Archive for November, 2009

Senator Chris Buttars Supports Gay Rights

Sen. Chris Buttars

Apparently the LDS / Mormon Church supporting the Salt Lake City ordinances last week, banning discrimination against the LGBT (gay) community in matters of housing and employement, is the equivalent of a 500 lb loaf of pumpkin bread. Huh… maybe all I had to do was bake more?

In an unexpected announcement today, Utah State Senator Chris Buttars (R – West Jordan) announced that due to the LDS or Mormon Church’s statements this past week, he now supports fair workplace and housing laws for the LGBT community on a state level. “I agree with what the Church said,” Buttars told KUTV news, “that an individual should be able to have a roof over their head and have a job, and not worry about being fired..”

Buttars is of course known state-wide for his fierce opposition to anything that resembles gay rights, including his critical role in working to ban Gay-Straight Alliances in Utah schools. His fame reached national media attention this past year with his now infamous comments to director Reed Cowan for an interview in Cowans’ upcoming film Mormon Proposition, in which Buttars declares gay people to be “the biggest threat to America going down..”

Back in January of this year, I had a chance to speak with Senator Buttars at his home in a community-outreach effort with PRIDE In Your Community. During what has been called the “Pumpkin Bread Talks” Chris Buttars made it very clear that although he claimed to be sympathetic, he was in no way favoring supporting any rights for one of Utah’s minorities, including workplace and housing protections.

So why the sudden change of heart? Our illustrious Senator claims that it was the Mormon Church’s public statements, however inside sources have shed some light on some closed-door statements made by LDS Church officials, including the phrase “we’ve got him [Buttars] under control.”

KUTV’s interview with the Sentator concluded as you would expect, give-a-little, take-a-lot. While with the support of Chris Buttars, fair workplace and housing laws may very well pass the legislature this year, however he will also be pushing to make it illegal for any other city in Utah to pass anti-discrimination laws, everything else will be required to go through at a state level.

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Mayor Ralph Becker Signs Anti-Discrimination Laws

San Francisco signed Fair Workplace and Housing laws into effect with Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone in 1979, now 30 years later Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker signs his name to the list of champions of human rights.

This afternoon, before a crowd of 50-100 people, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker follow the recommendation of the Salt Lake Human Rights Commission and signed into law the recently approved Fair Workplace and Housing ordinances with cheers from onlookers. Earlier this year, the Human Rights Commission, led by Jon Jepsen delivered a report to the Mayor and the City Council detailing discriminations that are being visited on a large number of Salt Lake City residents. According to the report, members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community in Salt Lake are being unfairly treated, as under current laws in Salt Lake it is legal to fire, refuse to employ, evict and refuse housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Salt Lake is behind the majority of this country” when it comes to these rights said Jepsen, and something needs to be done about it. The Mayor went further and said he hoped these rights would spread “throughout the rest of the state.”

Paul Mero Pushing Mormons To Ignore The Church?

Paul Mero

In a press release last night, Sutherland Institute President Paul Mero announced a special event taking place tomorrow night where he will address the relationship between Mormonism and conservative thought.  Back-peddling much?

Since Sutherland Institute’s statements following the LDS / Mormon church’s support of SLC’s Fair Workplace and Housing ordinances, Paul Mero has been under some pretty heavy fire from Sutherland’s constituents, opponents and even the LDS / Mormon Church itself.

Jeffrey Holland of the LDS / Mormon Quorum of the Twelve (12) Apostles followed up the Church’s support of the city-wide gay rights ordinances with aJeffrey R. Holland call for the rights to be passed state-wide, saying, “Anything good is shareable.”

Unfortunately for Sutherland Institute and Mero, their entire organization and base of power is derived from their stance on gay rights aligning with the Church. So what happens now that the Church has gone ever-so-slightly more liberal?

The tile of Paul Mero’s speech for tomorrow night, Why I am a Conservative: The Relationship Between Mormonism and Conservative Intellectual Thought is pretty telling actually. Now I’m going to at least attempt to be nice and not point at the generally pompous title, which just drips with Mero’s usual “harrumph harrumph” as my family would say, but focus rather on the subject matter for the night. According to Sutherland insiders (who requested not to be named), the speech has a few different goals, but the primary goal is to assuage the mind of those supporters who are now upset with Sutherland Institute’s apparent break from the LDS / Mormon Church. “We have to try to stop the bleeding,” our source said.

As usual in any “sermon” given my Mero, the actual words coming out of his mouth mean little to nothing, just a hidden message coated in smarmy oil, wrapped in a deep voice and disguised in faux intellectual prose. But what is he actually saying? Well Paul really only has 3 ways to go here, he can either admit that Sutherland Institute was wrong and the LDS / Mormon Church has it right and support Fair Workplace and Housing ordinances for the LGBT community; Explain that Sutherland Institute cannot support these issues, but because of their beliefs in their religion they cannot continue to operate publicly; or the most likely of them all, try to convince their flock that they can still be good Mormons even if they’re fighting against the Church itself.

Hmmmmmm, tough decision for Paul I’m sure..

New LDS / Mormon Bombshell (Maybe)

Speculation on what will happen with Salt Lake City’s new Fair Workplace and Housing laws in the upcoming session is flying. But some new insights into the LDS / Mormon Church’s plans are shocking!

Since the LDS / Mormon Church announced its support of the Salt Lake City ordinances to ban discrimination of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community this past week, analysis of their motivation has been the number one topic of discussion. Some think the Mormons were actually

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LDS / Mormon Headquarters

seeking to send an olive branch, while others (including myself) have claimed it was just a PR stunt attempting to shift the constant barrage of self-created negative press away from themselves for a while. Even Utah’s (UT) self-labeled and so-called “conservative think tanks” like Paul Mero with the Sutherland Institute and Gayle Ruzicka of the Eagle Forum have for the first time come out in opposition to the LDS / Mormon leadership.

But now some interesting insights are arising from these meetings that the LDS / Mormon leadership held with local Gay Rights leaders of the LGBT community. Apparently one very important concern that the local community leaders addressed was the very concern I posted about a few days ago, that these rights would be passed on the city level, just to be squashed by the legislature this Spring. But according to one source, Church leaders assuaged those doubts, going so far as to speak of one of the primary opponents of human rights saying, “the one whose name sounds like something you’d put on toast, we have him under control.”

So what should we draw from this? Could it be possible that the LDS / Mormon leadership plans on pushing these rights to the state level as the legislative session starts? It’s definitely a growing possibility with ENDA on the verge of passing on the federal level and more and more calls nationwide for these basic protections even from staunch conservatives. I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope.

America Forever Responds to the LDS Church

You know how some people just don’t know how to shut up? Yeah…. for the Rodrigues family, aka “America Forever.” That time was just after they got out of diapers.

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Sandra Rodrigues of America Forever

With their constant spewing against the LGBT community, they have now become virtually one of the biggest PRO LGBT groups around! With every other anti-LGBT and anti- human rights group like the Sutherland Institute (Paul Mero) and Eagle Forum (Gayle Ruzicka) just wishing they’d shut up and go away.

Earlier this week at the now infamous City Council meeting in Salt Lake City, which ended with a unanimous vote to provide Fair Workplace and Housing laws for LGBT citizens, America Forever leaders like Sandra Rodrigues decided that showing naivete would be the best road to take. Their rants included stories about the “little old lady” who rents out her basement and would be forced to rent to “the gays” who would make out in front of her grandchildren, and the small business owner who would have his employees “acting all gay” around him. Unfortunately for America Forever, both grandma and any business under 15 employees are actually exempt under these ordinances, but hey.. technicality right?

Times were when America Forever could be counted on to show up at every opportunity with their 12′ by 4′ signs shouting “shame on the gays,” but we haven’t seen them for a while! Where have they been? Well apparently Sandra Rodrigues, chief kook of the kooks, was called in to her bishop a month or so ago and asked to stop being so public because it was making the church look bad!

Now that the LDS church publicly endorsed the fair workplace and housing ordinances in Salt Lake City, the Rodrigues clan is none-too-happy with the Mormon leadership. Below is their flyer that they faxed to 80,000 people and businesses this week. My response? Keep up the good work kooks!

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[amerforever.jpg]

 

UPDATE:
To anyone who received this fax and is upset and/or offended by it. Sending out mass faxes such as this is illegal.

You can file your complaint using an on-line complaint form found at esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by e-mailing fccinfo@fcc.gov; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC(1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division… Read More
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554.

Equality Spreads To Southern Utah

With most of the country still under shock at Salt Lake City’s human rights victory, the city council’s vote is impacting the rest of Utah as well.

Over the past week we’ve heard rumblings now from both Salt Lake County and Park City that their own ordinances providing workplace and housing rights / protections are soon coming. But now news is coming up from Southern Utah University (SUU) in Cedar City.

Two months ago, SUU’s Queer Straight Alliance Director Ashlie Meredith

ashlie

Ashlie Meredith

noticed that Sexual Orientation was not listed along side of race, age, religion, sex etc. as deserving of equal protection and opportunity in the University’s policies and procedures handbook.

Since then, Ashlie Meredith has been leading the charge to have this discrimination removed from the school. On Nov 4th this year, the Student Senate passed a resolution asking the faculty to add sexual orientation. The resolution will now head to the faculty senate later this month, and if approved will then be sent on the the Board of Trustees in December.

Unfortunately however, the SUU Queer Straight Alliance have their work cut out for them. The University’s legal counsel Michael Carter has already advised the school against adding these protections, claiming they are unnecessary and unwanted by the community until the State Legislature passes these protections state-wide.

But with the passing of these lgbt human rights protections in Salt Lake City, the endorsement by the LDS / Mormon Church and the pending passage of the same rights in Salt Lake County and Park City, momentum is rolling and the school is coming under increasing fire.

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SUU

Currently, only three university’s in Utah don’t include sexual orientation under their equal-opportunity clauses, Southern Utah University, Brigham Young University (BYU) and Utah Valley University (UVU, formerly UVSC).

Paul Mero Splits From The Church

You know, never thought I’d see the day when Paul Mero and the Sutherland Institute split from the LDS (Mormon) Church. mero

Earlier this week LDS Inc supported the Salt Lake City Council in passing fair workplace and housing ordinances, making it illegal in Salt Lake City to deny a person housing or a job based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Ironically, two of the loudest and brash local anti-humanity groups who normally use the Mormon Church as their claim to morality broke sides with the Church that they claim to believe is always in the right. The “America Forever” Rodriguez family spoke out immediately at the public hearing before the City Council but although Sutherland’s Jeffrey Reynolds was in the crowd, Sutherland did not immediately made a statement.

November 10th however, featured a small statement hidden away on one of their sub pages saying that the LDS Church’s view on the matter was “parochial” and essentially incorrect as allowing someone who is LGBT to keep their home can only lead to same-sex marriage. They went on to say that the Church’s statement were just a PR stunt and that the LDS leadership is just trying to “assuage the minds and soften the hearts of advocates of “gay rights” in Utah.”

Now the critical bit about this new statement from the “Meronites” is the essential bond that has always existed between Sutherland and the Mormon Church. The vast majority of Sutherland’s “constituents” are faithful LDS members, which means that Sutherland is now in essence trying to “lead the flock away” from the teachings of the prophet. Wait… did Mero just join the dark side? How will he answer that fun fun temple recommend question that questions if he is associated with any organization that goes against what the Church has said?

Well either way, I don’t know where Sutherland can go from here as they may quickly find out what happens to organizations that aren’t on the same side as the Mormons in Utah. I wonder if their followers will catch on, or if Sutherland will sweep this under the rug and pretend like the Church never spoke at all?

Related article(s):

Daily Kos

Salt Lake Crawler