one of the pictures my bishop had in his church office is this exact image) the same should be allowed if it is two men or two women. If a hetero couple is allowed to hold hands and/or kiss/peck at a work party (again my bishop was exceptionally affectionate to his wife and would give her pecks at ward parties) then the same should be allowed if they are two men or women. The level of affection allowed in different workplaces might differ slightly, but generally what I described is seen as acceptable in the workplaces that I have been involved in.

    If anyone, whether they be LGBT or hetero goes beyond that level of acceptability then they should be disciplined equally for overstepping.

    If the Workplace Bill passes this is what it is meant to and will ensure. No lawyer or judge will let it mean anything more than that because the bill doesn’t mean anything more than that.

    This is not something that is going to hurt any business. (If you can think of any scenario in which it would hurt a business please post it because I really don’t see any way that it could possibly hurt.)

    Reply

  47. Posted by creativepaul on February 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    mr mero;

    my name is paul. ive ritten on this blog before because like you i dont believe in gays getting married. i have been taught since i was in primary, through young mens and also on my mission that it is not in keeping with gods commandments.

    but in this instance, i cannot agree with you. i cannot see how giving people security in their jobs and homes will affect my marriage whatsoever. and I also cannot see how you are reading into the church’s statements the way you are.

    i feel that althugh i do not support gay marriage i feel i i’m truly following what the prophet and christ has said to support these rights.

    Reply

  48. Posted by Paul Mero on February 8, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    None of you have addressed 1) why your sexual behavior should rise to the level of a protected class of ???? whatever, and 2) why we should make your sexual behavior a matter for the workplace? (Oddly, you say it’s not but then ask for a law to make it so.)

    Perhaps what you’re really trying to get at are “appearances”? Anyway, “at-will” employment includes lots of employee behaviors, including how we dress, how we look, how we smell, how we treat others, etc.

    And, Eric, thanks for all of the debating tips….gee, I never knew all of those esteemed association held those ideas!! 🙂 Eric, I can’t wait for your side to bring all of the scientific and medical evidence for being “born that way” to the debate — not just some politicized association’s opinion, but real medical evidence…you know, real replicable scientific evidence. Can’t wait!

    To the “how will it hurt a business” question, let me ask you if you think a man dressed as a woman (gender identity issue…part of the CGI package of bills) will fair well as a sales person? And if you all think an employer should have any say over how that employee dresses and represents the company?

    Lastly, you all need to get your arguments straight (no pun intended)…either there are problems in the workplace or there are not. If there are, you need to spell out the exact problems…not some vague point of “discrimination” (i.e. he didn’t like me because I’m gay). Again, and I can see that you all see the importance of this point…as long as we’re talking about sexual behavior as “gay,” not the “born that way” stuff, then 1) it’s not relevant to the workplace and 2) it becomes just one more human action among thousands that come into play in a “at-will” employment.

    Oh, sorry, one more thing…though I know you must keep this frame of reference for sanity’s sake, it’s funny to me that you can’t see that what seems (and is) so common in heterosexual relationships — pictures of hugging couples placed on the office desk or sharing small intimacies at company parties — is uncomfortable for most people when two men or two women do the same thing. You just discount it as prejudice when you, too, would draw your own lines of acceptability for office behavior. Would you not? In other words, I am sure you good people draw your own lines of acceptability somewhere, but cannot fathom that others might do so. That’s fascinating to me.

    BTW, that is a point of logic and reason that you guys dismiss as logical fallicy (slippery slope) that actually is a reality you haven’t addressed because it forces you to draw lines of morality, let alone appropriateness in the workplace. Where do you all draw those lines?

    See you all at the debate!!

    Reply

  49. creativepaul – your questions are reasonable, so, Mero won’t bother answering them.

    Reply

  50. Posted by White Married Man on February 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Paul Mero,

    We seem to be missing what you feel it would take for someone to deserve these rights. Why do you feel that you deserve these rights. What are all the points that made it so you and I should have these rights? So far I have not seen a point that justifies discriminating against others because their sexuality is different then ours.

    Reply

  51. Posted by Kate on February 8, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Whether the scientific community can prove something (yet) or not, I believe there is room for actual EXPERIENCE.
    How can anyone even pretend to know they actually KNOW how someone thinks/feels/loves?
    (Luckily, as Eric pointed out, the medical community knows homosexuality is not a choice)

    I don’t think making ‘sexual behavior a matter for the workplace’ is even the issue.
    The issue is that gays are human and should be treated as such. (I never have claimed to be the smartest person but this seems quite obvious)

    More importantly, why should ‘those people’ be protected? Wow! Really?

    You, Mr. Mero, are simply playing control games. You do your best to control who can say when it is a ‘moral’ right for someone to hurt another.

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 8, 2009 at 5:36 pm

      Kate;

      Well put.

      Paul;
      We have gone around this topic for a few days now, and it is interesting to see how we have gone much deeper into Mr. Mero’s viewpoints than his original argument that this is about gay-marriage. I think we are well beyond that now, even though Mr. Mero may not admit it. And what we have found, is that despite the overwhelming public support for Fair Workplace and Housing, Mr. Mero (and by association I assume the Sutherland Institute, correct me if I’m wrong) simply just doesn’t it to happen.
      Well as in the case of most businesses Paul, you need to re-evaluate your goals if you are shown so easily that the public is indeed not on your side. You may be able to get them to cheer you and support you when you stand up and yell gay marriage. But all it took here was a handful of local citizens to question you and discover your true feelings and motives. How do you expect the public to stand with you, when your motivation is only personal, and has nothing to back it up?
      As to your last comment. Well here we are again, essentially saying “it doesn’t matter what these individual bills are, it’s gay marriage, gay marriage, gay marriage!” Do you truly hope that if you yell that often and loud enough, people will actually believe it to be true?

      Reply

  52. Posted by Paul Mero on February 8, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Jeff, come to the debate and ask me whatever question is on your mind? In person.

    Shane, you too. But for your persistence I’ll answer your question…I choose my sexual behavior every moment of every day…just as you do and just as everyone else does. Do I need to be any clearer for you?

    The answer to creativepaul is that your question conflates two separate points…which is why you conclude as you have. The housing and workplace laws are bad policy in and of themselves…being that under the law “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” cannot be defined outside of human actions (like all laws not based on immutable human characteristics)…and those vague terms open employers and property owners up to all sorts of legal mischief.

    So there is valid room to oppose those bills on their own lack of merit.

    The “how will they hurt my marriage” argument is that the package of CGI bills, taken as a whole will be used by gay activists to incrementally undermine and challenge the definition of marriage in court (like CA). If you redefine marriage, you subject all families to needless and unwarranted state interventions…BECAUSE any other definition of family then becomes a creation of the state (whereas the natural family with legal marriage between one man and one woman is not a creation of the state)…your family will lose the “fundamental liberty interest” rights it currently holds for you, as parents, in the upbringing and education of your children.

    I know we didn’t let some fo you in our event…but you can read my remarks online tomorrow…even watch video of it (so, again, you don’t have to rely on second hand interpretations)…and then maybe you can just use these posts to call me names and uncivil stuff like that instead of asking uninformed questions.

    You know, I can see why Equality Utah is picking its debate team very carefully…you guys, would kill their chances. Jeff? Shane? You mean they didn’t call you? 🙂 Be there or be square!!

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 8, 2009 at 5:58 pm

      Paul;
      BTW, you have remarked twice now that this article was somehow not accurate of your event. Please let me know, have I misquoted anyone? You already have said here that it’s true you did not mention any of the bills in the CGI, so that can’t be it. I’m really wanting to hear how I have so misinformed people.
      Also, this film that you’re releasing, is it a full video, or is it edited to take out/change around sections of the meeting? Because there are many people who would notice the difference.

      Reply

  53. “None of you have addressed 1) why your sexual behavior should rise to the level of a protected class of ???? whatever”

    You seem to have a misunderstanding of the idea of protected class.

    Every GLBT person I have ever met only wants to be treated as equal. “Equal” is not “protected.” It is the same.

    If by “protected” you mean only that a majority that has been treated unfairly should be “protected” enough to be treated as equals, then the question stops making sense.

    Put another way, why should _your_ sexual behavior rise to the level of a protected class?

    Or your religion?

    Or your race?

    Your argument basically boils down to “people will be uncomfortable with others who are different, so we should have a right to discriminate.

    Please compare on contrast how your “gays unacceptable in the work place” argument is different if you change it to “blacks” or “hispanics” or “women” or “muslims” in the work place.

    Or will you continue to ignore me because I “am a hater.” (aka I pose questions you can’t answer without revealing your bigotry)

    Reply

  54. Posted by Travis on February 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Part of what I was getting at is the fact that those small intimacies that are shared in a workplace environment can make someone feel uncomfortable even when the couple is hetero, in which case the hetero couple would likely expect to be informed that someone has mentioned that their behavior made them feel uncomfortable so they could be sure not to do it again. If someone else were to do the same thing at a different time that couple would expect the other couple to receive the same treatment.

    “””None of you have addressed 1) why your sexual behavior should rise to the level of a protected class of ???? whatever, and 2) why we should make your sexual behavior a matter for the workplace? (Oddly, you say it’s not but then ask for a law to make it so.)”””

    Both of these questions can be answered at once. NO ONE IS ASKING FOR THEIR SEXUAL BEHAVIOR TO MATTER (sorry for the caps, don’t know how to bold in this format) that is exactly what is not wanted. Just like everyone else no one wants their sexual behavior to matter.
    As for your little remark in parenthesis the law is specifically to make sure that it is a non issue in the workplace because right now it is an issue. If you really think it shouldn’t be an issue then this law would simply help to ensure that it isn’t. I’m beginning to think that the main reason you think the way you do about some of these bills is because you don’t actually know how the laws would work and what effects they actually have.

    Reply

  55. Posted by Rhonda on February 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Mr. Mero the scenario you give is so way out there. Anyway, with my job, other then a couple of friends, who were straight. Did I ever discuss whether I was gay or not. I would refer to my partner, when describing her as “my friend and I” or “my roommate”. I was very respectful and professional at my place of work.

    I am not sure about you. But I don’t look at people and wonder what they do in the bedroom, straight or gay or transgender. Why do you?

    Reply

  56. Posted by Marie on February 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Dear dear Mr. Mero,

    It appears that your commentary thus far is based on a specific set of beliefs that are as follows –
    1. LGBT individuals are involved with a person of the same gender for sexual reasons only. Thus, 2. When an LGBT individual discusses their partner, they are implicitly speaking only of their sexual practices with that individual. And so, 3. When an LGBT person speaks of their partner in the workplace they are violating workplace ethics. But 4. All heterosexuals are involved with opposite-gender persons for purposes of building a life together and most often to foster children. And so 5. When a heterosexual speaks of their romantic relationship, they in no way are referencing any sexual practices, but only the appropriate and acceptable familial relationship they have with their romantic partner.
    Essentially, (you seem to be stating) a same-gender LGBT relationship is for sexual purposes only, without any other substantial purpose or meaning, thus any discussion of or reference to a partner is exclusively of a sexual nature, and thus inappropriate. Am I reading you correctly?

    The fact is, Dear Mero, that millions of LGBT people around the world are involved in long-term, loving, committed and complex relationships, many with homes, jobs, children, and responsibilities, of which their sexual practice is as much a component of that relationship as it is in any heterosexual relationship. Based on this reality, when I mention to my co-worker that I went to dinner with my partner last night, this comment I make to my co-worker references my actual sexual practices just as much as you mentioning to your co-worker that you dined with your wife; as in, it does not reference sexual behavior at all. Do you believe that your sexual practices immediately come up in the minds of your co-workers when you discuss your wife, in the same manner that you believe they do when an LGBT individual discusses their partner? I immediately know, or assume, that you are heterosexual when you discuss your wife, but never does my mind go to what you and your wife may or may not enjoy when you have sex, and I find it odd that you continually reference that same leap when an LGBT person might discuss their same-gender partner in the work environment.

    As many inappropriate conversations about sex that you may have experienced in the workplace from LGBT individuals (which I can only assume there have been relatively few, based on where you are located), I would find it difficult to believe that you and everyone else have not experienced many many more inappropriate sex-related conversations from a heterosexual co-worker. Neither set of explicit sexual conversations or commentary are acceptable or appropriate, whether from an LBGT or a heterosexual co-worker. Any discussion of or inference in the workplace of a sexual nature of any kind is a violation of federal and state laws if it is unwelcomed and/or makes the listening parties uncomfortable in any way. Your argument seems to explicitly state that a heterosexual discussing their partner is always non-sexual, and that an LGBT individual discussing their partner is always sexual, and so you are comfortable stating that the LGBT individual is then always in violation of these laws.

    Ultimately, the statement from you – that it makes you feel uncomfortable when you see a picture of two loving partners together only when they are of the same gender, because you make the leap to sex when you see those pictures, speaks more of you than anything else.

    Nonetheless, truth is truth, and you stand on the wrong side of it. I have no doubt that in my lifetime I will witness the evolution of full and equal rights for LBGT persons, and that you will be quaint and thankfully outdated relic of darker days, when ignorance stood in the way of fairness, compassion, and equality.

    Reply

  57. Posted by Proud Mom on February 8, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Mr. Mero–

    Do you know that your tone is flippant and dismissive? Do you ever reread what you write?

    You are a disciple of Christ?

    Really?

    He would never be so venomous.

    Reply

  58. Posted by Scott on February 8, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve been reading this string of comments all weekend long and while I realize that it won’t have any affect, I need to say this anyway:

    Paul: Pull your head out of everyone’s pants. This debate is not about sexual behavior an any way, shape, or form and I challenge you to respond to any post without using those words. Honestly, I think you should schedule some time with the professional of your choice to talk through that fixation, but that’s your prerogative.

    Reply

  59. Paul,

    “I choose my sexual behavior every moment of every day…just as you do and just as everyone else does.”

    I have never had to choose why sexual preference at any point in my life. I have known, without any doubt, since puberty, exactly where I stand on the matter.

    If you have to choose, “every moment of every day” then I think that it is probably time that you come out of the closet to yourself and admit that you are gay. I know that can be difficult. A lot of gay people really struggle with that admission. I am sure though that many people would be willing to offer advice. None of us would judge you for it, you are safe here.

    That is the point after all.

    Marie:

    Well said! I don’t know if you drink, nor can in matter in an internet forum, but that was beautiful, and I would buy you a round and praise your name. Thank you.

    Reply

  60. I hope that the debate is taped by both sides; Mr. Mero’s offer to have the Sutherland Institute record / video the event, generous though I’m sure it is, gives rise to an easy way for them to edit the record.

    Eric, I’ve not offered to be involved with these things because, though I’m a heterosexual woman in a heterosexual relationship, we look “weird” so there’s no way for us to be inconspicuous.

    Reply

  61. Posted by White Married Man on February 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Paul Mero,
    You are worried about marriage becoming an institution of the state instead of religion. If you have not noticed the only reason that what you perceive as marriage rights are being fought for in government is because it has become a state institution. You even made the state your guardian of your definition of marriage (you probably voted for amendment 3).

    I am sure that you feel that your God knew the power to define marriage needed to be given to the government, and what it meant to give that power to a government that believes in justice, liberty, religious freedom, etc. He would not have had Gordon B. Hinckly tell the church that the church supported constitutional amendments if God did not want that power transferred to the state. Just like God knew that women’s rights and black rights needed to be taken away from the religious majority and transferred to the state because his “followers” trampled them under their feet and did not understand his love or purpose.

    Reply

  62. Posted by Paul Mero on February 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    If I may…in my last post here…the grand delusion seems to regard the above statement that says, in caps, “no one is asking for their sexual behavior to matter.”

    The grand delusion is that you truly believe there is this human called “gay” that doesn’t require any human action to be “gay.” Hence, you all believe you’re born that way…i.e. that you don’t have to have sexual relations to be “gay.” That’s just nonsense. You can’t hetero without the sexual and you can’t homo without the sexual…especially under the law, that requires human action.

    So you want to codify “sexual orientation”…something that ranges from vague to non-existent…and reject any connection between “gay” and sexual behavior…which is the only thing (human action) that law can understand.

    So when I stress “sexual behavior” over just being “gay,” I hurt your psyche. As most of you put it, I’ve then insulted you or have acted with mean-spirited malice…because you think you just are that way…that “that way” doesn’t require any human action whatsoever.

    So here we are…all in one room…and two men with us say we’re “gay”…you say “that’s just who they are”…and I say, “oh so you guys have sex with each other.” Why do I respond that way? Because without the sex there is no definition of “gay” for anyone to agree upon in law.

    But, I get it. You prefer to think that there is this thing called “gay,” or same-sex “attraction,” that you want recognized under law…even if no one can define it. In other words, and not with just a little bit of irony, your “equality” is impossible because anyone can say anything, without doing anything, and it all must be protected under law…no matter its human and social value…just because you “feel” that way.

    And then you think…so what? All we’re saying is treat us equally…our homosexuality is no different than your (my) heterosexuality. What you have, we want…in fact, all that is decent demands it. And I say…no, don’t think so…my heterosexuality is substantively different to society than your homosexuality. And then that’s where we start to talk about the importance of family structure, the complementarity of men and women, having and rearing children, etc. In other words, the 232 year old “rational basis” the courts have used to recognize and encourage legal marriage and family structure and child-bearing and child-rearing.

    When you read my remarks from the other night at Thanksgiving Point, you’ll now understand why I hung my hat on the meaning of liberty and the differences between the liberty of the American Revolution and the liberty of the French Revolution. You guys are the modern-day equivalent of French Revolutionaries…who hated God, family, and country because those three traditions established norms and mores…and who cherished a liberty and equality so undefined that anyone could do whatever they wanted…leading to the Reign of Terror.

    But all that is much too philosophical, and irrelevant, for you guys to grasp…because all you want is acceptance and recognition…from everyone. Well, like the French Revolutionaries of old, you’ll have to start the Terror to get rid of most of the world who simply won’t do that for you.

    Perhaps one of the biggest ironies in this whole debate is that while we closed-minded bigots say live and let live…just don’t press on law and policy…you guys ultimately would have us outlawed for simply believing differently from you…you would pass a law against what you would call “discrimination” and us bigots would be put away (let SF be your model government). That’s how wonderfully liberal and progressive you are.

    Eric, you have been kind to allow me to post here. But ultimately it’s like teaching a pig to sing: it’s really impossible and it only annoys the pig. Sorry to annoy you.

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

      Paul;

      I sincerely do hope that this was not your final comment, and that you decide to come back and speak with me again, I always enjoy it.

      One thing though, while some of the commentators, myself included, have attempted to point out what we see as flaws in your arguments or thinking, it is interesting that you would feel the need to end the debate with simple insults. Well, unfortunately, if you are attempting to get anyone upset or to fly into a rage you will be sadly disappointed. We’ll let you stand on your own with that type of commentary. Good luck in all your endeavors!

      Eric Ethington, (Proudly, the Pig)

      Reply

  63. Posted by Joshua Zollinger on February 8, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Marie: That was quite possibly the best arguments so far in this entire discussion. My compliments, and I’d toast to that with Shane, assuming I drank, which, being LDS, I do not.

    creativepaul: Please learn to spell and use correct grammar and puntuation, or at least make an attempt at it. The way you write now tends to make people disregard what you say, since it makes you sound uneducated.

    Proud Mom: It seems to me that you should look at your own advice, since the only purpose I can see in your post was to be “flippant and dismissive” and “venomous”.

    Paul: I’d just like to thank you for having a rational discussion on this forum. It’s certainly a nice change of pace to have someone coherently explain their viewpoints, especially in the face of near total opposition in a case like this. I apologize, even though it’s not my fault, for any hateful comments made based on your views. I certainly understand where you are coming from now. Even though I disagree with your beliefs and your logic, I appreciate the time and effort it took to explain them the way you did.

    When Shane asked you when you chose to be straight, he was not referring to your sexual behavior, he was referring to your sexual orientation. When you choose to have sex only with your wife, that’s sexual behavior, in your case monogomous heterosexuality. When you are attracted to and love you wife, in a completely nonsexual way, that’s sexual orientation. I know several members of the LGBT community who have told me that they are still virgins. Ergo, it is possible for them to be non-heterosexual and not engage in sexual activity. It’s simply a matter of who they are attracted to. Which is why the assumption that any discussion about a non-hetero partner refers to sex is incorrect and should not be a legal basis for discrimination.

    To everyone reading this: As I stated before, I’ve discussed this issue often, on both sides, over the last several months. The thing that I’ve noticed is that all of the arguments seem to center around one fundamental disagreement. Most of the people who are opposed to laws such as the common grounds bill think of homosexuality as a choice, while those who are not opposed to them think of it as an inherent trait. The way I just put it to Eric is that one side thinks of homosexuality as a conscious form of counterculture, much like getting a tattoo, while the other thinks of it like the color of your skin. From their point of view, getting a visible tattoo puts you under a stereotype of their customers that would negatively affect their business, and being openly homosexual does exactly the same thing. There is no law protecting people who have tattoos, and, in fact, someone getting a visible tattoo, especially one that could offend people, is a valid reason for firing them. So why should homosexuality be different? This is the fundamental difference between the two opposing points of view, and until this difference is resolved, there is ALWAYS going to be opposition.

    Fortunately for the LGBT community and their allies, like me, the proof is on our side, and medical knowledge will eventually be accepted by society. It’s only a matter of time. By the way, Paul, are you saying that all of the medical organizations Eric mentioned are “politicized association’s” and not “real medical evidence”?

    Reply

  64. Posted by Scott on February 8, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Paul: I didn’t think you could do it and I’m not in the least surprised that I was right. I’m also offended that you think I don’t love my family or my country or have a relationship with God, simply because I am gay. That’s how I know you’re on the wrong side of history and I can say nothing more to you than you should hang your head in shame.

    Reply

  65. Posted by Elaine Ball on February 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Re: Perhaps one of the biggest ironies in this whole debate is that while we closed-minded bigots say live and let live…just don’t press on law and policy…you guys ultimately would have us outlawed for simply believing differently from you…you would pass a law against what you would call “discrimination” and us bigots would be put away (let SF be your model government). That’s how wonderfully liberal and progressive you are.

    Paul, I sense a lot of fear here. Actually I say continually that I would protect/defend with my life your right to live your life according to your beliefs just as much as I am fighting now to protect and defend my right to live my life according to my beliefs. Allowing a member of the LGBT community to have rights equal to those afforded your daily life, would in no way contribute to the “putting away” of “closed-minded bigots.” I am liberal and progressive. I turn the other cheek. No matter how much you hate me, I will turn around and love you until, hopefully, one day, you can learn to love me back.

    Reply

  66. What difference does it make if one’s sexuality is inborn? The LDS Church (and many other groups and churches) participated in institutionalized discrimination against people who were born black for most of their history, so even if they were to accept real science on the matter (twin studies, interestingly, also find that religiosity — though not affiliation — is genetic!), that doesn’t mean they have to be civil.

    And Mr. Mero shows his lack of civility so well. The saddest part is that he thinks Jesus is proud of his behavior…

    Jesus wept.

    Reply

  67. As I have been following all of these comments, all I have to say is, Amen, Elaine. Amen.

    Reply

  68. Wow, great recap and discussion. For those of us outside Utah, it’d be great if this could be x-posted elsewhere for others to read and appreciate.

    Reply

  69. Great debate everyone. I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments.

    What I’ve been seeing more and more from the anti-gay-rights crowd does seem to follow a fear-based pattern, that does seem to say much more about that side than anything.

    “I’m uncomfortable with seeing gay men kiss, so it should be illegal”

    “I’m uncomfortable with the thoughts of gay sex that pop into my head whenever someone mentions they are gay, so it should be illegal”

    “I’m uncomfortable with doing business with gay people, so the fact that they can be fired for being gay should remain legal”

    I’d like to argue that you are uncomfortable with these things because you have been taught to be uncomfortable about these things. It is societal and generational, and as the older generations die off, so will such outmoded thinking. Those of us that believe that all people should be equal will not stop working for equality.

    Perhaps the anti folks could learn a bit more about projection, how to deal constructively with fears and phobias, and their own sexual hangups. Then they might evolve in this time, rather than having to wait for the next.

    Reply

  70. Posted by Rhonda on February 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I agree Chino, Eric is a GREAT writer and his blog is amazing!!! Thanks Eric.

    Reply

  71. Posted by Adair on February 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Ha, I should have read this when Josh linked to it on facebook!

    I’d like to point out that when Paul Mero uses the words “sexual behavior”, he isn’t talking about sexual behavior at all–kissing, hugging, genital contact, hitting on someone, or anything else on the spectrum. He’s talking about the sexes of the people involved in sexual behavior that involves two (or presumably more) people. Discrimination based on sex has no place in law or in sane society. It’s still sexism if you’re saying a person of a certain sex has no place in a certain situation, because of their sex, even if that situation be a romantic relationship with a person of a specified sex.

    He’s challenged us on our definitions of sexual orientation and gender (the latter at the very least when calling a transgendered woman a “man dressed as a woman”). However, I could come up with, from my head or published sources, several competing definitions of those–and why does he think his definitions of sex, gender, sexuality, and sexual behavior are set in stone?

    Reply

  72. Posted by Lu Prickett on February 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Mr. Mero, once again you successfully skirted the question.
    We all choose our sexual BEHAVIOR, but that’s not what you were asked.

    When did you chose your gender preference???

    Reply

  73. I’d suggest x-posting at these four sites: Daily Kos, myDD, Pam’s House Blend, TPMCafé.

    Or you could post at OpEdNews instead of TPMCafé (either site will get you picked up by Google News).

    Before posting at Daily Kos, you might want to let us know the date/time you’ll be posting, so we can quickly get some recs and comments sent your way once you do.

    Reply

  74. Posted by Kate on February 9, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    “Eric, you have been kind to allow me to post here. But ultimately it’s like teaching a pig to sing: it’s really impossible and it only annoys the pig. Sorry to annoy you.”

    He thanked you for being kind before insulting you. Very interesting. Well, if you are a pig, you’re the cutest one I’ve ever seen my friend!!!

    Reply

  75. Posted by Dominique on February 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    I’m simply astounded at how ignorant Mr. Mero is. I’m amazed he thinks Jesus would be on his side. I’m sickened by his constant, ad nauseum reference to sex.

    I know of several friends who have been in reparitive therapy. They speak often of how focused therapist were on the actual sexual acts, wanting play-by-play detail. My friends who were survivors of childhood sexual abuse and/or rape said they felt re-offended every day by these perverted therapists.

    Mr. Mero mirrors similar addictive focus in every one of his posts.

    Mr. Mero seriously needs psychiatric help. According to the DSM IV, he fits the following diagnoses:
    1. Sexual Addiction, Sexual Compulsivity, and Sexual Preoccupation, NOS;
    2. Borderline Personality Disorder;
    3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder;

    I could refer him to some reparitive therapy institutions:
    1. Evergreen Institute (SLC, UT)
    2. Del Amo Hospital (Del Amo, CA)
    3. UNI (University of Utah, SLC, UT)
    4. ISAT (SLC, UT)
    5. Woodland Center (West Central, MN)

    Reply

  76. Posted by Rachel on February 9, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    THIS IS A COPY OF AN EMAIL SENT BY RACHEL TO PAUL MERO OF THE SUTHERLAND INSTITUTE

    Dear Mr. Mero,

    I read with interest the discussion that proceeded on Eric Ethington’s weblog regarding the Sutherland Institute meeting at Thanksgiving Point. I’m writing you directly rather than posting to the blog, since it appeared you ended your correspondence on that thread.

    There is a piece to this discussion that I feel is sorely lacking and that would contribute to the conversation. Now, I don’t want to make presumptions about anyone’s particular religious affiliations, but due to the demographics in this state, references to LDS publications are often germane. This comes from the pamphlet released by the LDS church in 2007 that comprises their most recent statement on homosexuality. It is called, “God Loveth His Children.” I am quoting from pages 3-4 of that pamphlet.

    “In some circumstances a person defers marriage because he or she is not presently attracted to a member of the opposite gender. While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life. However, the perfect plan of our Father in Heaven makes provision for individuals who seek to keep His commandments but who, through no fault of their own, do not have an eternal marriage in mortal life. As we follow Heavenly Father’s plan, our bodies, feelings, and desires will be perfected in the next life so that every one of God’s children may find joy in a family consisting of a husband, a wife, and children.
    Same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. All of Heavenly Father’s children desire to love and be loved, including many adults who, for a variety of reasons, remain single. God assures His children, including those currently attracted to persons of the same gender, that their righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing.” (emphasis mine)

    We have at hand an acknowledgment by the Church that the situations of individuals with same-gender attraction are “through no fault of their own” – in other words, they did not choose their situation. Additionally, the Church acknowledges “same-gender attractions include deep emotional, social and physical feelings.” The Church has hit upon a fundamental truth about God’s gay children; same-gender attraction is not solely about behavior. In particular, it is not solely about physical, sexual behavior. And same-gender attraction is not chosen any more than opposite-gender attraction is.

    On the Sutherland Institute website, I encountered a statement made by yourself that I wholeheartedly agree with; and I was tremendously encouraged that you had said it. “Understanding others is more important than persuading others.” Let’s all do our best by our opponents, and (by extension) by ourselves, in this discussion.

    Best regards,
    Rachel Carter

    Salt Lake City

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric "The Pig" on February 9, 2009 at 11:35 pm

      THIS IS THE REPLY RACHEL RECEIVED FROM PAUL MERO:

      Thanks Rachel.

      I don’t believe that you are interpreting that comment correctly…”through no fault of their own.” IOW, their not married through no fault of their own. But , you are justified to question it…I think it’s a poorly crafted sentence that uses a very common term in LDS single culture.

      But that’s just my opinion. I am the last one to speak for the LDS Church.

      Best, PTM

      Reply

  77. Mr Paul Mero doesn’t know how to play the technology game, if he did he would already have posted his “meeting” for all to view. Reality, he knows if the general populace saw what went on in that and other hate based meetings he would be tarred and feathered.

    http://www.gayleruzicka.com

    Reply

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