Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chapter 5: A Moral Case for LDS Same-Sex Marriage

I love and support the LDS church and it’s leaders- and encourage you to do so as well, whether a member of the church or not.  I have a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the LDS church.  This testimony is strengthened by my regular temple attendance (for a year I was also a temple worker), consistent service in the church, faithful church attendance, fasting, and daily prayers and scripture study.  I have always had a special appreciation for the Book of Mormon, whose inspired passages guide my life and decisions.  Deep down, I’m little more than an EFY counselor who loves to have fun and teach the gospel.  Though I will make a strong moral case for LDS SSM, please remember:
1)      Neither this book nor this chapter is to be interpreted as promoting homosexual relations or seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior.  I do not oppose any doctrines or policies of the church.  I do not believe in advising the Lord’s representatives or forcing them into my way of thinking.  However, I do believe in badgering the Lord for revelation- because it is the only reliable mechanism for getting answers that I know.
2)      Though I am still seeking the Lord’s will regarding SSM and evaluating the arguments for and against it, I have been publicly active in opposing same-sex marriage.  In the fall of 2009 I volunteered with Protect Marriage Maine to help call voters in Maine to oppose same-sex marriage legislation there (which opposition prevailed).  Earlier this year I sacrificed considerable time to help organize BYU’s Stand For the Family Student Symposium.  To use another SSM-analyzing author’s words, “I come to this as a true believer in the special importance and unique qualities of the institution of marriage.  For all its failings in particular cases, and for all the stress it has borne lately, marriage is the great civilizing institution.[i]
3)      That a strong moral case for LDS SSM exists does not necessarily imply that the moral case against SSM is weaker.  A key outcome of a successful education is the ability to make a persuasive argument advancing a proposition with which one personally disagrees.  If successful, my rigorous presentation of the pro-SSM position will help traditional marriage defenders sharpen their advocacy as a consequence of understanding their opposition better. 
Now back to the task at hand.  To make this moral case, I ask you to embark on a thought experiment with me into a world independent of the one you know- specifically, a world exactly like this one, with two exceptions: 1) that homosexual conduct is sinful is not a necessary moral conclusion; and 2) that SSM is wrong is not a necessary moral conclusion.  The purpose for these exceptions is to engender a forward, (i.e. take a look at evidence, then conclude) rather than a retrospective, (make the conclusion first, then interpret evidence through that lens) evaluation.  I believe what I’ve asked of you is a truly awkward mental task- but please take a minute to really complete it.  (You’ve already practiced awkward mental tasks, right?  Remember suspending your views per my request in the introduction?)  Once you're inside the world, read on.  Remember, this is a thought experiment, a safe zone which cannot be construed as the author’s view on the morality of SSM in the actual world.  Again, because of how often this chapter has been misinterpreted as my real-world views toward SSM, I underline- a thought experiment is a departure from the real world into the realm of imagination.

26 good reasons why, inside this thought experiment, LDS members and the LDS church should support SSM for homosexually oriented people 
Are you inside with me?  Okay, here we go-

1. Homosexual orientation is not all about lust

In the past five decades there has been a careful and successful “lustification” of homosexual orientation in a large portion of the population.  Many of the most potent of these “lustifications” have been declared by past and present church leaders, who have systematically characterized heterosexual orientation as exalting and desirable (though it can be perverted into lust), while scorning homosexual orientation as only base, abominable, and solely about lustful sex.  More recently, in contrast, the church has said: “The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings.[ii]
“It is hard to escape the conclusion that the aversion many heterosexuals mount against homosexuality is based on a feeling of repugnance for the physical nature of love-making between persons of the same gender. Unable to imagine themselves engaging in such activity, they (heterosexuals) may perceive it to be unnatural, a perversion. It must be admitted, however, that the intimacies of sex are somewhat mysterious, sometimes overwhelming even for recently married men and women. It is the contemporary LDS view that physical affection in marriage is not only proper, but an essential component in a healthy, fulfilling relationship, sustained by mutual concern and respect for one’s partner. Importantly, since this is deemed a private matter, the mechanics of love-making are neither prescribed nor proscribed, thoughtfulness and sensitivity to the feelings of one’s mate being the most important consideration. The private and personal character of sex also obtains in a homosexual context in which there is also an emphasis on appropriate balance, that sex should not assume a dominant role at the expense of the other necessary psychological and spiritual elements in the monogamous association of two people in love with each other. While properly arguing that a long-lasting and satisfying relationship between a man and a woman cannot be based on sex alone, it is also incumbent on critics not to believe that homosexual love is primarily based on erotic desire. The expression of homosexual love is no more governed by lasciviousness than is heterosexual love[iii].”
Sexual orientation, be it toward men or women, is about more than erotic desire.  For example- my mother loves and supports my father.  Within her is a sexual orientation toward men, a constellation of romantic/sexual/emotional susceptibilities/inclinations/orientation/attractions /feelings toward members of the opposite sex.  She has chosen to direct that constellation toward loving him and strengthening their relationship, which has resulted in unmeasured benefits to me and my siblings.  What if her sexual orientation were instead housed inside a man’s body?  Would my mother’s ability to choose to direct that orientation be lessened?  Would she (he) be any less capable of being my father’s “help meet?”  Of staying by my father’s bedside when he’s sick?  Would his hands be any less capable of making countless meals for my father and our family?  Of standing by my father through thick and thin?  Of making him a big lunch when he goes away for the day with a love note inside?  Of keeping marital vows?  Of pleasing him in bed (if he is also sexually oriented toward men)?    Of listening to him after a hard day at work?  Of going on long trips to the wilderness with his wanted-to-be-a-park-ranger spouse, despite preferring his familiar suburban home?  Of supporting him when he’s frequently away on church assignments?  Of tending to the kids during the night out of love for him?  I for one do not think so. 
Just as there exists a distribution along the spectrum from asexual to hypersexual for heterosexually oriented people, there exists a distribution along that same spectrum for homosexually oriented people.  My gay friend *Matthew, for instance, claims to be asexual, and describes his orientation in terms of romantic and emotional attraction and connection:
“I've always been faithful in the Church (and still am), but have never been able to be attracted to a girl, in spite of years of praying and working for it. Instead, I've found that I love guys, and in many cases care deeply about them and yearn to be close to them emotionally and physically; that is how it has been at least since I was 12 years old. But I don't want to have sex with them, contrary to what some people seem to be assuming: I am asexual, meaning I don't experience sexual attractions to anyone. I'm happy now to understand that God loves me, and I believe he may have made me this way for a reason.[iv] 

Another has written: “The need for us to be open on the issue of homosexual choice is especially strong since, in contrast to fear, or anger, or greed, or any one of a number of negative characteristics to be resisted and overcome, love for another human being is a fundamentally positive and noble attribute.[v]  One doesn’t have to recite the Hercules story to prove that one of the greatest errors in history has been to underestimate the motivating power of human romantic love.  (For those interested in the differences between the three separate, brain-mediated drives for sexual love, romantic love, and companionate love, I recommend Helen Fisher’s book Why We Love: the Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love).  If homosexual orientation is all about lust, why are so many of them seeking marriage- when they could engage in essentially unlimited homosexual conduct with one or multiple partners outside marriage?  Though homosexual orientation has often been compared or grouped with negatives such as pornography, temper, alcoholism, addiction, gambling, a covetous manner, and drug use- would we compare heterosexual orientation to any of these negatives?  In addition to the reality that homosexual orientation is not as transitory as these analogs, it is morally repugnant to demonize what can accomplish such incredible human good.   One author wrote:
“Homosexuality is no less of a complex interplay of emotions, affections, identity, needs, aspirations and sexuality than is heterosexuality. For most of the homosexuals I know, the feelings for one another are the most deep, warm, genuine expressions of love and compassion that two human beings are capable of sharing. Like heterosexuals, most of their affections are not explicitly sexual, nor is their relationship, when sexual, any more oral, anal, sado-masochistic or prone towards fetishes than is the heterosexual experience.[vi]
Wayne Schow:

“sexual morality is not just a matter of “thou shalt not.” “Thou shalt not” is a blunt instrument, a
negative, easy, and sometimes heavy-handed marker. If we believe that our sexuality is
something more than inherent evil, if we see our sexual nature as a vital part of our humanness
and as having the potential to raise us to a higher level of being, and if we would pursue the
opportunity for growth inherent in this nature, we must surpass the Pharisaical letter of the law to
find the more fulfilling and sublime positive aspects of sexual relationship with another.[vii]
Wrote Carol Lynn Pearson:
“A strong belief of mine is that sexuality is an awesome gift and should be treasured. I am impressed with the words of American publisher Margaret Anderson, who said, "In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person." I wholeheartedly believe that intimate access to the body of another person is the most supreme of privileges, that being in love—real love—wanting both the other person and the other person's highest good—is a breathtaking experience that brings us about the closest we mortals ever get to heaven.[viii]
Said another:
“It is common to hear the advice, “Even if you’re homosexual, you don’t have to act on your homosexual feeling.” The unspoken assumption in this sentiment is that what a homosexual experiences is lust. But what are the essential, healthy feelings of a gay person? As with heterosexuals, they are love, respect, admiration, or infatuation, for another human being. They are the natural feelings that accompany the dreams of becoming a spouse or partner. They are a love for children and a hope for the security, solidarity, and sanctity of a family. They are the feelings that accompany the hope of being a good parent. They are the feelings we all, heterosexual and homosexual alike, share in common as human beings. What is the origin of these feelings? They are the inheritance of spiritual offspring of divine parents, the results of lessons taught in the homes of active LDS families, all confirmed as good through life’s adult experiences. They are the feelings that have been cultivated by associating with the Saints. Not to act on those feelings? Not to be honest with oneself? Not to know who you are and be true to what you’ve been taught? How would those of us who are heterosexuals react to the suggestion that we should not act on those same feelings, feelings born in part from our innate sexuality and leading us to aspire to goodness and godliness? 
Those not closely acquainted with gay people may not have considered that they are capable of the same type of romantic feelings that characterize heterosexual love, something in addition to urges of a sexual nature. Nevertheless that is true. Falling in love can have the same positive emotional, spiritual, and moral qualities for a homosexual couple as for a heterosexual couple. Homosexual love is not counterfeit. What do Latter-day Saints (and others) who are in a committed gay relationship do? They get up in the middle of the night to care for a sick partner. They fix dinner, out of turn, when the person they love has had a bad day. They sacrifice in order to provide opportunities for the growth and development of their children. They resist the  temptation to be unfaithful. They send flowers. They coach little league baseball teams. They say, “I’m sorry.” They help in buying the groceries. They plant flowers and mow the lawn. They delight in the success and achievement of the one to whom they are devoted. They do their best to express the deepest feelings of their heart when they say, ‘I love you.’[ix]
Wrote one faithful member[x]:
“I too have needs to be fulfilled.  Homosexuality is not about sexual fulfillment but rather about emotional fulfillment.  Homosexuality is an internal drive for intimate companionship and bonding with one of one’s own sex.  Many homosexuals, confused by a lack of self-esteem and by social labeling as “perverts,” “queers,” and “degenerates,” have fallen into the trap of sexual promiscuity, trying desperately to meet an inner need by changing partners continuously.  Such promiscuity is as much a symptom of personal inadequacy and immaturity as promiscuity among heterosexuals.”
Carol Lynn Pearson argues similarly:
“Sexuality, I am convinced, is the life force itself- and not just the reproductive life force.  When a power so great is not allowed a respectable stage upon which to dance, it will nearly always come out in twisted and tortuous ways.  We have sadly learned from our Catholic friends, through the news of case after case of sexual molestation by priests, that celibacy is a calling for some but clearly not for all.  I am beginning to understand why some gay people have expressed their sexuality in ways that have shocked us.  I recently heard a very articulate gay man on Oprah say he is convinced that the promiscuity of many gay men is due to the shame they have absorbed.  With absolutely no societal, family, or spiritual support, with few role models, and under layers of learned self-loathing, I believe that many have been left one by one to reinvent the wheel of relationship, even to some extent the wheel of life.  I firmly believe that what they will do with societal, family, and spiritual support, excellent role models, and layers of self-respect is surely something that will bless us all.[xi]
Wrote another of the hypothetical of a straight person being told that all heterosexual conduct is a sin, whereas homosexual marriage is God’s plan for all His children[xii]:
“Let's suppose that you take this hypothetical demand seriously. After several years of determined effort, you realize that your heterosexual desires are, if anything, experienced more intensely, and you are as adverse to homosexuality as ever. You then decide to abstain. Your resolve requires a supreme effort. Your dreams and fantasies refuse to be suppressed. Your daily routine brings you constantly into contact with attractive women. The longer you abstain, the more persistent your desires become. Since you cannot have a woman and you don't want a man as your intimate companion, you maintain a limited rapport with both. Your social life, though it consumes much of your time and energy, is kept at a safe distance emotionally. No amount of church meetings, social functions or vocational preoccupations fills the void you experience for that warm, loving intimacy with a woman. Loneliness becomes the hallmark of your experience. Ten, twenty years of this isolation take their toll on your personality. You remain steadfast to your conviction, but you face old age with an ever-increasing sense of loneliness and unfulfillment. The question now needs to be asked, ‘Is such a life really morally neutral?’”
Cloy Jenkins continues:
“Recommending to the homosexual that he abstain from the sexual expression of who he is has far-reaching consequences. It cuts him off from the only real possibility open to him to experience love. The more frightening fact is that it unquestionably condemns him to a life of loneliness which cannot and is not ministered to by any facet of the Church or society. No amount of temple going, priesthood meetings, home teaching, or special interest activity will ease the loneliness. This can only be realized through a mature loving intimacy. The men whom I know who have followed the course of abstention have a conspicuous diminution of humanness in their lives. They are, for the most part, a mixture of flat, uninteresting, impoverished personalities with a conspicuous tenseness and anxiety that is never focused or constructively expended. Those around them sense their desperate need for warmth and affection but also an overriding coldness, prohibiting any closeness. Years ago, I met a young man here at BYU. I knew in an instant that he was homosexual and, moreover, that he was fighting it. I could tell it from a certain fierceness in his manner. I never saw him again for several years but was kept abreast of his activities, including his counsel from the Brethren, his marriage, and his subsequent divorce. I visited with him about five years ago, and he vigorously denied that he was homosexual though his behavior indicated otherwise. The most convincing indication to me was his fractured personality; a downright dull returned missionary type, so inappropriate for his age, and a hypertensity bordering on hysteria. I have visited with him several times since, and it appears he is slowly coming to accept the fact that he is homosexual but he has also attempted several cures. Now, as he approaches middle age, he is finally able to face his homosexuality and open up to who he really is. All of his years of abstaining and denial have taken their toll on him, but the most dramatic change for the better has taken place recently as he has straightforwardly fallen in love with another man. He is at last allowing himself to love and be loved, and his personality is warming, expanding, and maturing, and a soul, starved for all these years, is at last being nourished with affection and love.”
Homosexual love is not counterfeit.

2.  Family: the substance

What is family?  Let’s begin briefly with form, then discuss substance. 
The family form has two prongs: the number of genders and the number of partners.  The traditional family has two genders and two partners. 
What about the substance of family?  The core of the institution of the family is the marriage.  Even if no kids are ever brought in (say the couple is infertile), the Doug and Jenny Larsen family is no less a family: 
“Marriage to be sure is not instituted solely for procreation.  Rather, its very nature as an unbreakable compact between two persons… demand that the mutual love of the spouses, too, be embodied in a rightly ordered manner, that it grow and ripen.  Therefore, marriage persists as a whole manner and communion of life, and maintains its value and indissolubility, even when offspring are lacking- despite, rather often, the very intense desire of the couple.[xiii]
Also, from an LDS scholar-feminist:
“LDS prophets have emphasized that the marriage relationship is not a mere means to a good end, but a good end in itself which then makes possible other good ends.  Men and women are that they might have joy: the scripture does not say men and women are that they might have children…
But another very large part of the joy I feel is in the relationship I have with my spouse, which existed before we had children and will exist after the children have left our home to create their own.[xiv]
Thus, our question turns to: what is the substance of marriage?  One given answer by a well-known family science LDS author is: "united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, taking full responsibility for nurturing each other, they are truly married.[xv]"  One of the most important functions of marriage is to help someone become like God by abandoning a “me” identity and instead merging into a “we.”  Could this principle not apply to a homosexual couple as well as a heterosexual one?
Let’s assume for a moment that a homosexual union is for some reason “less” than a heterosexual one.  Just because it is unlikely or impossible for a seriously Down's Syndrome child to graduate from high school, let alone college, this fact does not imply that one should prohibit her from going to elementary school.  Similarly, even presuming a homosexual union does not qualify as a first-place ideal, why prohibit the homosexually oriented from approximating the ideal of marriage and family?  Take a look at a class of individuals- namely poor, uneducated Americans who grow up in divorced homes.  (I choose this class because their category is chosen about as much as is homosexual orientation).  Despite their elevated likelihood of themselves divorcing and thereby disadvantaging their own children (i.e. failing to reach the first-place ideal), one would nevertheless refrain from prohibiting their marrying, and would perhaps even try to assist them in building a stable marriage and family.  Since according to the presumption homosexually oriented people can hardly if ever make the ideal family, one should help them get as close to that ideal as they can rather than hedging up their way.  Said the Safe Space Declaration in 2004:
“We stand for the principle that love is not a sin. We believe that the focus on sexual orientation obscures the real underlying issues of sexual sin, which are founded on lust, greed, and sexual exploitation, found among both heterosexuals and homosexuals everywhere.
We stand for the institution of the family as the embodiment of love and commitment. The presence of a father, mother, and children living together is no guarantee of family success. The presence of true love and commitment within a family is a much better indicator. We believe that all families, regardless of the gender of those involved, should receive wholehearted sanction from our Church….[xvi]
There’s no physical reason why homosexually oriented people can’t get married and parent, as there is in the case of mentally handicapped persons.  Absent the barrier to entry that is the prohibition against SSM, homosexually oriented people become similarly situated to single church members, who as a general rule may marry who they want as long as they can persuade their available target to consent.  Neither celibacy nor promiscuity deliver a family experience.  Hetero and homosexual marriage do.  Thus we should encourage both- and as it would be repulsive and impractical for most fully homosexual members to enter heterosexual marriage, to say nothing of the risk to the spouse, SSM is the most intuitive vehicle through which to deliver a family experience. 
Let us continue to consider this question by exploring a homosexually oriented member’s perspective.  A faithful LDS homosexually-oriented member has primarily four lifestyle choices: 1) heterosexual marriage, 2) fidelity to a single homosexual partner, 3) lifelong celibacy, and 4) homosexual promiscuity.  Since homosexual promiscuity is a demonstrably unhealthy lifestyle, we should definitely seek to create and encourage superior alternatives.  How about heterosexual marriage?
“It is clear that our culture, in which everyone is expected to marry, puts enormous and excessive pressure on homosexuals to marry.  I am aware of the pressure on homosexuals because in the last fifteen years I’ve been studying this issue of same-sex attraction (SSA) and meeting with homosexuals in our culture.  Universally, they report feeling the pressure to marry.  Many homosexuals also report on their marriages which have ended in failure.  For example, in 1994 I surveyed an LDS homosexual group of 136 where 71 percent were returned missionaries (indicating their commitment to the church) and 36 had tried marriage.  They had been married an average of nine years and had an average of 2.5 children.  Only two of the 36 were still married…
Evergreen, a resource group committed to promoting change therapy for homosexual Latter-day Saints, helps create this problem by promoting the idea that persons can “transition out of homosexuality.” This idea is also promoted by many ecclesiastical leaders, most of whom are not well informed about the nature of homosexuality.  The extent of the problem is seen in the fact that Evergreen receives over 150 requests for help each month from those with homosexual attractions; 40 percent of these requests come from men who are married.  Only 10 percent of the calls come from women.  The remaining 50 percent are from single men.  This pattern indicates a great deal of social pressure on LDS men with homosexual attractions to marry heterosexually, with unfortunate outcomes for many of them and their spouses and children. 
It is possible that Ben [a homosexual male] can achieve a successful marriage, but, unfortunately, the odds are against him and Jessie [a heterosexual female].  An increasing body of data, some mentioned above and some that will summarize below, reinforces this pessimistic forecast.  Much pain- directly and indirectly- results when these marriages fail.[xvii] 
Said Marybeth Raynes, who was quoted in chapter 1:
“I can count on both hands the couples I have worked with who have chosen to stay married with the goal of managing the difficulties and enriching their experience with each other and their children…
I have talked to many women- and several men- who felt left out of discussions of future ramifications, even if they knew about the same-sex attraction prior to the marriage.  Amity Burton, author of The Other Side of the Closet, discusses the trauma, silence, and loss of integrity that occur as one spouse comes out of the closet.  Effectively, when the gay partner comes out of the closet, the straight one often goes in.  The feeling of invisibility and of not being loved or cherished increases for most spouses…
Indeed, this concern about “not being loved” in a gay/straight marriage has led me to more pondering than any other in the area of homosexual married people.  I am deeply concerned about what happens to both partners when there is very little or no sexual interest toward the other by at least one spouse.  When this is the case, there often may not be a sustained emotional and mental wish to really discover who one’s partner is on many levels.  Much like the quip, ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure makes a good down payment,” sexual interest alone does not create a loving marriage, but it certainly is an important feature.  In their book, The Good Marriage, a study of three types of healthy marriages, Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee conclude that at least warm, if not deeply passionate, sex is a necessary feature in all types of good marriages.[xviii]
Last, a quote from Wayne Schow:
“This problem is more widespread among Mormons than we care to acknowledge. These “mixed” marriages seem much more likely to end in divorce or, if they remain intact, are much less likely to provide marital satisfactions to both partners. Indeed, their negative outcomes typically cause pain and suffering for all involved, not least to the children of such unions. Nor is it in society’s best interest to perpetuate such suffering. Would it not be fairer and more humane to legitimize a form of marriage that is more realistically attuned to the uniqueness of the individuals involved?[xix]
In past decades (and indeed to an extent in the current one), some church leaders prescribed heterosexual marriage as a remedy for homosexual inclinations.  The Craigslist culture in Utah and Salt Lake counties of sealed LDS men seeking out homosexual men to come over for “when the cat’s away the mice play” during the absence of the wife and kids hints at the duplicity in many of these heterosexual marriages:
“You would be amazed how many married gay men there are in the Church, in Utah especially, who lead double lives.  They have secret same-sex partners or anonymous sexual encounters on their business trips.  Their spouses are unaware, or suspect and live in denial. These spouses are at risk for many reasons… the Church’s anti-gay attitude creates a destructive subculture of lies and deceit.”
Then again, who can blame the man or the wife in these situations, who make incredible sacrifices for the Mormon bottom-line: a sealed heterosexual family with children?
More recently, "Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith" seems to be more of the Church’s stance. Thus, if options 2 and 4 are out, and 1 is also advised against, the homosexually oriented person is left with lifelong celibacy as the only acceptable means for moving forward. The church position on homosexuality as evidenced by the Wickman/Oaks press conference is treading a fine line between some weighty doctrine-induced duties.  (I asked Elder Wickman in person in September 2010 about the press conference- he said the transcript was pretty raw/unedited but for grammar and such.  I asked what he would change in retrospect.  He said, "not a thing, it was spot on."  I appreciated his approachability).  The first is to forbid homosexual behavior.  The second is to refrain from forbidding to marry: "And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man." –Doctrine and Covenants 49:15.  One might wonder if homosexual men, to use an example, are not also men in the usage of that verse- in which case advising against heterosexual marriage for those homosexually inclined appears to be inappropriate on its surface. If homosexual orientation does not exist, is not significant, is chosen, and/or is changeable, then there seems to be little unjustified risk in a homosexually oriented person obediently entering heterosexual marriage. What relative risk increase exists if, per the assertions in the Oaks/Wickman address, behavior is all that matters, and each person has total control over his or her behavior?
Also, this counsel, which uses the language of "challenge... that they cannot control" seems almost to contradict the theme of the press conference about "we do not accept the fact that conditions that prevent people from attaining their eternal destiny were born into them without any ability to control" and "One of the great sophistries of our age, I think, is that merely because one has an inclination to do something, that therefore acting in accordance with that inclination is inevitable" and "we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.[xx]  No less an authority than a Supreme Court Justice rejected the significance of a distinction between behavior and orientation: "Following the Supreme Court's decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez on June 28, 2010, the plaintiffs in Perry cited the decision by Justice Ginsburg's  as Supreme Court precedent that sexual orientation is "an identifiable class" in opposition the defense's argument that sexual orientation is "behavioral".  Christian Legal Society had asserted that it did not restrict membership based on sexual orientation but based on "conduct and belief that the conduct is not wrong". Ginsburg rejected that distinction, noting that with respect to sexual orientation the court has "declined to distinguish between status and conduct" and offering the parallel from an earlier case: "A tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews.[xxi]"  (emphasis added).  
I'm also not fully convinced about the significance of this inclination/behavior distinction.  Take two 10 year olds- John, who's normal, and Mark, a very low-functioning autistic person with an inclination toward flailing about and throwing tantrums.  John and Mark can both control their behavior, and despite his inclinations in any particular instance Mark can, and sometimes does, refrain from throwing a tantrum.  If John flailed about in class and threw a tantrum, you might discipline him somewhat severely.  If you punished Mark the same amount for the same behavior, he'd spend his life in the corner.  Despite Mark's agentic control (i.e. the reality that any particular instance of misbehavior is not inevitable), it's absurd to hold him as responsible as John for an outburst or trend of outbursts- and it would be foolish to expect Mark to regulate his behavior to the same level of mellowness as John.  (Please pardon the comparisons to negative behaviors- culpability highlights the distinction between inclination and behavior).   Said Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project[xxii]:
“The best case I can make for that is the following: about half the people on the planet have a particular predisposition to criminal behavior that makes them about 20 times more likely than the other half to end up in trouble with the law and end up being incarcerated and in prison.  Who are those people?  Those are the males.  That is probably the strongest of all the influences we will ever discover in terms of a predisposition for violent behavior."
Perhaps one can hold these individuals strictly responsible for the consequences of their actions- but are they truly as worthy of blame and stigma as those with no predisposition who behave similarly?  It is established that alcoholism is 40-60% heritable[xxiii].  Are alcoholics equally culpable for their consuming behaviors as those who have no genetic predisposition?  To analogize to theory of criminal law, let’s take two individuals, Mark and Sarah, who both participate in the crimes of assault and battery of John.  Let’s presume that they both were equally violent; also presume that Sarah has no predisposition toward violence and that Mark is significantly predisposed because of his genes, high testosterone levels, and an inhibition of cortisol (a stress hormone) uptake that together account for 50% of the variability in his violent behavior.  In criminal law, punishments are not just based on the tort theory of strict liability (which roughly means that you’re responsible for any and all foreseeable consequences of your acts) but upon finding the element of mens rea, or the guilty mind: actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea- "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind be also guilty."  The punishment of criminals found to be mentally incompetent is usually mitigated. Might it similarly be appropriate that 90% of the punishment to Mark and Sarah should be in the strict liability sense, but that the mens rea calculus would differ between them, since their minds are not equally guilty?  Say, give them both nine months in jail, but then give Mark an additional fifteen days, but Sarah thirty, to account for the difference in their moral breach?  Though potentially impractical, wouldn’t this approach otherwise be appropriate?   
Another example would be thoughts about sex.  Though we consider ourselves in control of our thoughts, that control is limited to handle thoughts once they enter one’s head- we have much less control over how often those thoughts come.  If one were to plot out the number of thoughts about sex per day by your average male between the ages of 10 and 30, it becomes fairly clear that the testosterone-saturated adolescent male brain is imposing a lot of thoughts about sex irrespective of the boy’s agency.  Is he as guilty as an 18-year old girl of the same age who consciously spends 30 minutes each day, brow furrowed, drumming up lustful thoughts just to keep pace with her reasonably self-controlled male peers?  Might not a similar principle be at work with the trends of our behaviors, most of which reflect conditioned compliance with cultural norms and habits rather than highly volitional, intentional conduct?  How chosen are most of a newborn’s behaviors?  How about the possibility of genetic predispositions to personality traits and spirituality?  What about the influences of other biological factors besides genes?  How about non-biological environmental influences such as social and cultural/memetic factors?  Anyway, let’s move on.   
It's interesting that in the Wickman/Oaks address, homosexual orientation was affirmatively identified as unique to mortality (i.e. was not an aspect of pre-mortal existence and won't be an aspect of post-mortal existence).  This principle is conducive to suicide.  Here is the message some hear: “The theosis (becoming like God) utility of family life is the primary purpose of mortality.  The sum of all other activities pales compared to the value of being a parent and spouse.  Due to conditions outside your control, you are homosexually oriented.  If you cannot control your attractions (which is largely true of almost every homosexually oriented person), you could not enter opposite-gender marriage in good faith.  Same-sex marriage is out of the question.  However, you can start progressing substantively on the path of Godhood as soon as you die and are resurrected as a person you can’t currently relate to, namely, a version of you that is heterosexually oriented.  Though as you are you’re not good enough to take big strides toward becoming like God now, if you were lucky enough to get hit by a bus (thus side-stepping the moral consequences of suicide) and radically changed into a more God-conducive (heterosexual) version of yourself, you could then start progressing on that path.  Otherwise, patiently endure decades of the relative misery which results from loneliness, lack of intimacy, and self-repression in the hope that one day sweet death will release you from the shackle of your fallen tabernacle whose homosexual orientation daily afflicts you with guilt, doubt, and temptation.  Only then will you at last be equal to your peers in capacity to advance toward Godhood; until that day, you must endure witnessing as your heterosexual peers select spouses and raise children.”  In this light, I no longer scratch my head much when reflecting on some of my celibate homosexually oriented LDS friends who have longed for death, waded through deep depression, and in a great many instances, sought to take their own lives.
It seems that this fact (homosexual orientation is for mortality only) also brings up a more cheerful, hopeful idea: it suggests the permissibility of at least a mortality-only remedy for the homosexually oriented.  If we are willing to "throw up our hands" and say "the Lord will work it out in the afterlife" in difficult situations (e.g. a child with serious Down's syndrome, or a woman who goes through life without receiving a marriage proposal), why not carve out a similar short-of-eternal-heterosexual marriage, mortality-only remedy for the homosexually oriented? Perhaps a remedy that would encourage greater obedience to the law of chastity, which is also about 1) {cleaving to a single spouse} and 2) {behaving with fidelity} in addition to restricting sexual behavior to one's opposite gender?  It seems that promiscuous homosexual behavior is more immoral than fidelity to a homosexual partner- but if the repercussions of each behavior class are equal, there seems to be little incentive for treading the more moral of two paths both deemed to be immoral:
“Their abstract demand that homosexuals be saved, their loving invitation to ‘leave’ a ‘deception,’ could only serve to obliterate the integrity and self-respect of any gay child who heard them.  The ministers who used such language certainly could not provide an ethic for homosexual living.  They offered a way out, not a way forward.  But what if the way out was unavailable?  What options remained?  What incentives were offered for you to choose one way of life over another, when all possible expressions of your identity, from love and fidelity to promiscuity and prostitution, were regarded as morally indistinguishable one from the other?  How can a human being navigate an ethical life in the midst of such moral nihilism?[xxiv] 
Along these lines, one author who argues for LDS SSM wrote:
“Gay marriage need not be seen as incompatible with LDS doctrine. The Church opposes sexual activity outside marriage; but by recognizing gay married relationships, it would allow the ennobling expression of natural sexuality in a morally responsible way, within the context of commitment. Gays could then be expected to observe the same standards of fidelity to their spouse that the Church requires of heterosexual persons. Channeling gay sexual expression in this way would discourage the promiscuity that gays as outsiders are, not surprisingly, vulnerable to. Surely that would be a good thing.[xxv]
Though the church's teachings are very appropriate for the heterosexual majority, on what basis does a homosexually oriented member have faith in the ability of the church to help him or her be happy and prosperous during mortality?  Certainly there is the promise of full opportunity and felicity after death- but "it has always been a cardinal teaching with the Latter-day Saints that a religion which has not the power to save people temporally and make them prosperous and happy here, cannot be depended upon to save them spiritually, to exalt them in the life to come.[xxvi]" - Joseph F. Smith.  Neal Maxwell similarly taught:
“Whatever it is in the gospel that Jesus tells us to do is productive of happiness here as well as salvation in the world to come. The sum of human misery is less because some Mormons live their religion; the sum of human happiness is greater for the same reason. 
We are rightly concerned with reforming and improving our institutions in society.[xxvii]
Said one LDS member:
“I believe that homosexual Latter-day Saints realize that marriage is not an end in itself. It is not sought as a badge of honor, to spite society, or out of any other questionable motive. Rather marriage, regardless of sexual orientation, is viewed as a relationship between people who love each other that permits both to begin to acquire those godly traits that we all hope to develop during our mortal existence: unselfishness, kindness, forgiveness, sacrifice, service to others, and fidelity, to name a few. And, as a people we argue forcefully that no other institution is able to foster these characteristics as effectively, and, as we are taught, mortality is the most effective period for that to be achieved.[xxviii]
Said one author:
“The more internal structure or “real” stuff of the marriage relationship is its connection to individual human dignity via the opportunity it provides its participants to achieve levels of human self-fulfillment that are wholly unique and otherwise unattainable.[xxix]
If a prayerful homosexually oriented member of the church took a teleological rather than a deontological ethical approach (arguably as Adam did in consciously and intentionally violating a commandment of God to bring about a worthwhile end, namely "that man may be") and concluded that s/he could obtain more of godliness through getting as close to marriage as s/he could with a partner of the same (or, for that matter, opposite) gender than through a long life of lonely dinners and little family purpose, one might be hard pressed to find that judgment grossly erroneous.  Both religion and culture generally extol marriage.  The LDS church preaches marriage and family ad nauseum.  It's hard to beat marriage as far as its value as a stepping stone to theosis (the core Mormon doctrine of man becoming like God), and the opposite genderness aspect of marriage is not the only cause of those valuable effects.  As one friend of mine said, "no matter how many puppies you save and battered women you help, you're still alone at the end of the day.[xxx]"  Also from a gay friend: “We’re being short-shrifted from the ‘we’ universe, and we know it[xxxi]” (meaning the identity shift from “me” to the “we” unity that can come from being married is unavailable to celibacy- sentenced HO people).  Though the God Loveth His Children pamphlet points out "Partaking of the sacrament, singing the hymns of Zion, and listening to uplifting talks all contribute to your spiritual growth[xxxii]," general authorities consistently couch happiness in terms of spouse and children and preach the central role of the family in God's plan in mortality.  Comparing service and endeavors outside the home to motherhood, President Hinckley taught: "There is no other thing that will compare with that regardless of what she does.[xxxiii]"  David O. McKay taught, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home.[xxxiv]"  Might this principle include, for those that are capable (including homosexuals), "No other success can compensate for failure to have a home," meaning spouse and/or children?  Though counseled to serve and focus on non-family aspects of life, it is clear that the sum of these “other” activities will never approach the eternal utility of even a modest dose of parenting a child and/or becoming one with a spouse.  Said one LDS homosexual male:
“The church would have me live a celibate life without a partner. It would have me refrain from even dating. They would have me live alone. For the rest of my life. Now, if this life is all about learning and progression, to what extent would I be able to learn and progress living a life like that? On the other hand, say I got married to a man. We adopted children. We raised them and taught them the best we could. We experienced trials together as a family, etc. Now wouldn't that experience be far more beneficial to learning and progression? To learn compromise and loyalty within a valid, loving relationship? To experience the challenge and joys of raising children? I believe I would be much more likely to learn more of what it must be like to be God in that kind of life than it would a celibate, lonely one.[xxxv]
Because family is so central, individuals understandably exhibit a certain fierceness in marriage's pursuit.  A marriage or marriage-like relationship can, like almost no other relationship, context, or experience in life, help one to develop attributes of godliness such as patience, love, mercy, and the host of relational virtues unavailable to non-family experience[xxxvi].  Even if a prayerful homosexually-oriented member of the church mistakenly fails to account for the primacy of earth's purpose to "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" in choosing to develop attributes of godliness through a marriage-like homosexual relationship, that mistake seems somewhat small ethically.  Family is central to the Creator's plan for His children during mortality.   

3.  Family: the form

The above section about the substance of family should not be interpreted to say that form is immaterial- rather, the claim is that substance can be preserved through at least some changes of form.  God has manifestly been open to expanding the form of marriage, as He has repeatedly done so through history by expanding the “one man one woman” definition to “one man one woman OR one man several women.”  The rebuttal here is: “But we know of no case where this precedent extends to same-gender marriage!”  To my knowledge, this is true.  However, the first marriage we know of was one man/one woman (Adam and Eve); thus, sometime between then and now, God must have introduced for the first time and without earthly precedent the marriage form expansion of polygyny.  (No doubt some of the traditional marriage advocates present at the unveiling ceremony cleaned out their ears, thinking they must have heard Him wrong).  If God was willing to change the “number of partners” prong of marriage form, He may be willing to change the “number of genders” prong as well.  No one argues that God can’t expand the expansion of marriage form- He can do anything.  Notably, the Restoration scriptures (Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the Book of Mormon) are silent on anything to do with homosexuality, and many liturgies from monasteries between the fourth and eleven centuries suggest that the early Christian church performed same-sex marriages.[xxxvii]  Though not direct evidences of God’s will, same-sex marriages have been practiced traditionally in a number of cultures, such as in parts of the Inuit culture, the Vanuatu in the South Pacific, the Ming Dynasty in China, the Azande in sub-Saharan Africa, and in cultures in Eastern Siberia and 27 Native American tribes where Mormon missionaries have proselyted[xxxviii].  
That being said, there are many good reasons, such as the Manifesto,[xxxix] to limit marriage in the church to two partners.  I will forbear further arguments for and against seeking to bring back LDS polygamy except to say that fear of SSM leading to polygamy is not as troubling inside the church as it is outside it. 
Also, legalized same-sex marriage arguably makes same-sex couples’ sexual conduct within the church’s law of chastity already, since the church’s law of chastity is tied to “legal and lawful” marriage.  Compare to an apologist’s explanation of Brigham Young’s anti-interracial marriage teachings:
“First, Brigham Young is not even talking about intermarriage between whites and blacks. In 1863, there were few, if any, places where whites were free to marry blacks in the United States. Therefore, President Young is talking about sexual relations outside of marriage.
The strong opposition that Latter-day Saints have to sexual relations outside of marriage is well-known…
Since Latter-day Saint men could not legally marry black women, then any sexual relationships between them were strictly condemned.[xl]
Homosexual behavior between legally married persons, such as Buckley Jeppson and husband Michael Kessler[xli], already comports with the law of chastity since as stated in the temple that standard requires that sexual relations be limited to one’s legally and lawfully wedded husband or wife – and thus, Buckley’s sexual relations with Michael, his legal husband, are chaste.  As far as I know, no other church moral standard besides the general Article of Faith 12 duty to obey the law is explicitly tied to an external legal concept.  Perhaps this is part of the reason for the Church’s opposition to legalizing SSM in Hawaii, California, and everywhere else[xlii].  If homosexual relations are sinful only because they are extra-marital, then they will remain so- except in marriage[xliii].  Thus, LDS SSM might not necessarily require a departure from historic condemnation of homosexual conduct, since the morality of such was, arguably, always conditioned on the absence of marriage.
Penultimately, the Family Proclamation already contains the mechanism for LDS SSM (though the Family Proclamation hasn’t been sustained by the body of the church and therefore is not new doctrine: “The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church.[xliv]”).  President Packer’s talk was amended to downgrade the description of the document from “revelation” to “guidance.”  Even were the Proclamation authoritative, in the very paragraph declaring marriage between a man and a woman to be “essential to His eternal plan,” it states: “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”  Homosexual orientation is an “other circumstance necessitating individual adaptation” if ever there was one.  "This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed[xlv]"- Joseph Smith.  Might not an adaptation be made available for gays and lesbians who seek the moral good of a family-pursuing, life-long commitment to each other? 
Last, God has frequently turned the doctrinal tables on what consensus church apostles of the day thought was truth.  Preach the gospel to the gentiles?  “Emphatically not!”  (until Peter’s vision of the sheet descending with unclean animals).  Give the priesthood to black men?  “Emphatically not!” (until President Kimball’s declaration).   Give marriage to homosexuals?  “Emphatically not!” (until ______).  Conclusion?  Because of these reasons, including the precedent of polygyny, the likelihood that God will again expand the form of marriage is more than nominal.

4.  Children

Though children are not necessary to constitute an LDS family, children are commonly contemplated when one thinks of the word.  Same-gender couples can bear and/or raise children by adopting or reproducing as described in chapter four. 
“Jesse Levey is a Republican activist who says he believes in family values, small government and his lesbian mothers' right to marry.  Levey is part of the "gayby boom" generation. The 29-year-old management consultant is the son of a lesbian couple who chose to have a child through artificial insemination. He's their only child.  Critics of same-sex marriage say people such as Levey will grow up shunned and sexually confused. Yet he says he's a "well-adjusted heterosexual" whose upbringing proves that love, not gender, makes a family.[xlvi]  There is a significant pronatalist camp among homosexual couples.  The Williams Institute estimated that in a recent year, about 60,000 gay, lesbian, or transgender couples are raising at least one child under 18[xlvii]. 
The Family Proclamation states: "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony.[xlviii]  Though we usually think that this clause means that parents who intend to bear children should be married, there’s a second part: “children are entitled to birth.” Children are entitled to birth!  Entitlements, like rights, are meaningless if the other side of the coin is not a duty that is binding on someone.  This duty is reinforced by the command to “multiply and replenish.”  If this duty exists, and reproduction is the only available means for children to be born, then adults are obligated not only to refrain from bearing out-of-wedlock children- they are also obligated to bear children.  Thus, it would seem that at least those fertile adults who choose not to bear any children are in breach of an important duty.  Now to the relevance:
If a particular child will not be conceived but for a homosexual marriage, it is very difficult to argue against that homosexual marriage on a children’s-interest basis, even if one were to concede that the child’s life would be less ideal than in a different family.  How do you compare even a blighted life to no life at all?  Picture an empty bench- on it sits Greg, the child that was never born because the ban on gay marriage resulted in his Family Proclamation-following mother’s choice of a celibate life over the lesbian union Greg would have been born into (e.g. via a sperm donor).  As much as life can suck sometimes, most non-suicidal people nonetheless overwhelmingly prefer to exist.  Since IVF techniques and adoption are usually expensive and serious undertakings, “a same-sex married couple might well view their marriage as both a symbolic and legal commitment, and this acknowledged commitment might be the deciding factor when the couple was considering whether to adopt a child or whether to produce a child through the use of advanced reproductive techniques.[xlix] If one contends that Greg’s spirit will simply be sent to another family, by that same token it becomes difficult to criticize normal, fertile couples who choose to have no children.  If the buck doesn’t stop at adults capable of reproduction, where does it stop?  Why block an attempt by God’s children to exercise their free agency by choosing to fulfill one of the most important duties incumbent on them, namely the bearing of children within the bonds of matrimony?  Is theirs not the same dilemma that Adam faced?  Adam could not both multiply/replenish the earth and refrain from partaking of the fruit, though he could do either.  Most homosexual couples cannot both multiply/replenish the earth and avoid the sin of leaving the church as a consequence of their same-sex monogamy, though s/he could do either.  Are they not following the moral example of Father Adam, who chose the better option of multiplying/replenishing the earth “that man may be”?  Why seek to place stumbling blocks in the path of these moral agents?  Why not instead affirm the difficult decision made by partially obedient, pronatalist homosexuals, or if not affirm at least refrain from condemning it?
“You do not defend families by making life more difficult for people trying to create a family.[l]

5.  Parenting

Though the issue is hotly contested, the predominance of research to date indicates that “there is a consensus among credible scientific researchers which confirms the abilities of gay and lesbian persons as parents, and finds positive outcomes for their children. Statements by the leading associations of experts in this area reflect professional consensus that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents. No credible empirical research suggests otherwise[li].  If gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed.[lii]” The inherent parenting capability exception here would be breastfeeding with gay men- though men can lactate[liii], I know of no gay couples who have undergone the intervention needed to enable breastfeeding.  Excerpts from studies and three statements:
Study 1: "According to their mothers' reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach's normative sample of American youth.[liv]" -17-year national longitudinal lesbian family study
Study 2: Also in 2010, "children raised by lesbian parents (mostly comothers) have been found across a large number of tests to be generally similar to children raised by heterosexual parents on dimensions of psychological well-being, peer relations, and social and behavioral adjustment.[lv]" 
I presume the inconsistent findings (same vs. superior outcomes) are attributable to the separate metrics.
Statement 1: The Canadian Psychological Association has stated in 2006:  “The literature (including the literature on which opponents to marriage of same-sex couples appear to rely) indicates that parents’ financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union. As the CPA stated in 2003, the stressors encountered by gay and lesbian parents and their children are more likely the result of the way in which society treats them than because of any deficiencies in fitness to parent.[lvi]"
Statement 2: “In July 2006 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement: ‘There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than twenty-five years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with one or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents.[lvii]’”
Statement 3: We also know that the kids of heterosexuals do better when their parents are married rather than just living together. The parents' relationship is more stable and grounded and that gives kids a more secure feeling. We know that when the parents are married rather than just roommates, that the relationship lasts longer. Far more unmarried couples split up than marriages. Marriage provides more stability to the kids. Denying gays marriage objectively harms their kids and makes them feel more insecure and increases their risk of living in a single parent home and the accompanying harm that it causes… Why are we LDS promoting this anti-child and anti- family agenda? ... Many straight couples aren't ideal parents. They may have poor morals, do drugs, subject kids to second hand smoke, drink, belittle education, put the kids in day care every day, live in a poor/dangerous neighborhood, don't provide a well-balanced diet, etc...Why are such sub-ideal couples allowed to marry, but a lesbian couple, both with graduate degrees in Marriage, Family and Human Development from BYU, who are active in a church, who are actively involved in the child's local school, who live in a nice neighborhood, who have one parent stay home and make nutritious well balanced meals and raises the child with no day care, where neither parent smokes, drinks, does drugs, etc...are NOT allowed to marry? Which couple is more fit to raise a child and deserve the protections marriage provides spouses and kids?[lviii]
It is not difficult to imagine at least some committed homosexual couples lovingly raising children.  It seems common sense to me that married homosexual couples would on average do at least as good a parenting job, if not better, than the more prevalent single parent homes, which many conclude is a very risky environment for children.  Said one gay LDS man:
“I also feel like if gays were granted the right to marry their marriages would probably have a higher rate of success because they have had to fight so long for that right. I'm sure after the initial marriages, the numbers would be equal to heterosexual marriages, but there would be a lot of successful ones. Same goes for kids. These couples have to go through so many obstacles to be able to have kids. They really have to work hard for it. There aren't any "accidents" or unplanned children. So in all likelihood, these homes would be very well prepared for children and the parents would be very committed, simply due to the hardships they must go through to enjoy parenthood.[lix] 
Is it not socially sensible to at the least promote healthy, committed homosexual couple families over single parenting?  Many would go farther and argue that same-gender families merit the same treatment and consideration as parent candidates as opposite-gender families.  Based on the observed outcomes to date, this parenting-capacity argument is not far-fetched:
“[C]hildren can and do thrive in both contexts [same and opposite sex two parent households], and some of the differences noted in the literature do not establish that children are better off when raised by parents of different sexes.[lx]
Children in opposite-sex households stand to benefit from SSM as well:
“What children, all children, need is protection from the bleak allure of a culture without commitment and a future without marriage.  They need to grow up taking for granted that love, sex, and marriage go together—for everybody.  They need to live among friends and neighbors, including gay friends and neighbors, who are married, not shacked up.  No matter how you look at things, it is hard to see how a marriageless homosexual culture sends a good message for children or improves their social environment.[lxi]
In addition to child-benefit-based parent arguments, one should consider the parent’s benefit as well.  “The title father is sacred and eternal. It is significant that of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to Deity, He has asked us to address Him as Father.[lxii]  Like uniting with a spouse, parenting children is a crucial step in theosis that should take place in mortality where possible.  Lonely celibacy cannot afford a parenting experience to nearly the degree that homosexual marriage can.

6.  Providing reliable caregivers

“From society’s point of view, an unattached person is an accident waiting to happen.  The burdens of contingency are likely to fall, immediately and sometimes crushingly, on people- relatives, friends, neighbors- who have enough problems of their own, and then on charities and welfare agencies.  We all suffer periods of illness, sadness, distress, fury.  What happens to us, and what happens to the people around us, when we desperately need a hand but find none to hold?
If marriage has any meaning at all, it is that when you collapse from a stroke, there will be another person whose “job” is to drop everything and come to your aid.  Or that when you come home after being fired, there will be someone to talk you out of committing a massacre or killing yourself.  To be married is to know there is someone out there for whom you are always first in line.[lxiii]
Providing reliable caregivers is one of the most significant societal and personal benefits and one of the most significant responsibilities that attach to marriage. Marriage is more stable on average than cohabitation (and for the same reasons, I would presume domestic partnership and civil union):
“A husband or wife is the social worker of first resort, the psychiatrist of first resort, the cop and counselor and insurer and nurse and 911 operator of first resort.[lxiv]
“It is true that the single most important reason society cares about marriage is for the sake of children. But society's stake in stable, long-term partnerships hardly ends there.  Marriage remains an economic bulwark. Single people (especially women) are economically vulnerable, and much more likely to fall into the arms of the welfare state. Furthermore, they call sooner upon public support when they need care—and, indeed, are likelier to fall ill (married people, the numbers show, are not only happier but considerably healthier).[lxv]
Many of the benefits of marriage (which I detail later in this chapter) may come because married people have someone to look after them, and someone to look after- and they know it.  Homosexuals largely lack this assurance:
“One of the first things many people worry about when coming to terms with their homosexuality is: Who will take care of me when I’m old?  When I’m sick?
If it is true that marriage creates kin, then surely society’s interest in kin creation is strongest of all for people who are less likely to have children of their own to rely on in old age and who may be rejected or even evicted—it is still not all that uncommon—by their own parents in youth.  If the AIDS crisis showed anything, it was that homosexuals can and will take care of each other, sometimes with breathtaking devotion—and that no institution or government program can begin to match the love of a devoted partner.[lxvi]
One sees more evidence of this “commitment to caretaking” as a primary aspect of marriage in three ways: legal, normative, and ceremonial.
Legal (generally):
·         Spouses can make life or death decisions when the other is incapacitated
·         Don’t have to testify against each other in court
·         Hospital visiting rights
·         Doctor’s cannot refuse to tell the spouse’s condition
·         Inheritance rights
·         File taxes as a unit
·         Etc.
Many legal benefits recognize the unique responsibility spouses have to care for each other.  As one author concluded:
“The vast majority of ways in which the law recognizes marriage—practically all of them, if you stop to think about it—aim at facilitating and bolstering the caregiving commitment.[lxvii]
In addition to these legal evidences, normative social expectations also support the proposition that providing reliable caretakers is a primary purpose/aspect of marriage.  The first evidence comes from the reader- do you consider caring for each other as a primary purpose/aspect of marriage?  My guess is that most would answer yes.  Has this purpose/aspect been substantively attached to marriage in the past few centuries and beyond, in the reader’s perspective?  I would again predict an affirmative response.  The third evidence comes from a hypothetical.  Let’s say Mary and John, a middle-aged couple, are married.  John is terribly injured at work: paralyzed from the waist down.  Mary immediately abandons him, moving several states away.  Mary calls every so often to chat for a bit, but leaves John’s care completely to a hired helper.  Could Mary still claim to be married?  Would John be likely to get a divorce, perhaps even more likely than if Mary had committed adultery?  I imagine their friends would also be shocked.  “[W]hatever else marriage may be, it is a commitment to be there… the sine qua non of marriage.[lxviii]
Last, one sees evidence from the text of frequently used marriage vows.  The Book of Common Prayer from as early as 1662:
“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part… Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”
Regarding this prayer, Jonathan Rauch said:
“The text speaks twice of care and comfort ‘in sickness and in health,’ twice of love, twice of a lifetime bond.  Those three, it implies, are interwoven: the commitment to care for another for life is the love which exceeds all others, the love of another even above oneself.  There is no promise of children here, either to have them or to raise them, no mention of sex, no mention of inheritance, not a word about personal fulfillment… they placed at the center of marriage what most married people today also place there: ‘in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death us do part.’[lxix]
Providing reliable caregivers is well within the capacities of both homosexuals and heterosexuals.  The benefits from this aspect of marriage accrue to homosexuals and society more generally, including heterosexuals.  The opportunity cost in the church and in the country is enormous: potentially thousands and millions (respectively) of reliable caretaking relationships.  Celibacy (and, to a lesser degree, civil union, cohabitation, and domestic partnership) does not do nearly as good a job of providing reliable caretakers as does marriage, including SSM. 

7.  Settling  young men

A few years ago, I lived south of BYU campus in the Moon Apartments of Provo, Utah.  While there I remember having a one-on-one talk with my bishop about marriage.  Encouraging me to marry, he taught me that young men are sexually driven, strong, and aggressive.  His teaching, I think, is an expression of common wisdom: marriage channels young men’s sexual and other energy to settle and stabilize them.  Said a prominent political scientist in 1993:
“Much of the history of civilization can be thought of as an effort to adapt these male dispositions to contemporary needs by restricting aggression or channeling it into appropriate channels. That adaptation has often required extraordinary measures… of all the institutions through which men may pass- schools, factories, the military- marriage has the largest effect.[lxx]
Wilson went on to note some evidence for the unmatched stabilizing and settling effect of marriage, such as the statistic that unmarried men between 24 and 35 are three times as likely to murder another male, and are more likely to rape and rob, among other risks, than their married counterparts.  I will cut short a more exhaustive review of the civilizing effects of marriage by stating that I think such effects are intuitive because:
“Marriage confers status: to be married, in the eyes of society, is to be grown up.  Marriage creates stakes: someone depends on you.  Marriage creates a safe harbor for sex.  Marriage puts two heads together, pooling experience and braking impulsiveness.  Of all the things a young person can do to move beyond the vulnerabilities of early adulthood, marriage is far and away the most fruitful.  We are different people when we have a home: more stable, more productive, more mature, less self-obsessed, less impatient, less anxious.  And marriage is the great domesticator.[lxxi]
An article from The Economist arguing for gay marriage emphasized the societal value of marriage in parenting and caregiving.  It then said:
“Not least important, marriage is a great social stabiliser of men.  Homosexuals need emotional and economic stability no less than heterosexuals—and society surely benefits when they have it… For society, the real choice is between homosexual marriage and homosexual alienation. No social interest is served by choosing the latter.[lxxii]
However, it’s not only marrying, but the prospect of marrying, than can contribute to the social benefit of settling marinating-in-testosterone-brained men.  I have observed this in my own and my peers’ lives.  Said one corroborating author:
“If you hope to get married, and if your friends and peers hope to get married, you will socialize and date more carefully.  If you’re a young woman, you will avoid getting pregnant unintentionally or gaining what used to be called a reputation.  If you’re a young man, you will reach for respectability.  You will devote yourself to your work, try to build status, and earn money to make yourself marriageable (often true of women, too).  People who expect to get married observe and emulate husbands and wives.[lxxiii]
These civilizing effects apply to both men and women, though predominantly to young men. 
“So what?” a critic might say.  “Young homosexual men can still get married- to a woman.”  This rebuttal reminds me of a discussion I had about SSM a couple months ago with my brother, *Matthew, and some others.  One person advocated for SSM, to which Matthew pushed back, noting that some homosexual people are happily married to someone of the opposite sex.  My brother wryly retorted (out of Matthew’s earshot) that a lot of black people managed to attain some level of happiness under the yoke of slavery as well, but that fact doesn’t argue for maintaining the institution.  I can also see the parallel drawn by my friend who quoted from Griffin’s Black Like Me:
“’Whites told their black employees, and really believed it, that the NAACP and Martin Luther King were the black man’s greatest enemies.  They were offended by any suggestion of injustice.  They claimed that they always treated black people wonderfully well and always would so long as black people “stayed in their place.”  If you asked them what that “place” was, they could not really say, but every black man knew that place was right in the middle of the stereotype.[lxxiv]  Many in the anti-SSM make the same claim: ‘we treat homosexuals wonderfully and always will, as long as they “stay in their place”- outside marriage.[lxxv]
I trust that the comparable prejudice holds true for but a small subset of SSM opponents.  To return to the critic, I note a few details from a 2010 study reviewing 20 years of mixed-orientation marriage studies:
“While gay-heterosexual marriages benefitted from communication and discussion of individual needs, few such marriages enjoyed a mutually satisfying sexual relationship together… Hays and Samuels (1989) administered a 28-page questionnaire adapted from Klein, Sepekoff, and Wolf (1985) to 21 heterosexual women who were or had been married to, and had children with, bisexual or gay men. Descriptive analysis revealed that all women had anticipated a lifelong, monogamous marriage, even those who had some knowledge of their husband’s premarital homoerotic feelings. Grief, social isolation, and feeling deceived were common responses of women after they discovered the sexual or emotional relationships of their husbands with other men. Forty-eight percent of the participants had divorced, separated, or were in the process of leaving their husbands. Women did not feel at liberty to seek support from friends and family due to fear of stigma. Of the 52% of participants who remained married, three felt secure in their relationships. Most married couples were not sure if their marriages would endure.
[From another study] A wavelike model of changing emotional foci was identified from common themes found in participants’ written narratives of their experiences. After their husbands came out to them, the women reported the following issues that emerged as they examined their relationship both in the present and as they reviewed their relationship history: (a) awareness of sexual or emotional dissonance with their spouse, (b) bewilderment and feelings of failure that their naı¨vete´ or actions caused the dissonance, (c) simultaneous relief and preoccupation about the implications of their husband’s coming out, (d) despair as they were unable to find mutually acceptable solutions except separation or divorce, (e) concern for their children’s well-being after learning that their father was gay, (f) disorientation as the women tried to assess the impact of the experience on themselves, (g) spiritual turmoil as they examined their religious beliefs and ties to their faith community, and (h) redefining themselves and renegotiating life plans after integrating their experiences and resolving loss issues…
[From a study surveying gay and bisexual men in MOM’s] The majority of men (65.4%) married because it seemed an expected life choice… Half of the sample realized they were gay or bisexual before marrying… Men were significantly more homophobic, with negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians…
[Another study] All participants reported depression longer than a month before coming out to their wives and reported self-loathing after witnessing their wives’ anger and pain. Men were fearful of losing friends and family ties after coming out…
[From the discussion] Pressure from within is described in these data as arising from tension between societal expectations, love for spouse, and same-sex attraction; fear of losing one’s family; developing a cogent sense of self while compartmentalizing feelings and behaviors; dealing with ambiguity about one’s sexual identity across contexts; and being able to live intentionally and with integrity…
Coming out to one’s straight partner was reported to be an extremely stressful event for both spouses...
Rating on scales of homosexuality was positively correlated with incidence of divorce and separation. Findings from investigations in Australia and the Philippines indicate that lack of community acceptance, few positive gay role models, and little gay-affirming societal discourse exert pressure on bisexual and gay men to marry women…
Straight women in MOM experienced an array of responses after their husband’s coming out, ranging from outrage to relief. Such women’s experiences were often conceptualized in terms of loss, shock, and sadness. Responses included isolating themselves, feeling humiliated, seeking counseling, and attempting to renegotiate or dissolve their marriage.,[lxxvi]
I would also reply that the church now counsels (at least to a significant degree) against mixed orientation marriages[lxxvii].  I point out that many gay men in mixed orientation marriages fantasize about men to enable their sexual performance, and after having sex with their wives some of them go into the bathroom and vomit.  I note that the trust-vitiating risk of adultery is elevated in these marriages and point out the irony that some of the same critics which excoriate gay male promiscuity’s risk to marital fidelity would also suggest they marry an individual they’re not sexually interested in.  If the critic is straight and male, I would shortcut a fuller defense along these lines and ask him a bottom-line question: “Imagine that the world now has only SSM- OSM (opposite sex marriage) is not an option, and opposite-sex couples have no special legal or cultural status and are considered to be cohabiting.  If you want a lifelong, committed relationship, your options are to either marry a man or shack up with a woman.  How willing would you be to marry another man (same question but to another woman if the critic were female)?”  I don’t know what the critic would say, but this heterosexual author is exceptionally interested in marrying a woman and intensely disinterested in marrying a man- and I expect those interests wouldn’t be much different if the tables turned on me tomorrow.  “[M]ost regard the hope of a love marriage as the sine qua non of the pursuit of happiness—ahead of career, money, fame, even children.[lxxviii]  If LDS SSM were available, I would make two predictions: but few heterosexuals would avail themselves of SSM, and but few homosexuals would opt for OSM.  The author of When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage, who studied the effects of SSM in the Netherlands (which has legalized SSM since 2001), wrote:
“I compare the actual rates of same-sex marriage or registered partnership across countries… [W]hat I find is that the vast majority of gay and heterosexual couples alike choose marriage when they have options for legal recognition.[lxxix]
By prohibiting SSM, all homosexuals except those who enter mixed orientation marriages are effectively barred from marriage- and thus, for the male subset of that population, from marriage’s (and the prospect of marriage’s) settling and stabilizing effects.

8.  God did not create all people physically male and female

Up to this point, the arguments in support of SSM have largely been some of the same reasons that Latter-day Saints typically support OSM (opposite-sex marriage).  We will now turn to some reasons that are more uniquely specific to SSM.
Many church leaders have argued against a biological origin for homosexual orientation based on the claim that God makes no mistakes- “While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men --masculine, manly men --ultimately to become husbands and fathers[lxxx]” (1978).  This position was reiterated as recently as the October 2010 general conference: “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.[lxxxi]  [one might question the implicated theodicy (resolutions to the problem of evil) here- if He is our benevolent Father, why did He create and send so many of us physically and mentally disabled into a world saturated with evil, suffering, and abuse?]
God created man male and female- Genesis says so, right?  Not if you’re talking about physical sex.  Application of the idea that God made us all physically male or physically female fails not far beyond its limited application to Adam and Eve.  The proof:
Because the claim requires gender to be binary (either male or female and nothing in between), in order to be reliable a gender test must also place every individual it is applied to correctly into one of the two categories.  This implies two requirements:
1) the test must place every person (i.e. none can be ambiguous), and
2) there must be no false positives or false negatives (classifying a male as a female, or vice-versa, such as might happen if applying multiple tests or a single test with multiple non-exclusive criteria). 

What criteria would you use to ascertain physical gender?
(for support of the examples cited below see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelter's_syndrome,
http://www.isna.org/, and the references section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex)

I present several commonly proposed phenotypic and genotypic criteria:

a.         The “pull your pants down” test (genitalia)- take a look and see if they have a vagina or a penis.  This test fails because there are some people that have both or neither.  There are some that have a partial penis/partial clitoris.  Some have both ovaries and testicles.  Some have testicles where their ovaries should be.  This test violates both requirements 1 and 2 above.
b.         The genetics test (XY is male, XX is female)- this will help by separating those with ambiguous genitalia, and is testable through genotying.  However, this test also fails because some people are XXY or XXYY.  Also, some have XY but the SRY gene either isn’t expressed or is damaged (so the XY individual is phenotypically female, the default gender in the sexual differentiation of humans- see chapter 2).  This test doesn’t tell a judge how to come down in these cases (violating 1 above). 
c.         The gametes test- whichever gametes (eggs or sperm) a person makes defines the person’s gender.  A number of people fail to make any gametes (e.g. via upstream aborted oogenesis or spermatogenesis)- thus frustrating requirement 1.
c.         The brain test- though largely alike, as Brizendine (author of The Male Brain and The Female Brain) summarizes, there are distinct structural differences between the average male and the average female brain.  The exceptions here are 1) those who exhibit intermediate brain phenotypes, 2) those who have a male brain but female genotype and female genitalia, and 3) those with a phenotypically female brain and phenotypically female genitalia but male genes.  Thus, requirements 1 and 2 are both violated.
d.         The sexual orientation test- assign the gender opposite the sexual orientation of the subject (e.g. if the person’s attracted to men, conclude the person is a female).  This test fails both because it is counterintuitive and because sexual orientation is spectral rather than binary (e.g. what about bisexual people?), thus at the least violating requirement 1. 
Take Mr./Ms. Chase as an example.  Born in New Jersey with ambiguous genitalia that baffled doctors, her/his parents originally named her/him Brian Sullivan, noting that "Chase is XX, and the reason for her intersex condition has never been fully understood."  Mr./Ms. Chase was born with "mixed male/female sex organs" and after the discovery of ovaries and a uterus, a clitoridectomy was performed when she/he was aged 18 months. Her/his parents, as advised by doctors, moved to a new town and raised him/her as a girl, Bonnie Sullivan. Although she/he had begun speaking before the operation, she/he fell silent for six months after the operation. She/he developed ovotestis at age 8 (later clarified as "the testicular part of her ovo-testes"). She/he found out about the clitorectomy aged 10, and at age 21 succeeded in gaining access to her/his medical records.  She/he now goes by two names, Bo Laurent and Cheryl Chase, and advocates that surgery should only be done on patients who are able to make an informed choice.
What is a bishop to do when one of these ambiguous-gender persons comes before him requesting marriage?  Does he send the person away with a prescription for lifelong celibacy?  Does he randomly assign the person a gender and restrict their marriage prospects to its opposite?  Oftentimes judges decide the gender of these ambiguous individuals when the intersex person is young, ordering invasive surgery and hormone treatment to force the individual to become one gender (one of the judges I’ve worked for told me he has had to make the call a few times).  Not infrequently the person grows up and angrily claims the judge got it wrong, in some cases seeking a sex change operation.  In other cases the individual grows up and criticizes the judge for not letting them remain as they were born – phenotypically a third gender.  Now back to the argument, where I conclude:
Unless and until a reliable and unambiguous test of physical gender is identified, the existence of these intersex persons frustrates the two-gender claim.
As one can see, the claim that God made all people either physically male or physically female is demonstrably false (to say nothing of those who feel their spiritual gender doesn’t match their physical, such as a subset of transgendered[lxxxii] persons).  If this building block is destroyed, the cross-beam that relied upon it, namely that God placed the proper sexual orientation into every body, is also suspect- sublato fundamento, cadit opus (the foundation being removed, the structure falls).  Additionally, if a person appears before an LDS Bishop and requests marriage, and this is key- the bishop doesn’t know with certainty the spiritual gender of the requestor.  This is not surprising because the bishop (or you or I) doesn’t know with certainty whether a body is even ensouled or not.  Picture a room with ten bodies.  One has had no vital signs for an hour (heart, lungs, brain, etc.).  Another has brain stem function but no higher brain function.  One has no brain function but the lungs and heart are working.  One has had no vital signs for two seconds.  One is a united egg and sperm right before union, one the sperm and egg are united but the chromosomes aren’t.  One is partway through syngamy (similar to the concepts of fertilization or conception), one three seconds after syngamy (though thirty nonessential base pairs didn’t bond), one ten days after syngamy, and the last one two hundred and thirty days after syngamy.  Without being told, can you or the bishop tell how many ensouled bodies are in the room with your eyes closed?  If so, what is the number?  Could you count if your eyes were open?  How about open with access to all the details just listed?  Would reliance on physical characteristics advance, obstruct, or have no effect on discerning a spiritual reality? 
If the Bishop cannot discern even the presence of absence of a human spirit (which makes issues such as organ donation and abortion very sticky), how can the Bishop be relied upon to correctly identify an attribute of that spirit?  Here we return to the arguably more exacting task of discerning spiritual gender.  If the Bishop is blind and a person is brought before him, does he know whether that person is a male or a female spirit?  Would he not wait to conclude until he heard the person speak?  Wouldn’t sight-privileged people conclude based on apparent physical appearance?  Would some of them factor in the testimony of the person, who may be transgender?  What if a person got a sex change and changed their appearance- could they not trick the Bishop into marrying a female-turned-male to another female?  What if that person were born intersex?  Is there any basis for affirming conclusively the spiritual gender of any person, irrespective of their physical appearance?  The practice of marrying only physical males and physical females risks both false negatives (prohibiting a male and a female spirit from marrying because their bodies are of the same or ambiguous sex) and false positives (uniting two same-sex spirits because their bodies are of different or ambiguous sex).  In the absence of certainty about spiritual gender, it is irrational to exclude marriage on the basis of apparent physical sex: instead, a bishop charged with marrying male to female spirits must either not marry at all (thus avoiding same-sex pairings) or marry any two people that come before him (thus avoiding the absence of any marriage).  Stated another way: being uncertain as to sex itself, it makes little sense to exclude marriage on that basis, and more sense to instead stake marriage access on a more sure and discernible foundation, especially if the relevant determination is of spiritual sex. That foundation is the platform constructed of the planks of 1) two partner, 2) consent, and 3) minimum age requisites, and not 4) indiscernible spiritual sex.  SSM fits the bill: man/woman-only marriage does not. 

9.  We can’t be 100% certain we know God’s thoughts on SSM

The claim has been made that SSM will never be performed in the church because God has sexual intercourse with His wife and God has offspring[lxxxiii], implying that same-sex couples cannot mimic a heterosexually married God in this way (though opposite-sex couples can).  To my knowledge, precious little if anything has been revealed about either the mechanism of spiritual reproduction or God’s sex life.  Certainly, the idea of reproducing as we typically do on earth (by having a number of sexual episodes with a partner followed by a painful, risky nine-month pregnancy) becomes difficult to conceptualize as God’s method, considering He and His wife(ves)’s numberless progeny, omnipotence, and invulnerability.  In the end, that would be an obscene amount of sex and pregnancy (numberless offspring multiplied by numerous orgasms per conception) for the embodied parents of unembodied spirits.  Plus, we are close to giving the ability to reproduce together to same-sex couples here on earth- is there doubt that omnipotent persons in heaven would struggle with a comparable task?  For instance, we are told God created our bodies from the dust of the earth, which seems very unlike sexual intercourse- in which case increasingly following His example through the use of reproductive technologies might seem difficult to condemn.  In any case, there is insufficient revelatory basis to support the contention that homosexual couples cannot mimic God’s method of spiritual reproduction: the literal spiritual parentage of God cannot even potentially argue against SSM absent knowing the mechanism of spiritual reproduction.  
Also, even if God is heterosexually married, He is either exclusively monogamous or polygamous, in which case to become like Him each of us must mimic Him- meaning that in eternity all will be either polygamous or monogamous.  Given that over time faithful church members have fit some into one and some into the other camp during mortality, one or the other class will have some significant changes to make in heaven.  If God instead permits a diversity of marriage forms (e.g. you can be exalted in either polygamous or monogamous opposite-gender marriage) as long as the individual is sealed to at least one other spouse, then there is no necessary preclusion of same-sex pairings.  Indeed, knowing that God is not the only person of His stature and indeed trod a path similar to ours, including likely having an exalted spiritual father, we reasonably conclude that a community of Gods exists.  Not knowing the homogeneity of that community’s constitution, the possibility of exalted same-sex couples extant in the universe at this moment exists. 
Below is an interesting study.  Though it lacks rigor, the results are intuitive and belie certainty that God’s will regarding SSM is fully and broadly known:
"We published a notice on our web site encouraging visitors to take part in our study to assess the will of God. We E-mailed a form to each visitor to our web site who had asked to be included in the study. Subjects were thus self-selected. The form asked the recipient:
·         Whether they were currently in favor of or opposed to same-sex marriages (SSM).
·         Some personal data -- their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and which "wing" of that religion that they followed.
·         To seek God's will for same-sex marriages through prayer.
·         To continue praying until they received a response from God or felt that they could not assess the will of God.
·         If they were successful in assessing God's position on SSM, then we asked:
- what God's will is, and
- how certain are they that they correctly assessed God's will."
Results from the preliminary study
Although the sample size was small, one result was striking: Of the 68% of the participants who believed that they assessed the will of God, every person found that God agreed with their stance on SSM:
·         All of those who are personally opposed to SSM reported that God agreed with them.
·         All of those favoring SSM also reported that God agreed with them.
·         None found that God took a compromise position, saying that God supported or opposed SSM depending upon the specifics of each individual case.
Summary of the study
The most significant result, in the author's opinion, is that:
·         Those who personally favored SSM found that God also favored it.
·         Those who personally opposed SSM found that God also opposes it.
·         God did not disagree with any of the participants' beliefs, even though they are in conflict.

With few exceptions:
·         Religious liberals favor SSM.
·         Religious conservatives oppose SSM.
With no exceptions:
·         Heterosexual conservative Christians oppose SSM[lxxxiv].
When asking God to reveal truth, one must be open to whatever answer He would give, even one that contradicts what you thought you knew for sure- else there is little point in posing the question.
Joseph Smith: “Why be so certain that you comprehend the things of God, when all things with you are so uncertain?[lxxxv]

10.  Very few open members stay active

I failed to find a credible percentage of those LDS members who stay active after coming out of the closet about their orientation.  My unscientific inquiries to three I thought well equipped to provide the answer said:
"Of the 100s of gay men I know with Mormon roots, I'm one of maybe 3 or 4 that are out and active.  I would submit that the ones who stay are deep in the closet…  hard to poll a hidden population.[lxxxvi]"
"Ooooh, thats a hard number to estimate. Mostly because I don’t see it as a binary thing. Some of my friends have left 100% have withdrawn their memberships like they have their testimony, some are completely indifferent, some fight the church, some stay active, and I know many people who still have membership but aren't active, don’t wear garments and will unlikely go back to church without the church policy changing and then bringing them back.  As for people who stay 100% active years after they come out- 5% of people I know. I know plenty of people who have SAID and PROMISED they'd stay active, but they don’t ever. It’s not that they go apostate either. It’s more like the church isn't a healthy place to live for them and they part ways for a few years or decades until things get better between them.[lxxxvii]"
"Honestly I Have no idea on that statistic, sorry. I would say that of people who acknowledge their homosexuality, meaning that are out at all, it is infinitesimally small. Almost no out gay people, some that are kinda halfway out and a fair number that aren't out at all, many who are married. But for percentages...no way anything I'd say would be anything other than pure speculation.[lxxxviii]"
Gary Watts, the former president of Family Fellowship (Family Fellowship is a predominantly Latter-day Saint support group for families who have Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender members[lxxxix]), says less than 10% stay in the church.  This statistic matches my personal experience and I for one find it devastating, if indeed God uniformly condemns leaving His restored church.  Mosiah 27:3: “for they could not bear than any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” 
There are doubtlessly many reasons why individuals choose to withdraw their church activity.  However, if these perceptions are even roughly accurate, they are one piece of evidence to suggest that the LDS environment is inhospitable to those who are open about their homosexual orientation.  If there is nothing sinful about being homosexually oriented, there seems to be little reason to criticize the act of coming out.  (Even if homosexual orientation were sinful, there might still be little reason to criticize the act of coming out- see my post[xc]).  To tolerate or advocate SSM as a church is likely to make the LDS environment more hospitable to those who do come out (and likely those who don't as well).  It should go without saying that proselytizing efforts to HO people and their loyal loved ones would likely be more successful with than without LDS SSM. 
In addition to losing fewer homosexually oriented people to apostasy or suicide, the church stands to gain from losing fewer people who sympathize with homosexually oriented people.  What follows is some dialogue I had with a new convert troubled by this issue.    
Linda: My name is *Linda. I am friend of *Brenda who is a friend of Brad Carmack. Actually, Brenda was my missionary back in 2007 and has turned into a very dear friend. I am writing because I would like some opinions on the subject of same sex involvement including marriage. I was raised by lesbians and that was the main reason I did not want to be part of the church after knowing their feelings of gay people and marriage. ( I grew up in a non-denominational church led by gays) After some serious talks with Brenda, I was convinced that maybe I did not need to understand or even believe every single thing the same as the church teaches. I eventually got baptized. I had been going to church for a couple of months and about a week after I got baptized Brenda got transferred. I quickly went into panic mode. I no longer had 'my missionary" there by my side to talk to very day. I still went to church but about a month after that all happened Proposition 8 in California was going on in regards to same sex marriage. My bishop started talking about it one Sunday and I got up and left. The next day I saw the news reports of how much money the LDS church was giving to campaign against same sex marriage. I was done with church. ( I know it wasn't just the LDS church giving money...but that was the church I was tithing to so in essence...I was helping to pay for something that was way against my beliefs).
Me: I can see why that experience would be hard.
Linda: About a year later I started missing the feelings I got while I attended the church so I went back but only once. I again started getting angry about the church's stance on the subject as it was brought up AGAIN in church that day. I have never been back since.
I have since started getting into universal happiness and karma to put it simply. However, when I try to think that maybe there isn't a God, I get a strange feeling. When I try to believe in giving good to the universe gets me good back....something happens and I end up "praying to God" even though I have sort of denounced him in a way. Obviously something isn't right. So when I think about....Is there a God?....I can only come to the conclusion that the LDS church seems to be the lessor of all "the religous evils" if that makes any sense. I think it does.  Still I can not come to terms with the gay issue.
Me: Okay, I follow you.
I am married to a man....not gay. However, my mom wanted nothing else but to be happy with her lifetime partner. When she was on her death bed, she was not able to get the rights with her lover that heterosexual couples got. This hurt me so bad.
Me: I would imagine!  I'd probably feel about the same way in your shoes.
I also know people this has happened to as well. A long-time friend of my mom’s was with her lover for 38 years and after she died, her lover got no rights, lost their house, and was not even allowed at the funeral.
Me: That is a very rough outcome.
Linda: There have just been so many terrible things that go along with this....it makes me cry to think of them. As you can see, it is not easy for me to go to a church that ex-communicates (from what I've heard) gay people that act on it....but re-enacts ex-communicated members that are child molesters (my husband’s 2 uncles).
Me: I don't know for sure but I'd imagine that an individual that is excommunicated for homosexual conduct could also regain his or her membership and fellowship in the church after repentance, much like child molesters.
Linda: How do I get over this? How does a gay man or woman stay in a church that doesn't 'want" them?
Me: I for one want them.  I think the Lord wants them.  Though duty-bound to take a hard line against what God has declared as sin, there are some strong statements from church leaders that the church wants them.  (See "Helping Those Who Struggle With Same-Gender Attraction:" “What’s more, I love you. My Brethren among the General Authorities love you. I’m reminded of a comment President Boyd K. Packer made in speaking to those with same-gender attraction. ‘We do not reject you,’ he said. ‘… We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.")  
Linda: How do I follow the right path (if it is indeed the right path) alongside people that would not have allowed my mom to be a member or even say she was wrong to be happy in an "unconventional" way?
Me: By following that path.  The people in the church are no more perfect than you, me, or your mother.  If people in the church commit uncharitable errors, it seems more appropriate to love, forgive, and associate with them than to part ways.
Linda: Brad mentioned one of you lead a same sex marriage talk group on campus... I would really appreciate your guys take on all of this. I so bad want to be where I belong....I just don't know where that is.
Me: I pray you'll find it.  Though I don't know how or when, because you're seeking, I think you will find where you belong if you have real intent (see Moroni 10:3-5 or D & C 14:5) and ask God. 
Linda: I hate to think it is in the LDS church and I will miss out on the Celestial kingdom (if, again, I believe that) because of this when it doesn't even affect me directly. However, I would never change how I grew up.
Me: The way you grow up is a dangerous foundation for deciding how to believe and live. There are many scriptural examples of individuals who were raised with at least some false traditions (e.g. the Lamanites).  If these people always followed the way they were raised, then none would forsake their lives and take up their cross to heed the Savior's invitation to "Come, Follow Me."  It is better to seek and conform to truth even at the expense of abandoning beliefs or practices you were raised with if necessary (or, conversely, embracing correct beliefs you were raised with even if they're unpleasant).  How this principle applies in your case I don't know. 
Linda: And I will fight right alongside of the gays and lesbians for equal rights for my mom’s sake, as well as human rights sake, as long as I live.
Me: Again, the fight may be a just one, but it is not made so merely because of your mother's choices- for though of course you love and respect her immensely, she is no less human/imperfect than you or me.  I don't conclude as to the correctness of her choices: but I do claim that if they are correct, they are so not merely because the choices were made by her- but instead because they are in harmony with independent principles such as justice and equality.
Linda: I need answers and I don't like the ones I am getting. HAHA. I am not naive enough to think that any "religion" would say it is okay to be gay. But I do believe that many people are pushed away from "God" because they are gay. If memory serves me right, I was taught that God loves everyone and no one should judge. So if that's true....why do people that follow Gods' word judge?
Me: For some, the answer is because God has charged them with that responsibility.  For instance, Bishops are common judges in Israel, and are tasked with, among other responsibilities, judging and punishing certain sins.  God does love everyone, but He does not endorse sin, and it would be wrong for His servants to refrain from fulfilling a duty God has laid upon them.  Fortunately in my view, most members don't have this burden/responsibility of judging.  Plus, it is valuable to remember as God reminds us so often in the scriptures that He will judge us at the last day and hold us accountable for our choices- and that even though He loves us, He will not shield us from the consequences of our choices, positive and negative, without our exercise of agency.  Thus, church members should judge themselves, identify errors, and repent of them.  Thus, I've identified two categories where people should judge. 
Linda: Isn't the point of our lives to live happily and do good to people? To help people? To show generativity (people nurturing the younger generations)? To [be] unselfish to our own needs and wants? To raise a family with good values and morals?
Me: Yes, there's lots of scriptures supporting these points you make.
Linda: And that is a whole other subject. There are so many children out there that don't have homes. They are living in group homes or on the streets. Why is it not okay to have these children placed in good homes if those homes consist of gays and lesbians? The church would rather those children grow up without a loving foundation? I just don't get it. Please help me understand.
In the end, despite my efforts, she didn’t understand- and fell away from the church.

11.  LDS divine command theory relies on living oracles

*note- the next two reasons are a bit of an exception because they support the proposition that one should be ready to accept SSM, not necessarily that she should support SSM (as do the other reasons).
Mormonism… calls for thoughtful disciples who will not be content with merely repeating some of its truths, but will develop its truths…. The disciples of ‘Mormonism’… will yet take profounder and broader views of the great doctrines committed to the church; and… will cast them in new formulas; co-operating in the works of the Spirit, until ‘they help to give to the truth received a more forceful expression, and carry it beyond the earlier and cruder stages of its development.’[xci]  -Elder B.H. Roberts
The de facto moral reasoning theory most Mormons use is divine command theory, meaning that our most important duty is to comply with God’s commands.  We learn His commands through prophets.  Mormons believe that the words of living prophets trump the words of dead ones- I leave the proof for this claim out since I think but very few would contest it (examples of prophets trumping their predecessors include relaxed strictures on birth control, relaxed standards on the length of garments, and significant alterations in temple ordinances).  Wrote an advocate of LDS SSM:
“Does it trouble me that my view of this matter directly challenges the present stance of the LDS Church, which opposes gay marriage and forbids as sinful any sexual activity outside of traditional marriage? Yes, it does sadden me to be at variance with the Church, but that does not absolve me of the moral responsibility to analyze such matters as thoughtfully as I can and to share with others what my relevant experience has been. I do not see my questioning of the present Church position as inappropriate, disloyal, or without ample precedent. After all, in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in recent LDS Church history, there are numerous examples of significant doctrinal reinterpretations and course corrections. Major examples include the revised view that God is the God of all human beings, not of Israel alone; the reinterpretation of the gathering of Israel, the institution and subsequently the cessation of the practice of polygamy; and the extension of priesthood ordination to black men. It is even evident that the Church’s view of homosexuality has undergone some significant adjustment in recent decades; therefore, it, too, may be susceptible to further revision.[xcii]
This living>dead principle can be a fortunate thing.  For example, President Kimball’s 1968-1971 teachings about homosexuality created a psychological living hell[xciii],[xciv] for many homosexually oriented members in the 1970’s.  In chapter 2 we concluded that homosexual orientation is, in at least most cases, predominantly caused by biological factors.  Thus, homosexual orientation is at least roughly morally equivalent to be being born left-handed, i.e. that there is nothing morally wrong with either since neither is agentic (chosen).  Certainly moral agents are responsible only for their acts and omissions and not for phenomena they did not causally contribute to.  We observed in chapter 2 as well that many earlier church statements did not discriminate between orientation and behavior; thus, many experienced the equivalent of falsely condemning themselves for the choosing to be left-handed in a world where such handedness is offensive to God.  However, because of more recent authoritative statements, such as President Hinckley’s 1997 recognition of the moral difference between orientation and conduct, we need no longer apply President Kimball’s repeated characterizations of our homosexually oriented brothers and sisters as self-selected perversions.  President Hinckley: “Now we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people – provided they don’t become involved in transgression, sexual transgression.[xcv]  This is not the first time that the church has changed significantly regarding homosexual issues. 
LDS church leaders did not speak out very much against homosexuality except in belated concert with the homophobic trends in the surrounding culture (mostly in the past 60 years- though as in the initiation they once again lag slightly behind the culture, which is currently reversing the trend).  Wrote one author: “Reaching adulthood in the twentieth century seemed to be the crucial factor in the decline of tolerance among LDS leaders for homoerotic behaviors and the rise of homophobia within the Mormon hierarchy since the early 1950s.[xcvi]  Also, “Despite newspaper reports of sexual activities among Mormon students since the early 1900s, for decades some LDS administrators and Mormon teenagers showed no homophobia.[xcvii]  This is contrasted with the harsh penalties Mormons of an overlapping time period imposed on perpetrators of acts of bestiality, incest, or adultery, including decapitation and castration[xcviii].  Sodomy wasn’t even illegal in Pioneer Utah, as evidenced by Mormon municipal judge Jeter Clinton’s release of soldier Frederick Jones for sexual assault on a nine-year old boy.  The judge noted in the 1864 case that anal sex was not illegal in Utah[xcix] (a month before, the Salt Lake County Court sentenced a man to 20 years of hard labor in the Penitentiary for sexually assaulting a similarly aged girl[c]).  “In fact homoerotic conduct was not among the sex-related charges for which any Mormon was excommunicated between 1845 and Brigham Young’s death in 1877[ci] (though notably three teenagers were excommunicated nearly a decade later for homoerotic acts[cii]).”  A number of prominent Mormons in the early nineteenth century were not sanctioned for their homosexuality, including Evan Stephans, Louie P. Felt, and May Anderson, all of whom in 1919 “came out” in public at the zenith of their church careers[ciii].  “In almost every instance Mormon leaders who served in the nineteenth century were more tolerant of homoerotic behaviors than they were of every other nonmarital sexual activity.[civ]  The activities of Salt Lake City’s Bohemian Club evidenced that Utah was no exception to the existence of “an early American subculture of people who interacted socially because they shared an erotic interest in persons of their same gender.[cv]  Also, for decades same-sex church leaders slept in the same bed together when traveling: “same-sex sleeping arrangements were nearly a requirement for Mormon men in church leadership positions that involved extensive travel[cvi].”  In 1843, Joseph Smith preached that “two who were vary friends indeed should lie down upon the same bed at night locked in each other[‘s] embrace talking of their love and should awake in the morning together.  They could immediately renew their conversation of love even while rising from their bed.[cvii]  This is in sharp contrast to the strict mission rule that companions are not to sleep in the same bed[cviii].  Mormon men and women in the nineteenth century often kissed others of their same gender out of religious devotion and personal affection, most likely full on the lips[cix].  Even as late as the 1940’s, the Apostle Richard Lyman’s extramarital heterosexual affair was punished much more harshly than the revelation of Church Patriarch Joseph F. Smith’s homosexual affairs with college students[cx].  Others, such as a Mormon professor at Ricks College, were dropped from held positions rather than excommunicated or disfellowshipped[cxi].  Homosexual acts as grounds for excommunication was not added to the Handbook of Instructions until 1968[cxii]. 
This brief historical treatment suggests that the church’s treatment of homosexual issues is flexible[cxiii].  We should be careful to presume that we have enough, that we’ve received the last word from the Lord on homosexual issues:
“Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more!... For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”    2 Nephi 28: 27 & 30
“Is God inconstant, changing his mind suddenly as he goes along? Or do we change in our perception of his will as we experience evolutionary growth? I subscribe to the second position. Since the Church proclaims the importance of ongoing revelation and since our leaders, however wise, do not claim to be infallible, the Latter-day Saints above all religious groups should accept that internal, as well as external, dialogue can contribute to advancing our understanding of the divine will. Latter-day Saints should not merely concede that God’s revelation regarding moral development is unfinished but should optimistically expect it to be continually refined. All of us have a responsibility to help prepare the seedbed of understanding for moral progress.[cxiv]
A story from Joseph Smith:
“Upon Pelatiah Brown being brought to trial before a high council, the Prophet Joseph is quoted as saying, “I did not like the man being called up for erring or questioning doctrine… I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled.[cxv]
Last, from apostle Hugh B. Brown:
“Revelation may come in the laboratory, out of the test tube, out of the thinking mind and the inquiring soul, out of search and research and prayer and inspiration.
We should be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity. No one would have us become mere tape recorders of other people's thoughts. We should be modest and teachable and seek to know the truth by study and faith. There have been times when progress was halted by thought control. Tolerance and truth demand that all be heard and that competing ideas be tested against each other so that the best, which might not always be our own, can prevail.
Knowledge is the most complete and dependable when all points of view are heard... One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings.
We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts… And while all members should respect, support, and heed the teachings of the authorities of the church, no one should accept a statement and base his or her testimony upon it, no matter who makes it, until he or she has, under mature examination, found it to be true and worthwhile; then one's logical deductions may be confirmed by the spirit of revelation to his or her spirit, because real conversion must come from within...[cxvi]
Because we are a church of living oracles, we have no loyalty to what past prophets have said which contradict the living one.  Also, we hold that the canon is still open: “We believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.[cxvii]  There is little use in praying for God to reveal truth to us if we place bounds on the answers we will accept.  Thus, we must be prepared to follow whatever direction comes- even a reversal of the current church practice of fighting SSM.  This scenario not entirely unlikely- if indeed the circuit and/or Supreme Court upholds the Perry v. Schwarzenegger holding, which God necessarily knew would happen because He’s omniscient, it is counterintuitive that God would have instructed the church to promote Proposition 8 in the first place if indeed His ostensible purpose was to make same-sex marriage as broadly illegal as possible.  Why?  Because God is not stupid.  The church’s involvement in the passage was a direct contributing cause to the exact opposite effect, namely that more states than just California may no longer prohibit same-sex marriage.  Circuit or Supreme Court affirmations of Perry will expand this effect even further.  Perhaps Proposition 8 was like Zion’s Camp or the command to Abraham to slay his innocent son- God had other purposes besides the ostensible redemption of Zion by arms or the death of Isaac by his father’s hand.  Even if this speculation fails, one may in any case argue that a reversal of the church’s religious and legal opposition to SSM is vanishingly likely- but if President Monson pronounced tomorrow that the church will now practice and promote SSM, will you be ready, or like some members after the blacks/priesthood reversal will you fall away?  The stereotypical LDS divine command theory approach demands that level of readiness, sacrifice, and obedience
Additionally, I note that many of the harsher anti-homosexual statements of church leaders can be excused by virtue of rapid change in the landscape of reproductive technologies.  A few decades ago, the ability of homosexuals to reproduce was not as apparent.  Also, the accessibility of reproductive technologies for same-gender couples was less than that of today (the most likely increased accessibility in coming decades).  Thus, that portion of older statements contingent on the inability of same-gender couples to reproduce may be somewhat excusable.  Additionally, it is arguable that none of the past statements (as listed in chapter 2) qualify as the church’s position: “formal statements by the First Presidency are the definitive source of official church positions.[cxviii]    

12.  SSM advocates may turn out to be pro-family

Was George Washington a traitorous rebel or a freedom fighter?  Is Al-Qaeda a bright hope for justice or a deeply traitorous rebel?  The answer usually turns not on the nature of their activities, but on the whether the judge is a Tory or a Patriot; an American or a radical global jihadist Sunni Muslim.  Similarly, some view SSM advocates as a threat to the family.  Others see them as family freedom fighters.  Either view can cause regrettable problems. 
Over the last year I have worked with two prominent LDS scholars who are very outspoken against SSM.  I have heard both of them pejoratively use terms such as “agenda-driven gay activists,” spitting forth the “gay activists” phrase as though they were some reprobate societal plague.  I have witnessed similar vitriol from some of these activists when describing people like me, defenders of traditional family.  I am impressed with neither.  At the end of the day you have only people on both sides- spiritual brothers and sisters who wake up, eat breakfast, face challenges, and then go back to bed again just like you or me.  Certainly members of the church do not want to risk harboring hateful feelings toward any person or group.  It is never appropriate to demonize the opposition when that opposition is constituted only of mortal people. 
It would also be wise to avoid vilifying SSM, as one cannot be certain whether or when their case will ultimately prevail:
“Second, with marriage in America declining in appeal and statistical success, it can use help from whatever quarter. Homosexuals constitute a minority that wishes to affirm this institution and its ideals. Contrary to the hue and cry raised by the extreme right, gays are not trying to dismantle marriage but rather to extend its stabilizing influence on society. By entering into it, they are attempting as individuals and as couples to be socially responsible.[cxix]
“At a time when marriage needs all the support and participation it can get, homosexuals are pleading to move beyond cohabitation.  They want the licenses, the vows, the rings, the honeymoons, the anniversaries, the in-laws, the benefits, and, yes, the responsibilities and the routines.  Same-sex marriage offers the opportunity for a dramatic public affirmation that marriage is for everybody and that nothing else is as good.  And who is telling gays to just shack up instead?  The self-styled friends of matrimony.[cxx]
In the meantime, civil and respectful opposition to their activities is appropriate for those whose consciences so dictate.  

13.  The deadness of the law

Religion should not be a scaffold to maintain the privilege of being right so much as it should be a ladder that prompts us in doing and becoming good.[cxxi]
Many faithful members of the LDS church feel duty bound to “follow the brethren” in insisting that 1) HO is chosen and abominable; and 2) HO members should try very hard to change, since HO is contrary to the Plan and can be routinely reversed.  Either or both of these ideas unquestionably impose excruciating and unnecessary hardship on HO Latter-day Saints, as abundantly evidenced by their personal accounts and disturbingly elevated suicide rates.  Though I and many others conclude that members are not duty bound in this way, I do not condemn those who judge otherwise.   I also do not condemn the 50% of participants in the Milgram experiments[cxxii] who hurt innocent people merely because an authority figure so instructed them.  (In the experiment ordinary people repeatedly sent, according to their understanding, lethal amounts of electricity into the bodies of people who were screaming at the top of their lungs and urgently protesting for their lives).  I may even exculpate those 200 or so faithful members who, under the explicit direction of their Mormon church leaders, massacred in cold blood over 100 unarmed men in the Mountain Meadows Massacre[cxxiii].  (Those very leaders, under the pretense of a white flag and promise of safe passage, beguiled the band of traveling emigrants to yield up their weapons before commanding their slaughter).  The situation of today’s duty-bound members is not so different from that of pre-Christ Jews, who were required to impose excruciating hardship on homosexually behaving people by stoning them to death (Leviticus 20:13).  The difference today is that the imposed excruciating hardship is persistent rather than temporary.  To these members who feel duty-bound to harm homosexually oriented people, I recommend by analogy the account of a homosexual-stoning, pre-Christ society of Jews (2 Nephi 25):
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.  25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments… 27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law… that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
As concluded in chapter 2, homosexual orientation is overwhelmingly biologically caused (genetic + prenatal intraorganismal hormone environment).  Though some few report successfully reversing from a fully homosexual orientation to a fully heterosexual orientation, the predominance of attempts to reverse orientation result in heart-wrenching anguish, intense suffering, excruciating disappointment, and abject failure.  An embrace of SSM would be one way to send the vital message that the unchosen characteristic of homosexual orientation is not evil, and instead can be channeled to further God’s purposes for His children during mortality.  

14.  Eschatology (the afterlife) doesn’t necessarily argue against SSM

Interlocutor: “There are no homosexual unions or marriages in Heaven. As a primary goal of life on Earth is to create eternal family units, giving validity to a same-sex union that will have no validity after this life would be counter-productive for those engaged in it. Also, if same-sex attraction is a mortal "test" equivalent to blindness, cerebral palsy, Down's Syndrome, or mental illness (in the eyes of God), and if those individuals who suffer from same-sex attraction here will no long suffer from it after death or after the resurrection, we do them harm by encouraging or "blessing" what will ultimately be self-destructive behavior (destructive to them).”
In response, I would ask two questions.  First: how is lifelong celibacy’s track record doing for creating eternal family units?  Second:  how about a woman whose husband dies in a car crash two weeks after the wedding?  A woman can only be sealed to one man, and it would be unfair to her first spouse, who committed no fault, to lose his wife to another man.  What LDS man would marry such a woman, to whom he could not be sealed?  Would their children be the posterity of the first husband?  Will he spend his whole life raising and building relationships with his spouse and another man’s progeny, only to lose his wife and/or children in the afterlife?  What rational man in the church would entertain even for a minute the idea of dating this woman when he could instead marry someone he would be with for eternity?  If she was unlucky enough to have her sealed spouse die early on, perhaps her failure in not doing a better job of protecting him justifies her subsequent lifelong invalidity in the church as a legitimate marriage partner.  Perhaps also those single women who are born infertile, whom in the women-heavy dating market men would reasonably pass up in favor of a woman who can meet the church’s naturally reproducing ideal, are also rightly disadvantaged as God’s comeuppance for some transgression on their part. 
I hope these examples sound as repugnant to the reader as they do to me.  The important point here is that, as established in chapter 2, at least for the majority of HO people, they chose to be “that way” as much as the woman above chose to have her husband die early, or as much as naturally infertile women or men chose their infertility.  Our Christian hearts go out to these people, and for some of us our Christian hands as well, in designing something that will enable them to have a family experience in this life- even a less-than-celestial-law something. [It is obvious that we don’t yet live a celestial law in the church.  We live the law of tithing- in the celestial kingdom is the law of consecration.  In the celestial kingdom, looking on a woman to lust after her is adultery- for that offense we don’t even remove a man from his calling, let alone disfellowship or excommunicate him.  In heaven there is no divorce- here temple divorces (sealing cancellations) are frequent and regular.]  What are some examples of the products of these Christian hands?
A bishop might counsel a man to give the young widow serious consideration as a marriage partner.  An understanding young woman might consider dating and marrying an infertile man, even knowing they will never have their own biological children.  A young husband who learns shortly after the wedding that his wife can’t have children decides that, despite his belief in the importance of rearing his own biological children, he will stay with her anyway.  An infertile couple is encouraged to draw on reproductive technologies, in spite of the church’s disfavoring of unnatural types of reproduction[cxxiv] (though I hear the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions has changed to disfavor unnatural reproduction less).  Many couples seek adoption.  Two old people, whose spouses have passed away, marry each other in the temple for time only.  What do all of these examples have in common?  They are attempts in the here and now, in mortality, to provide as much of a family experience as possible to people in a difficult situation they did nothing to choose.  Why are we not more interested in similarly helping homosexually oriented people, whose family prospects are limited for the same non-agentic reasons? 
“If God wants to change the orientation of their sexual feelings in an afterlife, that matter is in his hands, but we can make their lives better here and now.[cxxv]
In the young widow example, most of us would, rather than prescribe lifelong celibacy, encourage her to marry and rear children.  Most of us would hope that men would not write her off as a marriage candidate.  If we would encourage this couple to marry, knowing they will be separated in the afterlife, why would we do so?  Is it not because the value of companionship, even if it is only during mortality, is better than being single?  Some people would scream this out: BEING WITH A SPOUSE IS BETTER THAN BEING ALONE YOUR WHOLE LIFE!  (Moses 3:18- “it was not good that the man should be alone”).  Wrote one:
“But what about the assertions in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” those that concern “the eternal role of gender” and declare an “ideal” familial structure for parent/child relationship? Neither need those beliefs be an impediment to supporting gay marriage. The Church need not accept gay marriages as “eternal”; it would not need to offer temple gay marriages. They could be regarded like civil marriages—for this life only. As the Church views the matter, adjustments are going to have to be made in an afterlife anyway for many people, because many situations involving marriage, singleness, or parent/child/nurturer relationships are not ideally finalized. For those who do their best to live uprightly given their varying mortal circumstances, the afterlife will doubtless satisfactorily resolve itself.[cxxvi]
If we expect that God will “work it out somehow in the afterlife” in the remarried widow example, must we not also expect that God could and would “work it out somehow in the afterlife” for homosexual couples?

15.  A revealed religion need not be conservative

My brother once noted that religions are often “behind the times” of social progress.  To him I responded:

(edited) “It seems strange that religions should be years behind societal changes- you'd think instead that at least a revelation-based religion would be light years ahead on important issues of social justice and truth because of their access to a source of omniscience.  Though I can see the wisdom of non-revelation based (unsupported by direction from heaven) religions using a conservative (old ways are better than new) approach similar to that of the judicial branch, it seems that a revealed religion would be fresh, bold, fearless, and progressive.  A conservative church seems slow to change and risk averse, like an old man, more than strong and fearless and benefit-seeking and truth-filled, like the strapping prophet Joseph.  But, perhaps there's a sensible explanation for the apparent disjoint. 

An example of being years ahead of society that comes to mind would be the Word of Wisdom (other examples include progressive recognition of racial and gender equality, in doctrine at least if not in practice- ""all are alike unto God, black and white, male and female"- 2 Nephi).  A riposte would be blacks and the priesthood, which in 1978 was not only over a decade behind the civil rights movement but over a century behind the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Perhaps church members and leaders are too quick to presume that we already have all the truth we need (a sin we typically charge the Jews with for stopping at the Old Testament instead of accepting Christ and the New; or that we find modern people culpable of for stopping at the Old and not accepting the Another [Book of Mormon: Another Testament]).  Just last Sunday, a bishopric member advocated that I cease my line of questioning.  He made the "it's not important to your salvation" bromide in response to my discussion of some church policies.  Article of Faith nine: "We believe... that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven."  Also, Joseph Smith: "... it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.[cxxvii]"   Given the doctrinal support for the idea that God doesn't work among men save according to their faith and doesn't reveal until His children ask (e.g. the Doctrine and Covenants sections are almost wholly answers to interrogatories), it would seem to make sense for church members and leaders to be knocking down the doors of heaven to obtain answers to tough questions such as homosexual privileges, surrogate motherhood, and social justice, rather than shutting their  praying mouths on a "we've received all we need" basis like the Jews did to Jesus and many today do to President Monson.  (Proverbs 2: 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;  4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;  5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.) 

President Kimball's worrying, praying, and raising of the issue likely resulted in the lifting of the priesthood ban against blacks ("God rarely—if ever—uses his prophets as "teletype machines" who mindlessly transmit God's will word for word—he requires his prophets to inquire with some thought as to potential answers[cxxviii]").  Kimball’s predecessor, Harold B. Lee, speaking on the subject the day he became President, said he “intended to stand by and wait until the Lord speaks.[cxxix]  This passive strategy did not lift the ban.  We must be proactive: “God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.[cxxx]  Perhaps if prophets a century earlier had cared to pray about and resolve the issue the ban would have been lifted then (see especially “Circumstances which preceded the 1978 revelation[cxxxi]”).  Indeed, nine years earlier the ban almost was lifted.  In November 1969, the Quorum of the Twelve passed a proposal that would allow full priesthood for Blacks.  Since President McKay was incapacitated, the two counselors in the First Presidency could have signed the rarely-but-sometimes-used joint declaration of the First Presidency and the Quorum to grant priesthood to those of black African ancestry.  Apostle Lee, absent during the decision, returned and persuaded the Quorum to rescind their vote, holding to “the traditional belief as revealed in the Old Testament that the races ought to be kept together.[cxxxii]  Apostle LeGrand Richards wrote in 1967: “I always say I am not half as much concerned about pleasing the Lord as I am about pleasing all of the Brethren.[cxxxiii]  Lee then pressured First Counselor Hugh B. Brown into signing a statement reaffirming the ban.  Of this experience Brown’s grandson wrote:

“Grandfather managed to add language to Elder Lee’s statement endorsing full civil rights for all citizens, but he still resisted signing the statement.  However, he suffered from advanced age and the late stages of Parkinson’s disease and was ill with the Asian flu.  With Grandfather in this condition, Elder Lee brought tremendous pressure to bear upon him, arguing that with President McKay incapacitated Grandfather was obligated to join the consensus with the Quorum of the Twelve.[cxxxiv]

Of the priesthood ban, and bearing striking parallels to homosexuality, Brown wrote that same year:

“Personally I doubt if we can maintain or sustain ourselves in the position which we seem to have adopted but which has no justification as far as the scriptures are concerned so far as I know.  I think we are going to have to change our decision on that.  The President says that it can come only by revelation.  If that be true then it will come in due course.  I think it is one of the most serious problems confronting us because of course it affects the millions of colored people.[cxxxv]

On the other hand, the Lord didn't lift the ban until about 10 years after President McKay and Hugh Brown's attempts to move in that direction, thus implicating a possibility of some wise purpose(s) in the Lord's forbearance.  It is likely that much truth is withheld because people are so steeped in their traditions (which are acutely manifest by symptoms of conservatism):

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.[cxxxvi]” – Joseph Smith

“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen... Why be so certain that you comprehend the things of God, when all things with you are so uncertain?... Some people say I am a fallen Prophet, because I do not bring forth more of the word of the Lord. Why do I not do it? Are we able to receive it? No! not one in this room.[cxxxvii]” - Joseph Smith 

On the other hand, perhaps the revelation in this area is cohesive, comprehensive, and correct.  Anyway, to conclude, I haven't yet resolved this tension between a revealed religion and its apparent conservativeness as compared to secular society.  

My brother: “Society changes but religion often lags far behind. An example is the infamous case of blacks not being able to receive the priesthood. This was a blatantly racist practice that had no base in the written works. There was even an apostle who said that blacks would never get the priesthood, as god himself was inherently racist (Good 'ol Bruce R. if you were wondering).
My response: Yes, in retrospect that statement seemed unwise.  My friend wrote:
“So why does the Lord not reveal the answers to a prophet so that we can clear up this mess once and for all?  Continuous coddling of God’s people has never been conducive to the development of their faith.  Instead, sustained periods of revelatory abundance and prolonged prophetic spoon-feeding have also penned a tragic scriptural history of deteriorating righteousness ending in eventual destruction.  Don’t believe me?  Read The Holy Bible.  Read The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  A prophet at the help does not automate or ensure salvation- collective or individual.[cxxxviii]

I've heard “SSM-will-never-be-approved” language similar to that about blacks/priesthood which makes me cringe.  Some claim that homosexual behavior will never be approved in the Church because to do so would be counter to the Plan of Salvation.  That conclusion is based on the presumption that homosexual behavior is malum in se (inherently wrong) rather than malum prohibitum (wrong because it’s prohibited)- which is a conclusion frustrated by the simple difficulty of reconciling the Plan with the reality of homosexual orientation.  Other Plan misfits: severe mental retardation, early death, or living one's whole life as a single sister.  Yet all four categories seem involuntary - so what is to be done for these misfits?  Contra non valentem agere nulla currit praescriptio  - "no prescription runs against a person not able to act." They are all children of God as well, and it seems certain that God has made provision for them somehow.  Justitia nemini neganda est - "justice is to be denied to no one." Permit a comparison. 

One: Sexual behavior itself isn't wrong- in fact to a faithful LDS member though it's a sin at one point, it is then condoned and encouraged fifteen minutes later, provided a marriage ceremony intervened (thus heterosexual behavior in a certain category is malum prohibitum, but not malum in se- the same might be the case for homosexual behavior).  If the declaration that homosexual conduct is sinful is rescinded, the conduct is no longer malum (or wrong).  Sublata cuasa, tollitur effectus- "the cause being removed, the effect ceases."

Two: McConkie's afterstatement: "There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, "You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?" All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.  It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.[cxxxix]" Again, it's only the most recent revelation that counts. 

Three: Similarly, the priesthood used to only be extended to males in one of Israel's twelve tribes- now, by dictate, it's extended to all worthy males.  It might later be extended to women or sheep: who's to say?  The euthyphro dilemma ("Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?[cxl]") can thus exhibit a temporal aspect in that what is morally right is merely what has been most recently commanded by God- thus the seeming folly in making future predictions such as "women will never be bishops" or "homosexual marriage will never be approved by God."  Many church members and leaders mistook the prohibition against blacks holding the priesthood as doctrine. It seems more likely in retrospect that it was a practice whose doctrinal foundation ultimately failed.  Similarly, were church leaders to alter their stance about the sinfulness of monogamous, committed homosexual relationships in addition to their current altering of the language they use in discussing such matters (e.g. you don't observe the demeaning "so-called" and derogatory "chosen homosexual lifestyle" language as much in the last decade), it would seem that the church's policy once again reflected practice more than doctrine. 

My brother: “When the world changed and civil rights happened the church realized, years later, that they had to change or become marginalized in American society.

My response: Perhaps- though arguably the Church relied on revelation rather than the realization of marginalization risk regarding polygamy and blacks/the priesthood.  Otherwise they would likely have changed much earlier than they did.  What seems strange is why the revelation didn't precede the persecution and marginalizing effects, given God's foreknowledge.  "This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed[cxli]"- Joseph Smith.  A test of faith?  Because His servants didn't ask (“I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh.[cxlii]”?  You’ve got me.”

Bottom line?  The members of the church are (or at least should be) prepared to follow wherever God leads them.  If social progress is justifiably moving toward an embrace of SSM socially, religiously, and legally- why shouldn’t Christ’s revealed church be ahead of the curve? 

16.  Because we supported polygamy

It's generally appropriate for an institution, such as a church, to take a stand on a consequential issue such as the definition of marriage, provided they're consistent.  For instance, it'd be appropriate for the First Baptist Church to declare, "The only definition of marriage should be/is one man and one woman."  What's not internally consistent is to say "the only definition of marriage always has been and always should be one man and one woman," (for instance, because that's God's unchanging, unqualified position on the matter) then later expand or contract the definition.  The LDS church, for instance, has a vitiated, or at least qualified, foundation from which to declare that marriage is only between one man and one woman.  Why?  Because in the recent past they officially maintained a broader definition (one man and one woman OR one man and several women)!  Polygynous marriages had only two genders, but more than two partners; now, the official definition the LDS church supports is only two genders and two partners.  At first blush these two positions manifest a glaring hypocrisy: 

“God is not the author of incoherence or injustice, but we humans often are. We in the LDS Church must be more honest about our history, including the past and future practice of polygamy in our official doctrine. This will be difficult, for it will reveal that we have been less than truthful in our public relations, and it will show our inconsistency with current statements opposing gay marriage.[cxliii]

Are we not mimicking the type of treatment our polygynist ancestors received in our legal and organized opposition to SSM?  Having so recently received such bitter government persecution (by defenders of traditional marriage!) for practicing an unpopular minority definition of marriage, one might reasonably predict that the LDS church would instead support (or at least refrain from opposing) those who, due to deeply-held beliefs, also desire government recognition and societal tolerance of their practice of an unpopular minority definition of marriage.  Indeed, “many same-sex couples desire to marry for religious reasons.[cxliv]  Certainly an anti-SSM conservative Christian perspective should not be accorded more weight than a pro-SSM progressive Christian perspective: to use partisan language, the Christian right doesn’t have a corner on the religious market.  Though we depart from their religious views, should we not protect as fiercely as we do our own their right to constitutionally-privileged religious exercise? 

Supporting SSM would of course manifest tolerance for the unpopular minority practice, as tolerance is subsumed within support. 

17.  Presuming the principle behind the practice is a hazardous idea

One way to learn about God is to deduce His characteristics based on His behavior.  This is a one of the primary reasons for studying the scriptures.  Since Christ founded and guides the LDS church, it is reasonable to seek to infer some of His attributes from the extant practices in His church.  For instance, in the LDS church bishops lovingly counsel sinning members and help them to repent.  The principle behind this practice would be that God is a counseling, forgiving, and loving Person.  However, this “principle behind the practice” learning approach is fraught with peril.  Why?
Example 1: political vs. moral issues.  The church’s political neutrality statement, in part, says[cxlv]:
“The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.

The Church does not:   
    * Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.   
    * Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
    * Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

The Church does:
    * Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
    * Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.”

Though the Family Proclamation calls “upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society,” the Church claims to not attempt to direct a government leader.  The Family Proclamation is not the only example of the Church’s attempts to influence civic and government matters.  Let’s analyze the practice of the church regarding addressing such issues to determine the principle behind the practice.  The Church used its church buildings and other resources to oppose[cxlvi] the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a rather brief proposed constitutional amendment:
“Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”
(sidenote: “In 1978, a First Presidency statement contained the following quote; ‘We believe the ERA is a moral issue with many disturbing ramifications for women and for the family....and could result in an increase in the practice of homosexual and lesbian activities.[cxlvii]’”)
Through the church’s anti-ERA and pro-Prop 8 activism, one observes what a potent force for political activism LDS women prove when the cause is cast in terms of loyalty to the church and defending the family.  The Church also advocated against SSM in Proposition 8-like state amendments around 1998 in California[cxlviii], Hawaii[cxlix] and Alaska[cl].  The Church’s overt and covert advocacy against the ERA, which- like their support of Proposition 8- arguably tipped the scales of a close race, would seem to indicate the principle that God opposed this gender equality measure.  On the other hand, in the midst of campaigning against the ERA, God/the church felt “significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church” sufficient to speak out against deregulating airlines: “the First Presidency asked all western Congressmen to vote against the deregulation of airlines, hardly a matter of faith or morals.[cli] Perhaps the interests of the church truly were threatened, since it was a significant stockholder in the threatened Western Airlines.  In any case, this advocacy stands in stark contrast to the “aloofness of most LDS leaders toward the civil rights movement of the 1960s because they defined that as a ‘political issue.’[clii]  In “The Case Against Gay Marriage,” Randolph G. Muhlestein in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought wrote:
“Probably most Americans would view the social and legislative accomplishments of the various civil rights movements as among the most important achievements of American society during the last fifty years.[cliii] 
A “principle behind the practice” presumption deduces that God does not agree with most Americans about the “significant community or moral consequences” of the civil rights movement- else why wouldn’t the Church have promoted aspects of the movement in a way similar to its opposition to ERA and advocacy for Proposition 8?  Said one jaded member in his letter to the church requesting the removal of his membership record:
“The Mormon god seems not to care for basic social justice.  The Mormon god did not have his “inspired prophets” march with Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights movement, and none of the leaders of the Mormon Church actively pushed for basic rights for gays, lesbians, and transgender people until the church received negative press from the Church’s support of Proposition 8.[cliv]        
I note here that we could delve into several other relevant examples which verify that “principle behind the practice” peril:
·         The unequal status of women in Christ’s church in both former and modern times, including their severe underrepresentation in scripture
·         The replete scriptural references to God’s wrath and anger, a set of characteristics we are ironically counseled to eschew
·         Changing stances on evolution
·         Blood atonement practiced in 19th and 20th century Utah
·         The regular use of alcohol by church leaders in the 19th century, including Joseph Smith’s lifelong consumption of alcohol
·         Systematic lying, such as Joseph Smith’s denial of his practicing of polygamy
·         Dramatic changes in the temple ceremony over the last two-ish centuries
·         Changes in church teachings about the moral permissibility of oral sex and birth control
·         Church support of racial segregation (e.g. “I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation?[clv]” and “caste systems have their root and origin in the gospel itself , and when they operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of the Lord[clvi]”)
·         Church support of discouraging interracial marriage  (e.g. “To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a ‘Nation of Priesthood holders[clvii]’ and “the whole Negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry,[clviii]” and “We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.[clix]”)
·         Church support of a race-based priesthood discrimination
For the moment, let’s take a closer look at the last bullet.
Example 2: the prohibition against black people holding the priesthood.  The common-sense principle behind this practice is that black people are viewed differently by God than non-black people (or at least that non-black men are viewed differently from black men).  Some conclude from this previously official LDS practice that God is racist, as shown by the abundant paper trail evidencing racist teachings and practices by Christ’s Latter-day apostles[clx].  (See Mac Madsen’s paper[clxi] for why this issue is similar to the SSM).  These teachings are contrary to today’s anti-racist sentiments and 2 Nephi 26: 33: "And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness, and he denieth none that come unto him, black or white, bond or free, male or female, and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God." (2 Nephi 26:33)  We also know that God is impartial[clxii] and no respecter of persons[clxiii].  I will briefly quote just three passages (including two from my current university’s namesake), then move on with why this matters:
1)      “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. [clxiv]” –Brigham Young
2)      “Cain, Ham, and the whole Negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendents of Adam should not inter-marry.[clxv]” – Bruce R. McConkie
3)      "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind… the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race -- that they should be the "servant of servants;" and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree…That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion.“[clxvi]" – Brigham Young

Though the possibility exists that black skinned, flat-nosed people were indeed cursed by God to be the servant of servants until some point between the time of President Young’s teachings and the present day (perhaps because in some way all of Adam’s other descendants have since then received Priesthood keys, blessings, and promises), most of us find this conclusion unsavory- and would instead elect to reject these teachings as the type of scripture-mingled ideas of men we’re warned against.  Were the prohibition viewed as merely a practice rather than a revealed principle, it would presumably need no revelation to reverse.  Were the principle instead revelation, one is left to wonder why an impartial God of truth would share with his prophets the secret[clxvii] that some black-skinned people are uncouth, deprived, unintelligent, and undeserving of the priesthood.  President Wilford Woodruff wrote: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.[clxviii] Wrote Brett Alan Sanders:
“Jesus’s rejection of formalized religion… forces a confrontation—disorienting for many faithful—with our own Church’s corporate structure at over a century-and-a-half’s remove from the Prophet Joseph’s ragged frontier church… Wilford Woodruff promises that neither he nor any prophet-president of the Church will be permitted by God to lead His people astray—a puzzling promise in the light of so many well-established prophetic misstatements.  One solution to that dilemma is to differentiate between when the prophet in question was speaking ‘as a man’ versus as the prophet, but how does that idea help to clarify anything?  What exactly constitutes being led astray?  Does God tolerate His prophets’ errors on science or politics, just so long as they don’t fail to teach faith, repentance, and the importance of sacred ordinances?  And if so, is that idea of any comfort to the gay Mormon who has committed suicide because he can’t bear his enforced separation from those ordinances?[clxix]

President Benson taught, “We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you'll be blessed and time will vindicate you.[clxx]” Another explanation might be therefore that today’s church is in apostasy, since it is apparent both that President Young was not removed out of his place and that the current church’s position contradicts President Young’s future-predicting position.  In addition to finding this explanation unsavory, I think it fails because today’s President is also not removed out of his place. 

The perverse result of concluding that God is racist shows the difficulty of inferring principles from a church practice.  Much as LDS members oppose civil SSM today because they believe God has declared it to be immoral, it is not difficult to see why so many LDS members were apathetic or opposed to aspects of the civil rights movement such as ending segregation, promoting legal equality, and ending racism.  If God is racist in practice and prophetic precept, certainly one is on dangerous ground promoting the “worldly” view of social justice and racial equality.  I for one am grateful here that the worldly view won out, and tend to agree with:

“In the present LDS context of anguished wrestlings over the problematic existence of same-sex attraction among the marginalized faithful, Wills’s treatment of Jesus’s challenge to the very “holiness codes” that his religion and ours still uphold is itself of great importance.  ‘No outcasts were cast out far enough in Jesus’s world to make him shut them out,’ Wills writes, but not so for the Christianity that arose in his name to cast out the Jews: ‘If this sin of ‘racial purity’’—which Wills calls one of Christianity’s greatest sins—’did not cause the Holocaust, in certainly facilitated it.’[clxxi] 

At the risk of over-emphasizing the virtue of charity, I condemn “otherizing” those who are “impure” as among the worst of vices.[clxxii] Yet, just such objectifying seems to have been employed by God’s people to systematically stigmatize, respectively, gentiles, Jews, and black people.  This practice and precept seems violative of:
“One of the things the gospel of Jesus Christ tells us is that our brotherhood with men on this planet is not a mere biological brotherhood but a kind of brotherhood that lets me know that I have an accountability, for my relationships will be perpetuated far beyond today, far beyond here, and far beyond now... I would submit to you that we cannot really forgive each other if our brotherhood is simply a biological brotherhood in which we share the same planet at the same time; the only kind of forgiveness that can operate effectively in the human family grows out of a sense of brotherhood that the gospel of Jesus Christ makes pervasive and persistent.[clxxiii]” (Neal A. Maxwell)

Also: “Violence is not only what we do to the Other.  It is prior to that.  Violence is the very construction of the Other…. Outside by definition but always threatening to get in, the Other is poised in a delicate balance that is always off balance because fear and aggression continually weight the scales.  Identity forged against the Other inspires perpetual policing of its fragile borders.[clxxiv]

These Jew/gentile/race-otherizing religions have, as foreshadowed immediately above, “policed the fragile borders” by fiercely resisting the common humanity of man.  In His mortal ministry, Jesus passionately decried that very resistance.

Some would inquire whether these racism-evidencing statements were made “over the pulpit.”  That this inquiry never arises until a seemingly contrary statement crops up evidences the confirmation bias endemic to such a justification.  Verba debent intelligi cum effectu: words ought to be understood with effect.  A conclusion that these statements were made by these men while not in their role as prophets results in either 1) castigating confidence in current pronouncements by church leaders, or 2) reducing prophetic teachings to an impotent “I’ll pick and choose which teachings to buy into by calling the ones I like prophetic and the ones I dislike their personal views.”  Fairly applying this “not in their role” contention exposes past and present statements by church leaders on homosexuality to dismissal (and as one might imagine, there is a hot debate about the desirability of that dismissal- especially regarding the homophobic and “there’s no such thing as inborn homosexual orientation” subsets).  In any case, the church practice of forbidding homosexuals to marry each other does not necessarily imply that homosexual people are inferior to heterosexual people, nor that He will never open up to them the privilege of approved matrimony.  D&C 56:4 "I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good."

18.  SSM doesn’t necessarily weaken marriage

Some say that gay marriage weakens the institution of marriage.  This is clever wording, as adding same-genderness to a two-partner-only construction of marriage is merely a change which requires an additional value judgment to be deemed a weakening.  What is the justification that the change is negative?  As shown from the blacks and the priesthood analysis, practice-based deductions are suspect.  Two quotes:
“The political and religious rhetoric around the “Protection of Marriage” concept provided the last layer of despair that drove Stuart Matis and others to take their lives.  We must not allow this to happen again.  Whatever our convictions about which unions are appropriate to legalize and which are inappropriate, we must recognize once and for all that in our universe of people there are many dear loved ones who happen to be homosexual and that we are responsible to them, responsible to see them as our own kind, to give them respect, Christlike love, to circle the wagons around them so that they too can be safe and warm.[clxxv] 
Jeffrey Nielsen, an instructor BYU’s Department of Philosophy refused to rehire because of his public views: “Further, to say that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage and the family without giving any reasons why is the fallacy of appealing to fear. Indeed, once you get past the emotion, it is quite an unfounded claim. How could the union of two committed and loving people negatively affect my marriage? I believe that quite the contrary is true; namely, legalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.[clxxvi]
Indeed, “A look across a broader range of countries provides some evidence that gay couples might even be bucking the heterosexual trend of increasing skepticism about marriage.[clxxvii]
As will be seen in chapter 7, some leading proponents of Proposition 8 and other anti-SSM or anti-gay laws and practices seek to condemn homosexual people for various social ills, such as fatherless homes, single parenting, and filial instability.  These attempts bear a strong resemblance to historic anti-Semitic treatment, as persuasively illustrated by Cindy LeFevre in her article, “The Hidden Nazi Mentality in the Proclamation on the Family.[clxxviii]  Also, it seems that legalizing SSM has little or no effect on the marrying and divorcing behaviors of heterosexuals (2009):
“Chapter 4 plunges more deeply into the demographic changes in these countries to ask whether same-sex couples have somehow changed heterosexual marriage choices.  Measures of heterosexual marriage and divorce behavior turn out to suggest that nothing much changed as a result of the recognition of same-sex couples… Opening up marriage to same-sex couples is just the latest step toward renewing marriage’s continuing relevance in the twenty-first century.[clxxix]
I have included more thorough discussion on the “weakens marriage” argument in civil SSM-based chapter 6, much of which draws from “the age-old wisdom that love and sex and marriage go together and are severed at society’s peril.[clxxx]  In another’s words:
“I believe that the norm of sex-love-marriage is the one to go with, because the norm of opposite-sex-only is less important and less fair and is crumbling anyway as the culture adjusts to the reality of same-sex unions.  The fundamental conflict today, if you care about marriage, is not between same-sex marriage and traditional marriage; it is between marriage and nonmarriage.[clxxxi]
In conclusion,
“If marriage is to fulfill its aspirations, it must be defined by the commitment of one to another for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health—not by the people it excludes.[clxxxii]

19.  Increase freedom

“Aside from the specific benefits offered by marriage, access to marriage exemplifies for gays and lesbians the more general goals to which they aspire: respect, legitimacy, and recognition that this very important aspect of their being—the condition that for whatever reason is deeply imprinted in their sense of themselves—does not diminish them or make them second class. As a naturally occurring minority, they claim to be entitled equally to whatever rights and opportunities society can extend. In short, they are looking for their justified place at the table. And since they have no intent to disrupt the feast for the rest of us, nor do we have reasonable and realistic grounds to say that they would compromise our gustatory satisfaction, how can we then deny their request without compromising our own ideals of equity and fairness?[clxxxiii]
The meaningfulness of agency (the power to select an alternative) is inversely correlated to freedom (the number of available alternatives).  Opening up LDS marriage to same-sex couples gives those couples one very significant alternative they didn’t have previously.  Many SSM advocates exemplify: “And now the design of the Nephites was… that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty...,  they were fighting for their homes, and their liberties, their  [spouses] and their children, …for their rites of worship….  their families...their freedom…”  -Alma 43:9, 45, 47, 48.  Wrote Clay Essig:
“In LDS Seminary and Institute, I was taught marriage, our choice of who we marry and how, is one of the most important and personal choices or exercises of our God given agency we can make in mortality. If marriage is an exercise of personal choice and agency for us, isn’t it the same for our Gay and Lesbian neighbors?
Our Father in Heaven declared: “…because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him… by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3). Do we Latter-day Saints believe and live by these words of God? Can our Father in Heaven teach us any more clearly that when we seek to destroy the agency of any of His children we are doing Satan’s work, not God’s; and in so doing we put our souls in serious jeopardy of being cast down? Or do we believe God has suddenly changed and is now pleased when we legislatively seek to destroy the agency of the millions of His Gay and Lesbian children to marry and raise families according to their conscience and religious beliefs? If we Latter-day Saints vote to destroy the ability of millions of God’s Gay and Lesbian children to choose to enter the sacred and loving bonds of marriage, what will we say to God in our final judgment if He asks, “Did you seek to destroy the agency of any of my children?[clxxxiv] 
Also, we have a strong belief in allowing others to freely exercise their religious beliefs.  Thus, for at least that subset of SSM advocates that possess a religious belief that same-gender couples should be allowed to marry, we should at least refrain from opposing them.  “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience… human law…should never suppress the freedom of the soul…holding sacred the freedom of conscience…  "We believe that … governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions…"  (Doctrine and Covenants 134:2, 4, 5, 7- emphasis added).  Even if we personally disagree with their dictates of conscience, it might be wise to get out of the way or join homosexuals fighting for honorable marriage over the anti-family alternatives of lifelong celibacy, promiscuity, or cohabitation to which society has consigned them.  Is not marriage a better family alternative for these people than promiscuity, celibacy, or cohabitation? 
·         “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 3:4)
·         “And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.” -D & C 49:15
·         “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40

To close:

“Do we care enough about the well-being of our homosexual brothers and sisters to allow them a socially approved, supportive structure of love, acceptance, and security like that enjoyed by married heterosexuals, and the opportunity to grow together with a loved one in sustained, committed intimacy? Jesus did say that we should judge human behaviors by their fruits, that is, by their practical outcomes, not by some ideology (Matt. 7:16). Scripture teaches us by implication that it is not good for a man (or a woman) to be alone (Gen. 2:18). If two people of whatever gender commit to each other that they will love, cherish, and support each other without reservation through life’s vicissitudes, will not such commitment likely bear good fruit—and should we not support that? I say yes![clxxxv]

20.  Integrity, Security, Community, and Happiness

A virtue ethics perspective evaluates moral choices based on what character attributes result from conduct, and what way of living results in eudemonia (also known as human flourishing, or “the good life”).  To juxtapose the alternatives of either including or excluding same-sex couples from marriage, a virtue ethicist might ask which produces the superior virtue profile.  I argue here that SSM, more than its absence, contributes to the character attributes/moral goods of happiness, community, security, and integrity.  Because the support for these claims is found in stories and quotes elsewhere in the book, I will avoid repetition by merely outlining this argument without many references.
Integrity is often viewed as encompassing two or three of these concepts: 1) wholeness, 2) commitment keeping, and 3) honesty/authenticity.  Compared with mixed orientation marriages (MOM) and celibacy, SSM on average accords more of all three to homosexually oriented people.  Many (though not all) homosexuals in MOM’s feel or act duplicitously[clxxxvi] (abrogating honesty and authenticity), and many feel a great hole in their lives roughly characterized by the lack of an intimate and/or romantic relationship with someone he or she is erotically, emotionally, and romantically attracted to.  I assume that divorce is more common in MOM’s compared with SSM (a whopping 85% in the first three years after coming out for MOM’s where the husband comes out to his wife after they’re married[clxxxvii]).  The norm of encouraging gays and lesbians to “stay in the closet” or pretend to be and/or act “straight” is also inconsistent with integrity for many homosexuals:
“[The norm] tells gay people that [it] is acceptable to be gay as a matter of fact, but that it is unacceptable for gay people to act out that identity—to show same-sex affection, to discuss their sexuality in any significant way, to engage in behaviors that are perceived as ‘gay’… this denial of integrity, this severing of the self, can exact significant physic damage on gay people and their relationships, and is ultimately stifling and harmful to society as a whole, particularly in a society in which we all, gay or straight, have some attribute that society pressures us to downplay in order to fit into the mainstream.[clxxxviii]
“An individual who acts consistently with his or her sexual orientation acts in a morally good manner.  A person who acts in that fashion will be able to feel happiness (including sexual pleasure) more authentically and will be more likely to live a life of honesty and integrity.  By contrast, a person who acts inconsistently with his or her sexual orientation is more likely to experience unhappiness (including sexual deprivation and dissatisfaction) and is more likely not to have integrity in his or her life.  A corollary of such choices is that the person who becomes the spouse of a person who is acting inconsistently with his/her sexual orientation is also more likely to experience unhappiness in his/her life.[clxxxix]
“I credit the atonement for the change that occurred in me. I obtained a new view of God and self. I could finally see myself with God. And THAT is how I know that my decision to live as a gay person was the right one. Because all those years of trying to change, trying to suppress it, trying to pluck it out of me drove a wedge further and further between myself and God. He became so distant that I could no longer see how He could possibly exist. But the minute that I accepted my sexuality and decided that I would move forward doing the best I could as a gay man, living honestly with myself and others, God was in my life. He was all around me, and I was suddenly enabled to be a tool in His hands.[cxc]

I now add security to the list of virtues/moral goods begun by integrity.  The security (meaning both security in the relationship, the marriage, and in perceived physical, emotional, and psychological security which often results from an intimate, committed, society-supported relationship) of homosexual couples is a moral good that society should value.  That security is increased by SSM compared to SSM’s absence.  Also as supported elsewhere in the book, homosexuals on average are happier when SSM is available compared to when it is not.  Last, because marriage connects a couple to their community more than does celibacy and cohabitation, the virtue of community connection/commitment is enhanced.

In conclusion, SSM enables many homosexual people to live with 1) greater integrity, 2) greater security, 3) greater happiness, and 4) greater commitment/connection to their community (note that the framework engenders, rather than guarantees, that enhanced capacity)[cxci]. 

21.  Homosexually oriented people are children of God

“Jesus’s pronouncements and his behavior… challenge us to reach out to others generously, flexibly, and inclusively rather than seeking to justify exclusion. Why and how these Christian principles relate to the question of committed homosexual marriages should be obvious.[cxcii]
Is the gospel for everyone or isn’t it?  That SSM should be made available to HO people is essentially an argument from equality:
“And why the presumption of equality?  That we may truly love our neighbor, for if we cannot love him as our equal, as ourselves, we do not really love him.  And if we cannot truly love our neighbor, we cannot be “one,” and if we are not one, we are not “His” (D&C 38:27).[cxciii]
As children of God, homosexually oriented people deserve the privileges and opportunities equally available to all of God’s children.  “God is no respecter of persons.[cxciv]  There is no “separate but equal” to Him (the clause comes from a famous US Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, which recognized segregation and was overturned by Brown v. Board’s declaration that separate is inherently unequal).  We buy into the Nephite tradition: “…it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds." - Alma 30:7.  Also, king Mosiah wrote to his people::
“And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.”  - Mosiah 29:32
Homosexual members are in every way equal before God and are candidates for exaltation.  Even their tithing monies support chapels and temples in which they themselves are forbidden to marry a chosen spouse.  Because homosexually oriented people don’t have equal access to heterosexual marriage (they are for the most part counseled against it) and are by nature generally ill-positioned for it, a logical deduction from equality is that an equal institution should be made available to them: LDS SSM. 
Ubi eadem ratio ibi idem jus, et de similibus idem est judicium” (when there is the same reason, then the law is the same, and the same judgment should be rendered as to similar things).

22.  There are many benefits from marriage to both individuals and society

The literature abundantly evidences the many benefits of marriage that do not necessarily also attach to cohabitation (though these benefits are correlated to marriage, I am not yet aware of substantial evidence supporting causation).  Might not at least most of these benefits be realized by married homosexual couples in addition to married heterosexual ones?  The opportunity cost for LDS homosexuals is lifelong celibacy, which is much less likely to bring about these effects (see this footnote[cxcv] for bullets below that don’t have their own citation- most of the following is an excerpt):
Benefits for both genders:
·         Married people have longer life expectancies than unmarried peers[cxcvi].
·         Married people are more productive, have higher incomes, and enjoy more family time than the unmarried. This is due in part to the division and specialization of labor, where spouses each take responsibility for specific tasks[cxcvii].
·         Married people are more likely to volunteer. Married adults were 30% more likely than unmarried adults to have volunteered [for social service], and married adults averaged 40% more volunteer hours than unmarried individuals. In addition, parents were also twice as likely as childless adults to volunteer for social service.
·         Married people experience less depression. Married people had considerably less depression and fewer problems with alcohol than did unmarried people. Men who married and stayed married were less depressed than those who remained single. Among women, marriage was associated with fewer alcohol problems.
·         Getting married increases the probability of moving out of a poor neighborhood. Marrying nearly doubled the probability that a person would move from a poor to a non-poor neighborhood. Likewise, the dissolution of a marriage more than doubled the probability that a person would move from a non-poor to poor neighborhood. Among blacks, marital dissolution increased the likelihood of moving from a non poor to a poor neighborhood almost six-fold.

Benefits for Men:
·         Marriage encourages better relationships between parents and children, especially father-child interactions[cxcviii]. -Brad Wilcox
·         Married men gain substantial physical health benefits; they are physically fitter and less prone to illness or disability[cxcix].
·         Mortality rates are two-thirds as high among married men as among single men. Married men (and women) are less than half as likely as their divorced counterparts to attempt suicide.
·         Married men have lower levels of testosterone which is associated with a reduction in aggressive and risky behavior, as well as promiscuity[cc].
·         Married men are less likely to have alcohol and drug addictions, to commit crime, and to be abusive[cci].
·         Single men have almost six times the probability of being incarcerated as married men.
·         Men's financial gains are substantial. Married men make 25 percent more money than single men, and two-parent families are five times less likely to be in poverty than single-parent families.
Benefits for Women:
·         Compared to unmarried women, married women without children have higher incomes and married mothers are less likely to live in poverty[ccii].
·         For women, marriage combats depression, provides particularly high psychological benefits, and significantly lowers the risk of suicide[cciii].
·         Studies show that wives are 30 percent more likely to rate their health excellent or good than single women of the same age. In addition, married women (and men) are less likely to suffer long-term chronic illness or disabilities than single women. And mortality rates are less than one-third as high among married women as among non-married women.
·         Women gain financially as well--marriage increases income by 50 percent for women (25 percent for men)--and domestic violence rates decrease substantially. Married women are far less likely to be victims of intimate-partner violence than divorced, separated, or never-married women. The rate per thousand for divorced or separated women is 31.9; never married women, 11.3; married women, just 2.6.

Wayne Schow, in a Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought article, similarly argued:
     “First, marriage, as experts agree, does promote stability in people’s lives: better health, fewer risky behaviors, more satisfying sex lives, larger incomes, greater longevity, and in general greater happiness than single or divorced people. Stable lives mean fewer problems that society must deal with. Why, then, is it not in society’s interest to make the stabilizing influence of marriage available to a significant minority that, not surprisingly, has suffered for want of it? If gays are statistically more subject to health risks and have higher rates of depression, addiction, and suicide, surely the lack of social acceptance and of equal opportunity for socially approved unions is partly responsible. Leveling the playing field would undoubtedly improve these conditions. Consider, for example, how the introduction of gay marriage has the potential of reducing sexual promiscuity among gays (as marriage reduces promiscuity among heterosexuals) and thereby reducing the spread of AIDS.[cciv]

The Economist made a corroborating claim:
“We have, for example, lived through a period in which around 300,000 young Americans died of a terrible disease that was undoubtedly compounded by the total lack of any social incentives for stable relationships. Imagine what would happen to STD rates or legitimacy rates if heterosexual marriage were somehow not in existence. Do you think that straight men would be more or less socially responsible without the institution of civil marriage?[ccv]

Along similar lines, Jonathan Rauch argued:
“But what may not be obvious is the stake straight society has in helping homosexuals establish settled lives.  One way to see that stake is to reflect on the AIDS crisis and its enormous social cost (to say nothing of the horrific cost in gay lives).  A culture of marriage might not have stopped the virus altogether, but it certainly would have slowed the virus down, and saved who knows how many lives and who knows how much money and agony.  A sexual underworld is inevitable in every society, but in a marriageless society its extent is greater and its allure stronger.  And, of course, its cost is higher.  Syphilis, gonorrhea, and all the rest have haunted sexual underworlds since long before AIDS appeared.  Beyond disease, there is a moral cost.  In the context of heterosexual life, conservatives take for granted that a culture in which marriage is the norm is a healthier culture for children.  It has always struck me as peculiar that so many conservatives have denounced the “homosexual lifestyle”—meaning, to a large extent, the gay sexual underworld—while fighting tooth and nail against letting gays participate in the institution which would do the most to change that lifestyle.[ccvi]

23.  Benefits from marital homosexual conduct

In addition to the benefits mentioned in the section above, the likely sexual conduct between committed same-sex partners may be morally beneficial in the same ways as marital heterosexual conduct.  I will address both sides of why this may be so: 1) avoiding harm and 2) promoting human love.  

Avoiding Harm:

There is potential for harm to individuals that comes from restricting their opportunities for sex and romance.  To the homosexual who cannot control his or her homosexual feelings, Elder Oaks counseled not to enter into heterosexual marriage[ccvii].  This amounts to a prohibition against sex if not also necking, kissing, flirting, and other romantic and sexual gestures between two persons of the same sex attracted to each other[ccviii].  Presuming persistent orientation, the statement also removes reasonable hope of sexual expression during this life, if not also a reasonable hope of other romantic expressions with a partner one is attracted to in sexual and/or romantic ways.  Wrote Wayne Schow:
     “To understand why we are morally obliged to grant homosexuals the right to marry, we must look at the larger, central, complex role of sexuality in human lives.  Whether or not we like to admit it, we are sexual beings. For most of us, sex is one of the most fascinating, mysterious, and challenging aspects of life. Like the Grand Canyon, it’s awesome, dazzlingly beautiful at times, powerfully inviting, and also potentially dangerous to negotiate. On the one hand, we are like lesser animals in the inescapability of our sexuality; on the other, we sense in it a godlike power. Mythology and folklore from earliest times and disparate cultures perceived this power and framed the creative acts of the gods in sexual metaphors. On some primordial level we know that sexuality is an energy that underlies and drives creation. It is a basic human need, a basic human privilege. And so a life without sexual fulfillment is not a complete life, however good it otherwise may be.[ccix]
Though my experience will not match that of all others, I personally find it difficult to advise another to embrace celibacy, which is something I would probably be unwilling to do myself.

The most intense and persistent psychological stress I have experienced during the last 10 years has resulted from repressing my sexual impulses.  I am committed to abstinence from premarital sex and other sexual indulgences.  The clash between this commitment and my uninvited, often nigh-consuming libido has caused me intense pain, discomfort, and suffering.  Much like choosing to eat, sleep, breathe, or defecate, one can elect to refrain- but she cannot choose the consequences of such consistent omissions, which are often quite negative and severe.  Because long-term repression of romantic and sex drives runs so counter to fundamental human biology[ccx], it unsurprising leads to depression, anxiety, frustration, and a pall of apathy or deadness, to name but a few outcomes.  Similar outcomes result from the lack of human touch, which is more likely to be the experience of many gay men in an anti-homotactile, keep-gays-away-from-children, homophobic culture (though the cultural norms for female touching are mercifully more liberal).  I have the freedom to mitigate these deleterious results by kissing, dating, cuddling, and seeking a legitimized sexual relationship with a female partner I am attracted to.  Ending a lengthy kissing abeyance with a blossoming new relationship helps me feel alive again.  It would be unreasonable for me to presume that at least some subset of my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters do not have a similar experience.  Thus, in applying the golden rule to me personally, to condemn this subset to a lifetime without sex and/or romance is at the least unfair, and at the most immoral (this conclusion may hold at the society level as well).  Indeed, if an authoritarian regime told me to stop dating, kissing, and pursuing a legitimate sexual relationship for the remainder of my life, I can easily imagine myself rebelling against that regime (likely with some carefully chosen, colorful language on my way out the door).  I can also see myself rebelling similarly were I instructed by an authority figure to deny, ignore, or refute such a core component of my identity.

In addition to this narrow conclusion as to effect on repressed persons, it is also reasonable to consider the indirect consequences that occur to others as a result of the repression-linked negative conduct of individuals who choose to follow the Church’s counsel to unnecessarily repress their sexual and romantic feelings.

Promoting Human Love:

Is sexual conduct morally praiseworthy or worthy of condemnation?  The short answer is: it depends, running the spectrum from reprehensible to exalting.  The relevant factors are 1) context and 2) the motive of the individual. 

Are the couples in a recognized, committed relationship, or not?  Premarital/extramarital, uncommitted sex is presumed to be less moral than marital sex:

“The Lord’s law of moral conduct is abstinence from sexual relations outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage.  Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife, expressed within the bonds of marriage.[ccxi]

Sex within SSM can fulfill the same purpose.  Summarizing a federal court’s analysis, Michael Sandel wrote:
“The marital relationship is significant, wrote the court of appeals, not only because of its procreative purpose but also ‘because of the unsurpassed opportunity for mutual support and self-expression that it provides.’  It recalled the Supreme Court’s observation in Griswold [v. Connecticut] that ‘marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.’ And it went on to suggest that the qualities the Court so prized in Griswold could be present in homosexual unions as well: ‘For some, the sexual activity in question here serves the same purpose as the intimacy of marriage.[ccxii]’”

Motive of the Individual:
This factor, like context, merits great weight when calculating the morality of sexual conduct.  Both the Catholic and LDS churches have historically alternated between focusing solely on procreation on the one hand, and the mutual love and fulfillment of the marriage partners on the other, as acceptable purposes for marital sexual conduct[ccxiii].  The modern view of both is that marital sexual relations are appropriate outside of the strict procreative purpose; though a virgin myself, I would predict that most married couples would find this result intuitive, since the majority of sexual conduct between marital partners is not only or in many cases even partly the motive.  An expressed Catholic view on this subject will likely ring true for many Latter-day Saints:

“The mutual inward moulding of husband and wife, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Cathechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of children, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof.[ccxiv]


“Pure conjugal love ‘involves the good of the whole person.’ In such statements the lie is given to the notion that sex in marriage is evil, or only a concession to concupiscence, or valid only for procreation.[ccxv]

It is common to consider same gender sexual conduct as an obvious perversion of the biological function of the sexual organs.  However:

“We do not find it ‘contrary to nature’ that man has taken the hands which biological evolution provided him as grasping instruments and employed them in the ideal creative pursuits of wielding a brush or pen.  Nor do we find it contrary to nature that man has used his mouth with its teeth, tongue and lips, obviously intended by nature for eating, in order to communicate through speech and song his most intimate aspirations.  Nor should we find it any less according to nature for procreation, in order to give the most intimate expression to his drive for union in love with his fellow man.[ccxvi]

Additionally, a naturalistic argument for sexual conduct negates any possibility of understanding human sexual conduct as having a component of the human dimension of interpersonal love:[ccxvii]

“It is this personal uniqueness of every individual which forms the necessary basis for the possibility of human love.  A loving action, even if it takes the form of a sexual gesture, must be directed to the other as unique, as end in himself or herself.  To treat another person merely as a means to an end that lies outside the person himself represents a failure to love that person as unique.

From this personalist viewpoint an overemphasis on procreation can be seen as leading potentially to a seriously immoral and dehumanizing form of sexuality.  Modern consciousness has been sensitized by the movement for women’s rights to the fact that to understand the female exclusively in a functional manner as ‘bearer of children’ is a depersonalizing and, therefore, immoral attitude.  Such an emphasis can be seen as in conflict with the Gospel emphasis on the respect and love due to one’s fellow human as a person.  As we have seen, a general consideration of scriptural data concerning sexual behavior leads to only one certain conclusion: those sexual relations can be justified morally which are a true expression of human love.  The call of the Gospel to man is not one of conforming passively to biological givens; rather, that call is to transform and humanize the natural order through the power to love…

The wife who withholds sex with a view to negotiating a fur coat is acting immorally; she is behaving like a prostitute, even if a legal prostitute. And the husband who uses his wife as a convenient instrument of masturbation, seeking exclusively his own egotistical pleasure, is immoral and remains so even if the act is open to the possibility of procreation.  From these examples it should be obvious that there is something more to the moral quality of sexual behavior that the purely objective legal question of marriage, or even the objective rational question of openness to procreation.  Something else ought to be present; and that something else is love.  Are your using your sexual powers as a means of expressing your love?  Are you centering your existence in the one you love and seeking his or her fulfillment in what you are doing?  The human conforms to the divine image… not by acting in an impersonal, rational way, but by acting from a motive of love.[ccxviii]

Thus, the increase of human love as can be expressed through sexual conduct in a committed homosexual partnership, stands as another benefit of SSM.

24.  Many LDS homosexuals will opt for a monogamous homosexual union anyway

Cloy Jenkins wrote:
“Most of the young homosexual men here will sooner or later meet and come to love another man. Most of them would prefer their friend to be of the same background and share the same values and faith. Ironically, the Church discourages this, drives the homosexual underground and out of the Church to seek his friends elsewhere. Sadly enough, many do as they are told on this point, and instead of associating openly and maturely among their own kind here, they take to more questionable social settings where their sexuality is accepted but their values seldom respected. Originally, these men were looking for love. They soon find themselves forced into places and lives, where sex, not love, is the name of the game. It is one of those strange contradictions of life that finds the Church directly instrumental in encouraging a loveless, lonely life of dubious morality.[ccxix]
Said another:
“Many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, knowing that heterosexuality is not possible for them, and seeing celibacy as an unsatisfying and unacceptable alternative, will opt for a loving, spiritually fulfilling monogamous relationship, seeing it as the more moral choice, the one most in keeping with their sense of what God wants for them, even if it means being unable to function in the Church. This decision is made reluctantly, no doubt with agonizing reluctance. These people find themselves in a position they never would have supposed or chosen under normal circumstances – being able to do more to exercise a Christian life of service, sacrifice, and personal growth outside the Church than they would be able to achieve by remaining celibate and staying in the Church. I believe that given that terrible “Sophie’s Choice,” most gay LDS have opted or will opt for a committed same-sex relationship - their understanding of the gospel and their pleadings with God will impel the majority in that direction. This decision will not be made out of a spirit of defiance or rebellion or disagreement with spiritual truths, but just the opposite, because of devotion to those very ideals. The above commentary is not intended as a prescription of what gay LDS people ought to do, but a prediction about what is most likely to happen based on my past observations[ccxx].”
Gary Watts argued:
“I believe [some form of sanctioning or affirming committed, monogamous same-sex relationships] has the potential to provide some reward and incentive for gay members to sustain a committed, monogamous relationship that would have value for the church. If gay members in committed relationships were able to feel that their relationship had value and that it would enable them to remain members of the church, I believe that most of the animosity currently extant would evaporate overnight. Other benefits to the church would flow naturally. Gay members would continue to be active in the church and would be able to make contributions which are sorely missed presently... Gay and lesbian members would, for perhaps the first time, feel welcome that they finally have a place in the church. The church could even become a place where gay members with an interest in things of the spirit could socialize rather than congregate in gay bars. The exodus of so many gay members and their families and friends from the church would cease, and acrimonious feelings and expressions would certainly diminish. Many individuals, unable to give unqualified support to the church because of this issue, would return to the fold and once again become its advocates.[ccxxi]
M.V. Lee Badgett, featured on the SSM debate on The Economist, wrote:
“In America, almost 600,000 same-sex couples live together. The experience of the states that allow those couples to marry suggests that most of them will jump at the chance. In Massachusetts, two-thirds (and counting) of same-sex couples have married since 2004.[ccxxii]
There is also reason to conclude that marriage stability is increased when 1) couples marry within a church, 2) couples have a good relationship with their families, and 3) the couples are embedded within an approving network of friends and community[ccxxiii].  Willingness to invest in the relationship and children is key difference between married and cohabiting heterosexual couples[ccxxiv], and the existence of a similar correlation among homosexual couples is not unreasonable.  One story:
“Bill and Robert considered themselves “soulmates.” When Robert fell fatally ill, the admitting Maryland hospital knew through his accompanying medical records- and Bill’s statements to hospital staff- that Bill was Robert’s family and legal agent for health care decisions.  But the hospital blocked any communication between them, saying that only “family” were allowed access to patients.  Bill was forced to watch with mounting anguish and humiliation as families of other patients arrived and quickly were escorted in to see their loved ones.  Robert slipped into unconsciousness, alone and without comfort, support, and solace during his final hours.  He never saw or spoke with Bill before his death.
Not infrequently, the lack of marriage’s kin-creating tools can cripple commitment when the need is greatest.[ccxxv]
LDS SSM would help in the cultural and legal movement for civil SSM.  Both are likely to bring the beneficial kin-creating, commitment-to-each-other strengthening, investing-in-children aspects of marriage to society and homosexuals. 
If many church members will opt to seek a monogamous same-gender union, necessarily sacrificing their membership in God’s church, why not let them have the union and keep their membership too?  In light of the intense desires of and sacrifices by many of them to keep God’s commandments and live a family life as He would have them, should we not support their attempts rather than prescribe the anti-family institution of celibacy? 

25. Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is not clear

My judgment is susceptible to confirmation bias.  In the area of biblical interpretation, as in many areas, my judgment is also (and unfortunately) based on thin research.  Now there are, as one would imagine, rebuttals[ccxxvi] to the arguments I present below.  Though I have found many of these rebuttals to be unpersuasive insofar as I have researched, I encourage those interested in a balanced inquiry to review them- in this section I will primarily represent only that side which supports the title.
“The Church pamphlet "Hope for Transgressors" states that there are many scriptures that condemn homosexuality and lists 74. Of that list, only 4 actually refer to homosexuality. Two of those are from the old Jewish law contained in Leviticus. Application of the ancient Jewish law is, in our time, forbidden by federal and state law and ecclesiastically obsoleted through the Gospel of Christ. Many of the statutes of the old law carrying heavy penalties are not followed at all by the Saints today. Standing on their own, the references from ancient Jewish law are mainly of historical value. The other two references in this list are from Paul's writings. Not one of the other 70 references can be construed to refer to homosexuality directly. Instead, these references deal with faith, repentance and the evils of sin generally. They are obliquely applicable to the view of homosexuality as presented in the pamphlet but by no means do they accomplish what the list was supposed to prove—that the Bible condemns homosexuality.[ccxxvii]
“It is possible, of course, to read the Bible from an absolute or inerrant perspective. In such a view the words of the Biblical writers are self-evident, to be interpreted literally (never metaphorically nor symbolically), reflect precisely the mind and will of God, and are timeless, in that they apply without alteration regardless of peoples, culture, or circumstance. Alternatively, one can believe that careful study is required to distinguish the literal from the figurative, and accept that a revelatory message might be imperfectly understood, even by an inspired human recipient, or imperfectly transmitted through or between the sometimes inadequate instrument of languages. Latter-day Saints accept the latter proposition, believing it to be consistent with broad implications of the Mormon declaration that the “Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” One of these implications of this qualification is that a thoughtful investigation is required in the search for understanding. What follows, then is an attempt to scrutinize those Biblical passages that have been traditionally used to condemn homosexuality.
Conventional wisdom has it that the destruction by God of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis 19 can be attributed to homosexuality practiced by their citizens. This view is inappropriately perpetuated through the conventional use of the words sodomy and sodomite. A thoughtful analysis of the Biblical texts, however, demonstrates that this conclusion is not valid. In the account, Lot violates the cultural mores of Sodom by inviting strangers (in this case two heavenly agents) into his home. Sodom’s people were not hospitable. A crowd of some citizens gathers and demands that the two be turned over to them, in order “that we may know them.” That the word “know” has a sexual connotation in this context (not the much more frequent use of the Hebrew “yada,” meaning recognize, acknowledge, make known, or punish has been assumed because in refusing to invite the strangers into their homes Lot alternatively offers his virgin daughters in appeasement. (We note that the Inspired Version renders the text as “. . . let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you.”) The story is also remarkably similar to another account in Judges 19-21 in which the outcome is more clearly a gang rape of the house guests. The critical insight in interpreting this account is that the inhabitants of Sodom are condemned, for reasons not specified, before the incident at Lot’s home. Divine judgment has been passed previously (the Lord had earlier informed Abraham of what would happen), and is not a consequence of the events at the doorstep. In fact the angels have been sent to execute the destruction. A review of the subsequent Biblical references to Sodom (in seven books of the Old Testament and six books of the New Testament) does not justify the conclusion that the problem of the city’s people was sexual. (The one possible exception is Jude 7 which cites fornication and the vague statement “going after strange flesh,” where the Greek word “sarx” is variously interpreted to mean food, the body, human beings, or human nature - frailties or passions [133].) Most frequently Sodom and Gomorrah are cited together as a metaphor for wickedness: “. . . as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,” Isaiah 13:19. An unequivocal statement of the real source of the wickedness, however, is made by Ezekiel. “Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). The Sodomites were selfish and uncaring. As a reflection of their arrogance and unwillingness to care for those in need, they turned away strangers. Jesus had this same view. He says that people in those cities who fail to host and be receptive to the missionary apostles will be under greater condemnation than those of Sodom and Gomorrah (because they also were inhospitable) - repeated in Matthew 10:15, Mark 6;11, and Luke 10:12. Sodomites were not homosexuals; they were people bereft of charity.
If, in fact, those who gathered at Lot’s door were intent in gang raping his visitors, this can be universally condemned as despicable, a sadistic act of violence. Such behavior was apparently not uncommon in the ancient world as part of the violence inflicted by victorious armies upon the vanquished. It must be clearly distinguished, however, from a same-sex romantic encounter. This propensity for cruelty and the exploitation of other people may, in fact, be the reason why the word sodomite was used pejoratively, as, for example, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, where it is probably a reference to male prostitutes associated with Canaanite and Babylonian fertility rituals. The interpretation that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality, mistreatment of aliens, and a lack of generosity is strongly supported by ancient Jewish religious texts (the Babylonian Talmud). The (unreliable) connection of Sodom with same-gender sex was first made thousands of years after the fact by Philo of Alexandria, whose life spanned that of Jesus and the early church fathers. It then became the dogma of the fledgling Catholic Church, espoused, for example by Augustine. Latter-day Saints should not accept an erroneous notion that became part of Christian religious canon during that apostate period of history when legitimate revelation was in such short supply[ccxxviii]” (emphasis added). 
Justin W. Starr, author of a FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research), wrote in 2004[ccxxix]:
“The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is short and ultimately unsatisfying in the search for certainty concerning the Biblical treatment of homosexual conduct.  In the ancient literature Sodom is destroyed for reasons as varying as arrogance to pederasty… [quoting another] ‘the city was consequently destroyed not for sexual immorality but for the sin of inhospitality to strangers.’
Lack of hospitality is in fact a common explanation for the destruction of Sodom, both in modern and ancient literature.  Kugel, in his commentary, notes that being ‘stingy and unhospitable, especially to strangers, was no small matter.  From ancient times, this had been considered a particularly grave fault.’
The Hebrew word for yadah, the proponents of the inhospitality theory argue, means literally “to know” or “become acquainted with,” and has no sexual connotation as used by the men of Sodom.  ‘When the Hebrew bible does refer to homosexual intercourse or bestiality, it uses the verb shakabh, not found in this story.’ Shakabh is translated ‘to lie with,’ such as the Levitical prohibition that a man not ‘lie with’ another man. 
It is also noteworthy that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used by the Jews of Christ’s day) version of this passage implies nothing more than ‘become familiar with’ or ‘become acquainted with’ (suggenometha autois).  This is in sharp contrast to the verbs the Septuagint employes in reference to Lot’s daughters (egnosan, khresasthe), which clearly denote sexual activity… Jesus himself declared the sin of Sodom to be inhospitality when he tells his disciples that ‘if anyone does not receive you… it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town’ (Matthew 10:14-15).”
Back to our former author:
“The main Old Testament scripture they refer to is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The very scholarly research of Derrick Bailey in Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition reveals that it was centuries after its destruction before a homosexual interpretation was ever attributed to the sins of Sodom. Once applied, the interpretation has stuck, and Sodom to this day remains erroneously synonymous with homosexuality. The bulk of the few remaining Biblical references to homosexuality come from the writings of Paul in his epistles to the Romans, Corinthians and Timothy. Though some experts doubt that Paul is directly referring to homosexuality, it appears to me that there is little doubt that he is, and that he condemns the practice. But several other crucial facts must be squarely faced by all parties who give scriptural authority to the problem of homosexuality. The belief was current in the Mediterranean culture of Paul's time that overindulgence in heterosexual activities would make a man effeminate and turn him into a homosexual. The notion held that the heterosexual profligate would simply wear out and become bored with "normal" sex and by dint of its unusualness, would turn to the taboos, one of which would be homosexuality. This explains Paul's condemnation of men who "turn from" the "natural use" of the woman to lust after each other. The homosexual who reads this scripture is bewildered, realizing that he has never "turned from" the woman. His "natural" desire has always been for a man and sex with a woman is for him "unnatural." He connects with Paul's condemnation of the homosexual activity of these men but is at a loss to see how their activities and his situation coincide. The young men to whom this scripture has been read by their bishops come away only more confused about their sexuality, especially if they have not yet had any kind of sexual experience but are keenly aware of the desire they have always had. The responsible application of Paul's statement to the Romans requires that one subscribe to the theory that too much heterosexual sex will turn a person into a homosexual. This general notion is still held as valid by the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Awake, March 15, 1977) In the most strict interpretation, Paul was condemning wanton heterosexuals who were turning for sheer novel pleasure to sexual activities outside of their "natural" desires.[ccxxx]
The prohibitions of Leviticus:
“It is helpful to put the Old Testament verses of scripture that comment on same-gender sexuality (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) in the historical setting of Israel attempting to survive physically and maintain its religious and social integrity in the face of foreign influences the people encountered in a new location. The regulations in this book constitute a “Holiness Code, ” intended, in large part, for the priests as rules of behavior that would distinguish the emigrants from Egypt from the Canaanites whose land they have entered. “Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore, I abhorred them. But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people [Leviticus 20:22-24].” The practical implementation of this “separation” took the form of instructions pertaining to security, preserving a cultural identity, and procreation so as to enlarge the population. The Israelites were not to worship Canaanite gods nor adopt their customs. The need of this community has been described as “nation building,” an attempt to maintain ethnic purity, appropriate to a particular frontier circumstance at a particular time. As examples of the effort to promote a state of strict purity, the people were forbidden to interbreed cattle, plant a field with two different kinds of seeds, or wear clothing made from two different kinds of fabrics (Leviticus 19:19). There is a long list of additional prohibitions including round haircuts, marital sexual relations during menstruation - all deemed impure. Many of these violations were punishable by death. Sex between men is described as an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22). The Hebrew word is “tow’ebah” or ‘to’ebah,” which has a range of meanings, but whose intent as it appears in a number of verses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy seems to be “abhorrent because of being idolatrous or ceremonially unclean [133].” Thus, other “abominations” included eating organisms that creep on the earth (Lev. 11:4), taking idols (or removing the gold or silver from them) obtained from defeated enemies (Deut. 7:25), sacrificing a blemished bull or sheep (Deut. 17:1), wearing the clothing of a person of the opposite gender (Deut. 22:5), being a practitioner of magic or the mystical (Deut. 18:12), taking back a divorced wife whose subsequent husband had died (Deut. 24:4), or doing business with dishonest scales or rulers (Deut. 25:16). Many of these concerns are clearly anachronisms in today’s society, or at best viewed as trivial, and not intrinsically evil. This is especially true since the required punishment for same-gender sex was death, also prescribed for adultery, sex with one’s parents, sex with one’s children, sex with animals (Lev. 20: 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16), but also for cursing one’s parents (v. 9), dabbling in the occult (v. 27), blaspheming God’s name (Lev. 24:16), murder (Lev. 24:21), or advocating the worship of false gods (Deut. 13:5). Few today would consider the death penalty appropriate for all of these kinds of behaviors, even those deemed highly contemptible.
So those who argue in favor of a letter of the law Old Testament condemnation of homosexuality appear to be guilty of a serious inconsistency, by advocating one set of prohibitions while disregarding most of the others. But the more important point is that the same-sex acts referred to were undoubtedly perceived to be between heterosexuals, there being no concept at the time in this culture that there existed in humanity any other state than to be opposite-sex attracted.”
The New Testament statements of Paul
“Writing from Greece, Paul begins his letter to the Romans with greetings (Romans 1:1-15), and then launches a sermon on the degraded state of human kind, probably highly influenced by the pagan practices he had observed in his recent missionary journeys. He decries the fact that though the ways of godliness are obvious, the people have abandoned righteousness. They have substituted love of self for love of god. Beginning with worship of idols, there follows a long list of inappropriate attitudes and behaviors which derive from this self deception. Among these, verses 26-27, are same-gender sexual acts, deemed unnatural for either women or men. The emphasis here is on the capacity of people to be contrary, to know what is right, but to do the opposite. In this context, being one thing but doing another, it is reasonable to believe that Paul was condemning those of a heterosexual orientation who performed homosexual acts, and that it was unlikely that he imagined that some women or men were homosexual by nature. “The idea was not available in his world. Other statements in the writings of Paul about those who “abuse” (I Cor. 6:9) or “defile” (I Tim. 1:10) “themselves with mankind” are most likely references to male prostitutes, an interpretation consistent with his companion examples of promiscuity (fornicators, adulterers, whoremongers). I propose, then, as have others before me, that when the two or three Biblical writers denounced homosexual behavior they were addressing the issue of heterosexual persons engaging in homosexual sex. It was inconceivable to them that there were persons whose natural state was to be romantically oriented to those of their same gender. Such a possibility just did not occur to these people at that time. I note the absence of a reference to homosexuality in the Book of Mormon, or Pearl of Great Price, or, especially, in The Doctrine and Covenants. Disease-causing microorganisms were unknown until the rise of late 18th century scientific technology permitted their detection and a conceptualization of their role in human affairs. In an analogous way, it has taken even more time for us to conceive of a segment of humanity with a non-heterosexual orientation, and for gay and lesbian people to emerge from the realm of the invisible. I submit that our current perspective should take into account recent knowledge and experience. Human understanding of what is true changes over time. Truth may be eternal, but our comprehension of it is neither automatic nor complete. It takes time, usually a long time, for us to learn[.] What seems apparent is that God doesn’t jump in unilaterally and correct our deficiencies in knowledge and understanding; He appears to wait patiently while we figure things out for ourselves. The evidence is strong, as presented in Parts I and II of this document, that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are homosexual by nature, and that their type of sexual orientation is not alterable. This information places us under obligation to reconsider misconceptions we may have harbored, even those based on scripture, when we recognize our understanding to be faulty.[ccxxxi]
Wrote Clay Essig of invoking Paul’s teachings about homosexuality:
“A few of Paul’s teachings are another traditional roadblock to accepting and blessing God’s Gay children. We Latter-day Saints readily dismiss Paul’s teachings regarding women keeping silent in church (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-12), the wearing or not wearing of hats (1 Cor. 11:4-7), hair length (1 Cor. 11:14-15), his injunction to “drink no longer water, but use a little wine” (1 Tim. 5:23), shunning and shaming sinners (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thes. 3:14), the marital status of deacons and bishops (1 Timothy 3:2, 8, 12), the verses used to justify slavery (Eph. 6:5 etc.), not to mention the verses which suggest celibacy is more noble than marriage (1 Cor. 7:7-9, 38); but many promote vehemently Paul’s writings that are traditionally used to condemn all homosexuals and homosexuality.[ccxxxii]
Also, there is a lack of teachings about homosexuality in modern canon:
“One of the more singularly striking facts is that in the entire Book of Mormon and the other modern scriptures there is not one single reference to homosexuality. These scriptures contain the "fullness of the Gospel" and all the essential commandments for the Saints, and yet the subject of homosexuality is conspicuously absent. To my knowledge, Joseph Smith never mentioned the subject.[ccxxxiii] 
No doubt some of the more enthusiastic view the silence of modern scriptural canon on homosexuality as “writing on the wall.”  Said one:
“As [most Mormons] see it, the Lord by means of his prophets has repeatedly condemned homosexuality.  But has He?  Where are these prophetic denunciations so often cited by opponents of same-sexuality?  They are not found in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, or the Pearl of Great Price- an astonishing omission given the alleged gravity of the sin.  … Mormon prophets have not condemned homosexuality on the strength of prophetic authority.  … Not even statements from the First Presidency which have appeared in various editions of the bishop’s handbook can make the claim of [being revelation] since they represent an arbitration of policy, not doctrine.[ccxxxiv]
 It is debatable whether scripturally-based modern teachings about homosexual behavior survive independent of scriptural canon: debile fundamentum fallit opus (where there is a weak foundation, the work fails).  In any case, appeals to the New and Old Testament homosexuality condemnations are not a sufficiently certain basis for concluding one way or the other about God’s views on the morality of homosexuality:
“It follows that to condemn homosexuality as sinful simply on the basis of appeal to biblical authority is insufficient.  We must undertake a more painstaking moral assessment based on its effects.  The highest criteria against which Latter-day Saint Christians should measure behavior (including homosexual behavior) were given us by Jesus Christ.  He taught us to evaluate attitudes and actions not by their conformity to the letter of a generalized law but rather according to their compatibility with the spirit of love and the degree to which they promote self-development.  In this light, sin is behavior that weakens our capacity for love, impedes our growth toward divine characteristics, and undermines our worth and dignity as offspring of God… 
I believe he would recognize that they too have been given God’s gift of sexuality for their potential benefit.  To that end he would judge the expression of homosexuality by standards similar to those we apply to heterosexuals: is it committed and loving in a larger context rather than promiscuous, selfish, and merely sensual? ‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ he taught, and the fruits of the homosexual life vary considerably, even as do the fruits of heterosexuality.  Perhaps the appropriate question is not whether but how one is homosexual.
Would Jesus find homosexual expression sinful because it is biologically infertile?  I think not.  Conceiving, bearing, and rearing children in this life may be a blessing, but it is not sine qua non for salvation and continuing growth.  Many married people do not produce offspring, and we do not regard this as evidence of moral failure.  If homosexuals are biochemically unsuited for the psychological demands of heterosexual cohabitation, that is sufficient reason not to marry.
Would Jesus find homosexual expression sinful on grounds that sexual intimacy outside marriage is forbidden?  I doubt he would look at the matter that simplistically… He would recognize that for most of us, whatever our sexual orientation, a fulfilled life is more likely if an individual is sustained by the love of another person within the bonds of caring, committed intimacy… He would recognize that marriage, through sharing and commitment, provides stability and mutual support conducive to maximum growth of the partners.  For what sanctifies marriage is not its legal formality but rather the holy enterprise of bonding and complementing which is intrinsic to it.
I believe that Jesus would recognize that homosexuals, deprived of socially approved cohabitation, have nevertheless the same righteous need for loving commitment.  Would he deny them opportunities for growth that are compatible with their nature and with righteous love?  That means, of course, that gays should enter monogamous, faithful relationships analogous to our ideal of heterosexual marriage.  Ultimately Jesus would, I believe, judge each human relationship on its own merits.[ccxxxv]

26. The utility of suffering argues for SSM

When discussing SSM with my LDS friends, it is not uncommon for me to hear comments like the following:
“I have been through the hell of abandonment, loneliness, misunderstanding, confusion, frustration, and despair that accompanies same gender attraction. My soul has shattered from the sheer torture of it. I believe that each and every one of God's children must experience those feelings in this life, maybe even more than once. As unpleasant as they may be, they teach us compassion and love, patience and charity.”
“All of us must bear crosses in this life - there is no getting around that.  Life is not supposed to be easy or smooth.  It's a test.  It's a refiner's fire.  It's a probationary period for people to prepare to meet God, a time to prepare for our eternal future…”
“I believe that every problem presents an opportunity, and with this particular challenge comes a corresponding spiritual opportunity.  It is an opportunity to build spiritual muscles that few people are given… spiritual growth does not come when one shrinks from divinely-appointed challenges.” 

These and similar statements argue for maintaining the hellish experience of dealing with same gender attraction because of the eternal utility of suffering.  After all, we cannot become like God without passing through severe trials, right?  I will now show why this view is grossly immoral.
This attitude is evil because it justifies harming innocent people.  The necessity of severe trials for salvation is an insufficient basis to rationalize imposing intense suffering on another person.  Racist behavior with its corresponding effect on people (causing a child of God to think that Heavenly Father views him as less than another person) could certainly “build spiritual muscles that few people are given.”  Torturing someone for years in a dank prison would no doubt make life less “easy or smooth” and convert life into “a test” and a “refiner’s fire.”  Arbitrarily gouging out a person’s eyes would unquestionably impose a severe, lifelong trial on that person that could help teach them “compassion and love, patience and charity.”  Yet I hope it is obvious that none of these consequentialist arguments justify such clearly immoral acts.  It would similarly be unethical to obstruct development of AIDS treatments, or oppose reasonable efforts to reduce child abuse, or, God forbid, sexually molest a young child knowing how likely that act is to impose intense, lifelong suffering on that person, because of the eternal utility of suffering!  The suffering and happiness reductions that most homosexually oriented members experience are not because of some condition inherent to mortality, such as malaria or severe burns resulting from an unforeseeable accident or getting cancer.  Their suffering does not even directly result from being homosexually oriented.  Most of their difficulties are instead caused primarily by the insistence of Latter-day Saints that 1) non-biological causes such as the devil or choice are responsible for their homosexuality, 2) homosexually oriented members can and should alter their ultimately damning orientation in mortality and their failure to do so reflects their lack of effort and faith, and 3) they should remain celibate their entire lives.  These three factors are not accidents; they are not unfortunate and unavoidable aspects of mortality.  They are choices made by the LDS community, my LDS community- choices within that community’s power to change. 


How much room in this world’s LDS theology is there for LDS same-sex marriage?  Enough for two elephants, long-ways, with a walkway in between. 

[i] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 7.
[ii] “Church Responds to HRC Petition,” 12 October 2010.  http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/church-mormon-responds-to-human-rights-campaign-petition-same-sex-attraction
[iii] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 37.
[iv] Communication between *Matthew and the author, September 2010.
[v] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 26. 
[vi] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[vii] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-57.
[viii] Carol Lynn Pearson, No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones pg. 9.
[ix] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 41.
[x] Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-sex Attraction, edited by Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, pg. 111.
[xi] Carol Lynn Pearson, No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones pg. 18.
[xii] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[xiii] “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World- a Response,” Documents of the Vatican II, ed. W. ABill Bradshaw, “The evidenced for a biological origin of homosexuality” pg. 43. Available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=enott, pg. 314-315, also “The Pastoral Constitution” no. 50.  Quoted from McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 205-206 (1976). 
[xiv] Valerie Hudson, "Equality, Love, Marriage, Zion: A Response to Ralph Hancock," May 2009, "Additional Commentary on the Sherlock/Hertzberg/Hancock Debate, Page 2," SquareTwo, Vol. 2 No. 1 (Spring 2009) http://squaretwo.org/Sq2AddlCommentarySherlock2.html
[xv] Reed H. Bradford, "Family: Teachings About the Family," Encyclopedia of Mormonism 1992, available at http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Family
[xvi] The Safe Space Coalition, Comprised of members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, http://www.affirmation.org/activism/safe_space.shtml#declaration, 2004.
[xvii] Ron Schow, “Homosexual Attraction and LDS Marriage Decisions,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Fall 2005, vol. 38, no. 3, pg. 133-134.
[xviii] Marybeth Raynes, “Homosexual Attraction and LDS Marriage Decisions,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Fall 2005, vol. 38, no. 3, pg. 144-147.
[xix] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-55.
[xx] Oaks/Wickman press conference
[xxi] Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. ___ (2010), is a June 28, 2010, decision by the United States Supreme Court. The court upheld, against a First Amendment challenge, the policy of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law governing official recognition of student groups, which required the groups to accept all students regardless of their status or beliefs in order to obtain recognition. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Legal_Society_v._Martinez
[xxii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfkf716Ufbo
[xxiii] Kendler, K.S., et al., (1994). A twin family study of alcoholism in women. In: Am J. Psychiatry 151, (pp707-715) quoted in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance_dependence “Epidemiological studies estimate that genetic factors account for 40-60% of the risk factors for alcoholism”
[xxiv] Andrew Sullivan, Love Undetected: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival 1998.
[xxv] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-60.
[xxvi] “The Truth about Mormonism,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, Sept. 1905, 242.
[xxvii] Neal A. Maxwell, "Spiritual Ecology", New Era, Feb. 1975, 35.
[xxviii] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 41.
[xxix] Vincent J. Samar, “The case for treating same-sex marriage as a human right and the harm of denying human dignity,” in Wardle’s What’s the Harm, pg. 241-242.
[xxx] Verbal communication between me and the friend, around September 2010.
[xxxi] Verbal communication between me and the friend, September 2010.
[xxxii] God Loveth His Children, 2007, available at http://lds.org/topics/pdf/GodLovethHisChildren_04824_000.pdf
[xxxiii] Gordon B. Hinckley, “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Dec 1995, 66–67
[xxxiv] Quoted from J. E. McCullough, Home: The Savior of Civilization [1924], 42; Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 116 and/or in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 5.
[xxxv] Family- I Can Have One Too, Gay Mormon Guy, Blog: "In these gay mormon shoes."  Downloaded December 2010 from http://ingaymormonshoes.blogspot.com/2010/12/arg-family-i-can-have-one-too.html
[xxxvi] See my marriage post http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2009/12/covenant-hearts-marriage-and-joy-of.html
[xxxvii] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 26n47, 82-83; Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (New York: Villard/Random house, 1994). 
[xxxviii] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example, 130-131. 
[xxxix] See Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration 1, 1890.
[xl] W. John Walsh, “Is Interracial Marriage a Sin?” http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/blacks_chosen.htm
[xli] Hugo Salinas, "LDS Church Threatens to Excommunicate Legally Married Man: Affirmation Member Buckley Jeppson to Face Church Court," March 16, 2006, http://www.affirmation.org/news/2006_26.shtml
[xlii] Church Handbook of Instructions 2010, Handbook 1, 17.3.10, page 166: “The church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.”
[xliii] There seems little reason outside the mere fact of prohibition to condone marital heterosexual but not marital homosexual sex.  For more on the “why’s” of sex, see e.g. Jeffrey Holland’s “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” http://www.familylifeeducation.org/gilliland/procgroup/Souls.htm (Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was delivered on 12 January 1988 in the Marriott Center.)
[xliv] Harold B. Lee, The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24–26, 1973, with Reports and Discourses, 69.
[xlv] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 256–7.
[xlvi] http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/06/28/gayby/
[xlvii] http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ReproductiveHealth/story?id=8232392&page=1
[xlviii] http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html
[xlix] Mark Strasser, “The Alleged Harms of Recognizing Same-sex Marriage,” in Wardle’s What’s the Harm, pg. 33.
[l] AdamInGeorgia wrote at 05/01/2011 00:36:04 am on Economist Debates, http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/634
[li]http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/documents/Amer_Psychological_Assn_Amicus_Curiae_Brief.pdf, http://wedding.thejons.net/homework/optional_readings.pdf
[lii] http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/userfiles/Documents/Marriage%20of%20Same-Sex%20Couples%20Position%20Statement%20-%20October%202006%20%281%29.pdf .] 
[liii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_lactation
[liv] Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos , Pediatrics published online Jun 7, 2010;  DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-3153, “US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents,” available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2009-3153v1
[lv] Timothy J. Biblarz, Evren Savci.  "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families," article first published online: 18 June 2010, Journal of Marriage and Family, Volume 72, Issue 3, pages 480–497.
[lvi] “Marriage of Same-Sex Couples” – 2006 Position Statement, Canadian Psychological Association, available at http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/userfiles/Documents/Marriage%20of%20Same-Sex%20Couples%20Position%20Statement%20-%20October%202006%20%281%29.pdf
[lvii] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): pg. 62, footnote 4.
[lviii] http://h1.ripway.com/lds4gaymarriage/children.htm
[lix] Family- I Can Have One Too, Gay Mormon Guy, Blog: "In these gay mormon shoes."  Downloaded December 2010 from http://ingaymormonshoes.blogspot.com/2010/12/arg-family-i-can-have-one-too.html
[lx] Mark Strasser, “The Alleged Harms of Recognizing Same-sex Marriage,” in Wardle’s What’s the Harm, pg. 29.
[lxi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 79.
[lxii] “Father, Consider Your Ways,” Ensign, Jun 2002, 12
[lxiii] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 22.
[lxiv] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 23.
[lxv] "Let them wed: There is no compelling reason to exclude homosexual couples from marriage, and several compelling reasons to include them," Jan 4th 1996,  http://www.economist.com/node/2515389
[lxvi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 78.
[lxvii] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 23.
[lxviii] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 26.
[lxix] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 27.
[lxx] James Q. Wilson, The Moral Sense, 1993.
[lxxi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 20.
[lxxii] "Let them wed: There is no compelling reason to exclude homosexual couples from marriage, and several compelling reasons to include them," Jan 4th 1996,  http://www.economist.com/node/2515389
[lxxiii] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 21.
[lxxiv] John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me, Signet, pg. 197.
[lxxv] Friend of the author, oral communication, January 2011.
[lxxvi] Barbara Couden Hernandez, Naomi J. Schwenke, & Colwick M. Wilson, "Spouses in Mixed-Orientation Marriage: a 20-year Review of Empirical Studies," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26 April 2010, pg. 4, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2010.00202.x/pdf
[lxxvii] Dallin Oaks: “Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.” Description: “The following interview was conducted in 2006 with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. These senior Church leaders responded to questions from two members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff.”  Available at http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction.
[lxxviii] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 96-97.
[lxxix] M. V. Lee Badgett, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens, When Societies Legalize Same-sex Marriage, 2009, pg. 4.
[lxxx] Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Men Only,” General Conference Priesthood Session, October 2, 1976.
[lxxxi] Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” October 3 2010, original transcript quote available at http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2010/10/why-would-our-heavenly-father-do-that-to-anyone/
[lxxxii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender
[lxxxiii] Ben Hertzberg, "Marriage, Mormonism, and Homosexuality: A Response to Richard Sherlock," March 2009,   http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleSherlockMarriage.html
[lxxxiv] http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_pra2.htm
[lxxxv] History of the Church, 5:529–30; spelling and punctuation modernized; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Aug. 13, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.
[lxxxvi] Written communication with the author, September 2010 (name of quoted withheld).
[lxxxvii] Written communication with the author, September 2010 (name of quoted withheld).
[lxxxviii] Written communication with the author, September 2010 (name of quoted withheld).
[lxxxix] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_fellowship
[xc] http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/07/transparent-sin-pros-and-cons.html
[xci] Elder B.H. Roberts, “Book of Mormon Translation,” 9. 
[xcii] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-59-60.
[xciii] See “The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature: A Revised History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980” by Connell O’Donovan.  Available at http://www.connellodonovan.com/abom.html
[xciv] Connell O’Donovan, “The Etiology of Homosexuality from Authoritative Latter-day Saint Perspectives, 1879-2006,” November 2006.  Available at http://connellodonovan.com/etiology.htm
[xcv] Don Lattin, Chronicle Religion Writer, "Musings of the Main Mormon," San Francisco Chronicle April 13, 1997, Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1997/04/13/SC36289.DTL#ixzz13F1aGgry, downloaded from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1997/04/13/SC36289.DTL
[xcvi] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 375.
[xcvii] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 95; see also chapter 10.
[xcviii] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 272.
[xcix] See Frank Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, Comprising Photographs-Genealogies-Biographies (1913), pg. 246, quoted in D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 272. 
[c] Salt Lake County Probate Court, Civil and Criminal Docket Book, page 240 for 13 sept. and 19 Sept. 1864, Series 3944, Reel 3, Utah State Archives, qtd in D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 272.
[ci] See references in footnote 50, D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 297.  Quote from page 274.
[cii] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 276.
[ciii] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 232.
[civ] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 265.
[cv] George Chauncey, in Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York: Basic Books/HarperCollins, 1994), qtd in D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 69. 
[cvi] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 85.
[cvii] Kenny, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 2:227 (16 Apr. 1843), qtd in D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 87.
[cviii] Missionary Handbook, “You and your companion are to sleep in the same bedroom, but not in the same bed.” p. 24 (not sure which year- 2000’s somewhere).   Also called the “White Handbook.”
[cix] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 91.
[cx] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 370-373.
[cxi] D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 370-373.
[cxii] Bush, “Excommunication and Church Courts,” pg. 84, qtd in D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example pg. 380.
[cxiii] D. Michael Quinn (1995), "Male-Male Intimacy among Nineteenth-century Mormons—a Case Study", 28(4) Dialogue, 105–28.
[cxiv] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-60.
[cxv] Mac Madsen, "Homosexuality and the Church: Perspectives of an LDS Father," from a paper delivered at the 2000 Sunstone Symposium, available at http://www.affirmation.org/resources/homosexuality_and_the_church.shtml.  Also at History of the Church 5:340.
[cxvi] Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” in An Abundant Life, available at http://www.lds-mormon.com/brown.shtml
[cxvii] Article of Faith 9.
[cxviii] BYU Board of Trustees consisting of the First Presidency, seven members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities and Officers, quoted in Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements by William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery, Greg Kofford Books 2005, page 4.
[cxix] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-55.
[cxx] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 93.
[cxxi] George Handley, "The environmental ethics of mormon belief," BYU Studies 40: 2 (2001) pg. 206.
[cxxii] Milgram, Stanley (1963). "Behavioral Study of Obedience". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67: 371–378.  See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment#cite_note-ObedStudy-0.
[cxxiii] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_meadow_massacre
[cxxiv] Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI), 2006, 186-188.  “Artificial insemination with semen from anyone but the husband is strongly discouraged.”  “Artificial Insemination of single sisters is not approved.” “In vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife is strongly discouraged.” “Surrogate motherhood is strongly discouraged.” “The donation of sperm is strongly discouraged.” “The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control.”   I quote from this resource because 1) the 2006 CHI is broadly available online, 2) excerpts are abundant on blogs, and 3) the release of the controlling 2010 CHI has made the 2006 CHI instructive and valuable historically, but no longer binding. 
[cxxv] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 61.
[cxxvi] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 61.
[cxxvii] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268.
[cxxviii] Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, "Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood/Lifting the ban" available at http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Lifting_the_ban
[cxxix] Goates, Harold B. Lee, 465, also 404 for Lee’s administrative supremacy as first counselor, quoted in D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 15.
[cxxx] President Spencer W. Kimball, “Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec 1974, 2
[cxxxi] http://en.fairmormon.org/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Lifting_the_ban
[cxxxii] Ernest L. Wilkinson Diary, 3 Mar. 1965, qtd in. Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 14.
[cxxxiii] LeGrand Richards to Ernest L. Wilkinson, 27 Dec. 1967, Wilkinson papers, Lee Library, qtd in Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 13.  See also Richards’s 1974 tape-recorded oral history in LDS archives.
[cxxxiv] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 14.
[cxxxv] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 14.
[cxxxvi] Brigham Henry Roberts, By the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Part 1, Volume 6, page 184. 1844, reported by Wilford Woodruff.
[cxxxvii] History of the Church, 4:478; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Dec. 19, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff.
[cxxxviii] Andy Fernuik, Dear Mr. Stephens: Letters of Love and of Hope.  Pg. 47-48.  http://www.andyfernuik.com/
[cxxxix] Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” Bruce R. McConkie was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this address was given at the CES Religious Educators Symposium on 18 August 1978.
[cxl] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma
[cxli] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 256–7.
[cxlii] 2 Nephi 4:35
[cxliii] Jeffrey Nielsen: “Legalizing gay marriage would strengthen the institution of marriage” 4 June 2006,
“Three days before the US senate voted on, and rejected, a proposal for writing discrimination into the Constitution, Jeffrey Nielsen, an organizational consultant and philosophy instructor at Brigham Young University, published the following editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune,” available at http://www.affirmation.org/news/2006_46.shtml
[cxliv] Gordon A. Babst, Emily R. Gill, & Jason Pierceson, editors, Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-sex Marriage, 2009, xviii.
[cxlv] http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/political-neutrality
[cxlvi] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, 384-398.  “the use of meetinghouses was encouraged in Hinckley’s private instructions to regional representatives, stake presidents, and ‘state[wide] ERA coordinators” (397); “LDS church ‘involvement in the ERA controversy may well have exceeded legal boundaries for tax-exempt institutions” (398); 5 October 1979 instruction: “Church building[s] may be used for ERA education, Any and all Church meetings are appropriate forums for discussing ERA” (384);   “Mormon congregations received leaflets describing how to vote for referendums and sometimes for state legislators” (385); “On crucial ERA referendums Mormon congregations tried to distribute anti-ERA leaflets to the doorsteps or car windshields of all eligible voters.  Wards in Tempe, Arizona, made this pamphlet distribution an assignment for priesthood boys ages fourteen to sixteen” (386); “In each state anti-ERA “civic” organizations of Mormons, sometimes of women only, were organized under the direction of Regional Representatives of the Twelve.  The regional leaders acted under the direction of Gordon B. Hinckley, chair of the Special Affairs Committee at LDS headquarters” (386). 
[cxlvii] Mac Madsen, "Homosexuality and the Church: Perspectives of an LDS Father," from a paper delivered at the 2000 Sunstone Symposium, available at http://www.affirmation.org/resources/homosexuality_and_the_church.shtml 
[cxlviii] See Proposition 22, “The Knight Initiative,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposition_22
[cxlix] Some details at http://www.lds-mormon.com/article9.shtml; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaii_Constitutional_Amendment_2_(1998)
[cl] Some details at http://www.lds-mormon.com/gaylds.shtml, http://www.examiner.com/lds-church-in-national/same-sex-marriage-banned-hawaii-the-lds-church-s-role
[cli] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, 399-400.  See additional references in footnote 191.
[clii] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg. 400.  See additional references in footnote 192.
[cliii] Randolph G. Muhlestein, “The Case Against Gay Marriage,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall c2007): 2.
[cliv] Letter in possession of the author, January 2010.
[clv] Mark E. Peterson, “Race Problems as They Affect the Church,” delivered at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, August 27,1954, http://www.lds-mormon.com/racism.shtml.
[clvi] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pg. 114.
[clvii] Mark E. Peterson, “Race Problems as They Affect the Church,” delivered at the Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, August 27,1954, http://www.lds-mormon.com/racism.shtml.
[clviii] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pg. 114.
[clix] Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 303.
[clx] Several may be found at http://www.lds-mormon.com/racism.shtml
[clxi] Mac Madsen, "Homosexuality and the Church: Perspectives of an LDS Father," from a paper delivered at the 2000 Sunstone Symposium, available at http://www.affirmation.org/resources/homosexuality_and_the_church.shtml.
[clxii] Moroni 8:18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.
[clxiii] Doctrine and Covenants 38:16 And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons.
[clxiv] Journal of Discourses 10: 109.
[clxv] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, pp. 107-108.
[clxvi] Journal of Discourses 7:290-291 (October 9, 1859).
[clxvii] Amos 3:7- “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
[clxviii] “Excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff regarding the manifesto,”
 Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.
[clxix] Brett Alan Sanders, Review Essay, “He Was Solitary, Rebellious, and Hard to be Governed,” reviewing Garry Wills’s What Jesus Meant, in Sunstone March 2007, pg. 68.
[clxx] Ezra Taft Benson, apostle, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” February 26, 1980, available at http://www.lds-mormon.com/fourteen.shtml
[clxxi] Brett Alan Sanders, Review Essay, “He Was Solitary, Rebellious, and Hard to be Governed,” reviewing Garry Wills’s What Jesus Meant, in Sunstone March 2007, pg. 67.
[clxxii] See Arbinger Institute’s Leadership and Self-Deception and Anatomy of Peace.
[clxxiii] Neal A. Maxwell, "Spiritual Ecology", New Era, Feb. 1975, 35.
[clxxiv] Regina M. Schwartz, The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), pg. 5.
[clxxv] Carol Lynn Pearson, No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones pg. 64.
[clxxvi] Jeffrey Nielsen: “Legalizing gay marriage would strengthen the institution of marriage” 4 June 2006,
“Three days before the US senate voted on, and rejected, a proposal for writing discrimination into the Constitution, Jeffrey Nielsen, an organizational consultant and philosophy instructor at Brigham Young University, published the following editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune,” available at http://www.affirmation.org/news/2006_46.shtml
[clxxvii] M. V. Lee Badgett, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens, When Societies Legalize Same-sex Marriage, 2009, pg. 63.
[clxxviii]Cindy Le Fevre, “The Hidden Nazi Mentality in the Proclamation on the Family,” a paper originally presented at the Affirmation National Conference, Portland, Oregon, September 5, 1998; revised and presented to the Mormon Women's Forum Counterpoint Conference, October 2000, available at http://www.affirmation.org/proclamation_on_the_family/hidden_nazi_mentality.shtml. 
[clxxix] M. V. Lee Badgett, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens, When Societies Legalize Same-sex Marriage, 2009, pg. 8-9, 213.
[clxxx] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 81.
[clxxxi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 94.
[clxxxii] "Let them wed: There is no compelling reason to exclude homosexual couples from marriage, and several compelling reasons to include them," Jan 4th 1996,  http://www.economist.com/node/2515389
[clxxxiii] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-56.
[clxxxiv] Clay Essig, Believing the Words of Jesus Christ – a Gay LDS Perspective pg. 10, www.GaysAndTheGospel.org. 
[clxxxv] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-59.
[clxxxvi] See Barbara Couden Hernandez, Naomi J. Schwenke, & Colwick M. Wilson, "Spouses in Mixed-Orientation Marriage: a 20-year Review of Empirical Studies," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26 April 2010, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2010.00202.x/pdf
[clxxxvii] Buxton, A. P. (2004). “Works in progress: How mixed-orientation couples maintain their marriages after the wives come out,” Journal of Bisexuality, 4, 59–82.
[clxxxviii] Gordon A. Babst, Emily R. Gill, & Jason Pierceson, editors, Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-sex Marriage, 2009, 218.
[clxxxix] Gordon A. Babst, Emily R. Gill, & Jason Pierceson, editors, Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-sex Marriage, 2009, 215.
[cxc] “THT: I had the Atonement wrong,” http://ingaymormonshoes.blogspot.com/2011/01/tht-i-had-atonement-wrong.html, 5 January 2011, In These Gay Mormon Shoes blog.
[cxci] Gordon A. Babst, Emily R. Gill, & Jason Pierceson, editors, Moral Argument, Religion, and Same-sex Marriage, 2009, 216-217.
[cxcii] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-59.
[cxciii] Valerie Hudson, "Equality, Love, Marriage, Zion: A Response to Ralph Hancock," May 2009, "Additional Commentary on the Sherlock/Hertzberg/Hancock Debate, Page 2," SquareTwo, Vol. 2 No. 1 (Spring 2009) http://squaretwo.org/Sq2AddlCommentarySherlock2.html
[cxciv] See e.g. Doctrine and Covenants 38:16.
[cxcv] http://h1.ripway.com/lds4gaymarriage/benefits.htm
[cxcvi] Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: 10 Principles, 2006, p.20, www.princetonprinciples.org
[cxcvii] L. Waite & E. Lehrer, The Benefits from Marriage & Religion in the U.S.: A Comparative Analysis, Population & Development Review, Vol 29, No. 2, June 2003, p. 264.
[cxcviii] Brad Wilcox, “26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Institute for American Values, Why Marriage Matters, 2nd Edition, 2003, www.americanvalues.org
[cxcix] Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: 10 Principles, 2006, p.20, www.princetonprinciples.org.
[cc] Brad Wilcox, “26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Institute for American Values, Why Marriage Matters, 2nd Edition, 2003, www.americanvalues.org, p. 17 & Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: 10 Principles, 2006, p.20, www.princetonprinciples.org
[cci] L. Waite, Does Marriage Matter?, p. 468.
[ccii] Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: 10 Principles, 2006, p.20, www.princetonprinciples.org
[cciii] Brad Wilcox, “26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” Institute for American Values, Why Marriage Matters, 2nd Edition, 2003, www.americanvalues.org, p. 17 & Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: 10 Principles, 2006, p.20, www.princetonprinciples.org
[cciv] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-54.
[ccv] Lexington, "Gay marriage,"  Apr 9th 2009, The Economist, http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2009/04/gay_marriage
[ccvi] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 79.
[ccvii] Dallin Oaks: “Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.” Description: “The following interview was conducted in 2006 with Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, and Elder Lance B. Wickman, a member of the Seventy. These senior Church leaders responded to questions from two members of the Church’s Public Affairs staff.”  Available at http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction.
[ccviii] There is some debate as to whether same-sex couples may kiss and hold hands.  Because such gestures are not typically considered sinful for heterosexuals, some consider them moral for homosexuals as well.  A friend wrote me an email in December 2010: "On the one hand, President Hinckley stated, ‘Now, we have gays in the church. Good people. We take no action against such people -- provided they don't become involved in transgression, sexual transgression. If they do, we do with them exactly what we'd do with heterosexuals who transgress.  We have a very strong moral teaching concerning abstinence before marriage and total fidelity following marriage. And, regardless of whether they're heterosexuals or otherwise, if they step over that line there are certain sanctions, certain penalties that are imposed.’ (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1997/04/13/SC36289.DTL&ao=3#ixzz19WGr5vgL)  This states quite clearly that Church discipline should not be taken against gays unless they commit sexual transgression, and that the standard of definition is exactly the same as for heterosexuals. Therefore, since flirting and kissing are not considered sexual transgressions for heterosexuals, they shouldn't be for homosexuals either. For additional relevant quotes on this point, there is Elder Marlin K. Jensen's statement, "there is a single standard actually of morality for all members of the church" (http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/jensen.html), also Elder Holland's, "You see, same-gender attraction is not a sin, but acting on those feelings is-just as it would be with heterosexual feelings." (http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=e5cbba12dc825110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1).”  On the other hand, BYU’s honor code maintains a double-standard: “Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”  Ironically, this permits heterosexuals to engage in more physically intimate relations with the same sex than homosexuals.  Also, some local leaders discipline same-sex flirting or kissing more than the same behaviors by opposite-sex couples. 
[ccix] Wayne Schow, “ A Case for Same Sex Marriage: Reply to Randolph Muhlstein,”  Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40:3 (Fall 2007): 40-57.
[ccx] See Helen Fisher, Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.
[ccxi] First Presidency Letter, November 14, 1991.  Also quoted in Church Handbook of Instructions 2006, pg. 187.
[ccxii] Michael J. Sandel, Moral Argument and Liberal Toleration: Abortion and Homosexuality, 77 Cal. L. Rev. 521 (1989) at 535 (quoting Hardwick v. Bowers, 760 F.2d 1202, 1212 (11th circ. 1985), rev’d 478 U.S. 186 (1986) (footnotes omitted).
[ccxiii] For support of this claim as to Catholics, see e.g. John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 99 (1976).  Also, see “The procreative aspect becomes the primary and sometimes the only purpose of sexuality,” quoted from Curran, Catholic Moral Theology in Dialogue, p. 199. 
[ccxiv] Cf. Seven Great Encyclicals (Paramus, J.J.: Paulist Press, 1963), pg. 93-94.  Quoted from John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 100 (1976).
[ccxv] “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World- a Response,” Documents of the Vatican II, ed. W. Abbott, pg. 314-315, also “The Pastoral Constitution” no. 50.  Quoted from McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 205-206 (1976). 
[ccxvi] John McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 104 (1976).
[ccxvii] John McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 102. 
[ccxviii] John McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual, pg. 103. 
[ccxix] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[ccxx] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 40.
[ccxxi] Gary M. Watts, "The Logical Next Step: Affirming Same-Sex Relationships," essay originally published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Volume 31, Number 3 [Fall 1998]: 49-57), available at http://www.affirmation.org/same-sex_unions/next_logical_step.shtml.
[ccxxii] http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/638
[ccxxiii] Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-sex Attraction, edited by Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, pg. xx.
[ccxxiv] See Margaret F. Brinig & Steven L. Nock, “Marry Me, Bill: Should Cohabitation Be the (Legal) Default Option?” 64 La. L. Rev. 403, 426 (2004).
[ccxxv] Jonathan Rauch, Gay Marriage: Why it is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America, 2004, pg. 56-57.
[ccxxvi] See e.g. Justin W. Starr, “Biblical Condemnations of Homosexual Conduct,” FAIR (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) 2004. available at http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/BiblicalHomosexuality.pdf and Ashby L. Camp, “The Bible and Homosexual Conduct” available at http://members.cox.net/theoutlet/The%20Bible%20and%20Homosexual%20Conduct.pdf
[ccxxvii] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[ccxxviii] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 34.
[ccxxix] Justin W. Starr, “Biblical Condemnations of Homosexual Conduct,” FAIR 2004.  Available at http://www.fairlds.org/pubs/BiblicalHomosexuality.pdf
[ccxxx] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[ccxxxi] Bill Bradshaw, “The Evidence for a Biological Origin of Homosexuality,” available at https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4d4HeuA_ceTYzgyODNkMGQtNjY1Mi00OWU5LWI2MmYtMjhjMzk0MTgyNTIx&hl=en pg. 36.
[ccxxxii] Clay Essig, Believing the Words of Jesus Christ – a Gay LDS Perspective pg. 4.  http://www.gaysandthegospel.org/articles/Believing_the_Words_of_Jesus_Christ.pdf
[ccxxxiii] Cloy Jenkins, “Prologue: An examination of the Mormon attitude towards homosexuality.” 1978.
[ccxxxiv] Lach, Homosexuality and Scripture from a Latter-day Saint Perspective, quoted in Rick Phillips, Conservative Christian Identity and Same-sex Orientation: The Case of Gay Mormons, 2005, pg. 98.
[ccxxxv] Peculiar People: Mormons and Same-sex Attraction, edited by Ron Schow, Wayne Schow, and Marybeth Raynes, pg. 125-126.


  1. Brad,

    I appreciate the work you have done to look at the different aspects of the issue. I like how you used quotes to let us tell our own story. I hope that many straight Mormons will read this book and have a better understanding of what it is like for us to be gay. Thank you for that. I think it will do much good.

    However, there is one point where I feel you have misrepresented us as gay people, and that is in our position as husbands and wives. I understand that many gay people have had bad experiences being married, but please realize that not all of us have had the same experience.

    First of all, you only quote people who are anti-marriage for gay people. You do not quote anything from us or from anyone sympathetic to our cause. This negative representation only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about gay people's ability to be good spouses.

    One of the quotes you included said that about half of Evergreen's population is married men. You seem to go on to say that this is a bad thing. Not every married couple who goes to Evergreen is going because they have bad marriages. Many have great marriages. I would suggest that the counselor's data you provide is skewed, because he only sees couples who have problems with their marriage, rather than those who have been successful. Not to mention many of the more conservative couples avoid going to him all together. You will find people like Jeff Robinson will have a much higher success rate. I sure wouldn't go to a counselor with a success rate like that if I had problems in my marriage.

    The next quote talks about the trauma caused by a spouse coming out AFTER marriage. I think it is unfair to blame this trauma on us being gay. Lying to your spouse about anything and marrying someone you don't love is bound to cause anyone trauma, gay or straight. There is more pressure for gay people to lie, but I think THAT is the problem that should be addressed, not a general assumption that our marriages are bad.

    The leaders have never suggested that we marry someone we don't love, or lie in order to get married. President Kimball was very clear that marriage should be considered AFTER someone was ready, not before they are ready.

  2. In quoting Elder Oaks, you make the following assertion:
    "If you cannot control your attractions (which is largely true of almost every homosexually oriented person), you could not enter opposite-gender marriage in good faith."

    You also say:
    "This concern about “not being loved” in a gay/straight marriage has led me to more pondering than any other in the area of homosexual married people."

    It seems like you are making the assumption that:
    1) We cannot control our attractions
    2) We have a problem with our spouses "not being loved"

    First I want to address the assumption that we cannot control our attractions. I think part of the problem is discerning what is meant by control our attractions. We believe that we are made to act and not be acted upon. The natural man is to be overcome through yielding to the spirit.

    I think everyone, straight or gay, is able to control their attractions. I don't think a straight male can in good faith enter into marriage if he has not controlled his attractions and is looking at porn or sleeping with other women. Do you think we have a harder time than you guys when it comes to controlling our attractions?

    I think a lot of people think that "control attractions" means to be straight. This is not the case. In Elder Packer's recent talk about overcoming our attractions, he used an example of a straight husband looking at pornography. When he said that man should overcome his sexual attractions was he saying he should change from straight to gay? Of course not. It meant stop looking at pornography. It is the same thing for overcoming homosexual behavior. It does not mean to turn from gay to straight. For a detailed analysis, see here:


    The next area of concern was the assumption that we do not love our spouses. You do quote several people arguing that sexual orientation cannot be changed, which is different than our ability to love our spouse. Lee Beckstead, who you quote, argues that gay men CAN love their wives, even though their sexual orientation is not changed. He argues that because the nature of the attraction is different, that it does not constitute a change in sexual orientation. This is the case for me. I am sexually attracted to my wife, but it is very different than my sexual attraction for men. I don't need to be sexually attracted to females to have my marriage work. I need to be sexually attracted to my wife.

    Please note I am NOT talking about bisexual men, but homosexual men.

    I think your argument would still be strong by saying there are gay people for whom traditional marriage is simply not an option without saying it is not an option for any of us. You do not have to characterize all of us as being bad, dishonest or unloving spouses in order to do it.

    I make an appeal towards your compassion. Look at some of these accusations you are raising against your gay brothers and sisters. Reconsider your position. We are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, and wives. We love our families. Please believe that.


  3. Thank you for your perspective, Joshua. I think it's a valuable and well-reasoned one. There is more I could do within the book to represent the sub-population you describe.

    Thanks for your respectful push-back,

  4. Nice blog dear I like the way as you present your view among the all visitors. I would like to join you again on this blog it’s a very nice visit on this blog. It’s very attractive and effective for visitors. Arya Samaj Mandir Gurgaon, Arya Samaj Marriage


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