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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On An Intersection of Faith and Politics

by Seattle Jon (bio)

With my own state (Washington) anticipating a November referendum to roll-back marriage equality laws passed by the state legislature in February, I am making more of an effort to educate myself ahead of the vote. Votes like this require me to navigate the intersection of faith and politics, and aren't as straight-forward as I used to think.

Consider Senator Harry Reid's May 2012 statement in support of marriage equality:

“My personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman. But in a civil society, I believe that people should be able to marry whomever they want, and it’s no business of mine if two men or two women want to get married. The idea that allowing two loving, committed people to marry would have any impact on my life, or on my family’s life, always struck me as absurd.

In talking with my children and grandchildren, it has become clear to me they take marriage equality as a given. I have no doubt that their view will carry the future."

What is clear is that Reid's position sets him apart from the official stance of our church,  which considers homosexual behavior a sin and has repeatedly campaigned against attempts to sanction same-sex relationships (though in recent years the church has supported political efforts to provide some legal protections to gay people). What isn't as clear is why this stance is permissible for the highest-ranking mormon in the U.S. government.

LDS leaders regularly point to the church's statement on relationships with government, which says public officials who are Mormon make their own decisions and may not agree "with one another or even with a publicly stated church position." Rather, elected officials "must make their own choices based on their best judgment and with consideration of the constituencies whom they were elected to represent."

What about us as members? Are we granted the same leniency to choose which side of the issue we support? For me, it's very simple. When my children grow up, and are living in a world where the gay community has equal rights, including marriage, I want them to look back and know that their parents did something during one of our generation's most important civil rights efforts. I want them to know that we did everything we could to advocate for equality, and that is why we will vote for marriage equality in November.

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