What US Mormons can learn from NZ Mormons about gay stuff

It sure beats me how the issue of opposing same-sex unions became such a hot political potato in the United States.  I mean, is it REALLY that important?  I mean REALLY?

While Iraqi civilians were being killed in their hundreds of thousands, and US and Allied troops we being killed and maimed in their thousands, and while a nation was being ravaged by an invasion which frankly still has most of the world baffled (except George Bush, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly), the political attention of the LDS community was apprehended by an obsession with California Proposition 8.  Prop 8 was a ballot proposition to amend the California state constitution which effectively restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples only. The US church waded in boots and all to leverage the might of the not insignificant LDS community in  California to get a ‘Yes’ on the ballot.  In NZ you wouldn’t have heard about it except if you were nosey like me.

I don’t intend to go into the ins and outs of the debacle but I have to come back to the question – was it really worth it?  As a New Zealander I must admit to looking on in bewilderment at this Prop 8 business and wondering why on earth the church got themselves involved in something so obviously punitive and frivolous as spending time, money and resources on Prop 8 when among other things their might could have been with World Council of Churches in opposing the invasion of Iraq.  WHAT THE HECK?

Yes I know its old news but it still baffles me.  It baffles me as a New Zealander who has lived in a country which with little in the way of religious grandstanding quietly passed the Civil Union Act in 2004 allowing for same-sex couples to have their relationship solemnized.  I do recall a letter floating through the wards at the time asking us to object or some such thing, but it went past most of our noses without much fanfare as I don’t believe we expected anything cataclysmic  if it did pass.  Marching down streets and chanting, handing out leaflets, baring testimony in church, getting on TV, sticking things to our cars seemed like such an American thing to do and got no leverage here.

We’ve had Civil Unions now for 7 years.  Quietly and with dignity a few of my gay friends and acquaintances have married.  And despite popular conservative US opinion that the sky would  fall down on any society which allows for gay marriage, heterosexual marriages remain as volatile, beautiful, messy and lovely as they did before.  Children of LGBT families continue to grow up as normal, healthy and happy kids, our schools aren’t infected with a scourge of ‘viral homosexuality’,  society hasn’t imploded and gay kids aren’t shooting themselves on the doorsteps of their local meetinghouse.  But people are still greedy, people still exploit the labour of others by keeping communities poor, they still get into stupid international scraps.  People are still brutalizingly competitive, are still jobless and are still losing their homes.  The wealthy are still sucking at the teat of the corporation, ma and pa businesses are still going bankrupt and universities are still treating education like a private good.  I think we have a lot more to worry about eh?

Consider the repercussions in both national contexts for one minute and ask yourself the question, was the campaign for Prop 8 REALLY worth it?  There are so many things we could be putting our hands up to defend and throwing our collective weight behind – that I’m truly baffled by this one. I anticipate that there will be those who will offer diatribes of religious indignation that I should in anyway sympathize with a cause that many in the  US church seems to have opposed. But  I can only offer my heart felt gratitude that I’m pleased that I can look openly and honestly into the faces of my gay friends and family knowing that at least here, Mormonism isn’t dancing a jig between us, that I don’t have to account for a spate of suicides of gay LDS kids, and I don’t have to front up at church and listen to people bearing testimonies of heterosexuality.

I don’t really know the great biological, genetic or canonical story behind homosexuality, and frankly I’m not sure any parlor theorists can be trusted on this one either.   I’m just satisfyingly comfortable being here in NZ where we dodged a bullet, where in the absence of any committed home and visiting teachers a gay couple who are cherished friends came to our rescue when we needed to go away and looked after our huge family asking nothing in return.  I love that when my gay  LDS friend died the Relief Society took casseroles  to her partner and the bishop invited her to say a few words at the funeral.  I love that I can talk to gay friends and family about their loves and losses without another dialogue banging away in my head, begging me to see them as a political abomination.

Yes there are issues with competing religious and culture identities out here in the boonies – but I can’t see in this matter that  I mind one jot.  Anyway, who are we as a church to talk about sexually aberrant practices?

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