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Guest Editorial

Proposition 8 is a California state ballot proposition that has amended the state constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. It overturns a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The entirety of the text to be added to the constitution is: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

It is important to note that while this proposition passed at slightly over 50 percent, by law and constitution it must also pass by a 60 percent vote of legislators.

The campaign for Proposition 8 raised approximately $36 million, becoming the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot that day and surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except for the presidential contest.

Why is this is an issue here in Utah?

I am sickened and saddened to have come to the realization that a community I have supported, respected, and worked with for over twenty years has gone to such horrific lengths to strip the rights of another group of people. How can you put money behind a constitutional amendment that denies the approximately 18,000 gay marriages done to date in California?

As a fifty-year-old gay man in a committed twenty-year relationship, I am appalled and dismayed to have discovered that the LDS Church has pushed and prodded its members into contributing millions of dollars in support of Proposition 8, an issue that California faces not Utah.

Who am I?

I am your neighbor. We live in the same community. I care about the people of this community, and I have relentlessly proven that over the many years I have lived here.

I have volunteered and employed well over 3,000 citizens of the state of Utah, many of whom are members of the LDS church.

I am the 2001 recipient of the Children’s Advocate of the Year award from the Salt Lake City Boys and Girls Club.

I have contributed more than $750,000 to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Salt Lake City.

I created Hungry Hearts, a campaign focused on feeding the needy of Utah, collecting some 20 tons of food for this campaign and for our community, as well as over $1,500,000 in-kind and money. In addition, former Governor of Utah Norm Bangerter declared a day of Hungry Hearts to be established.

I have contributed over $1,000,000 in-kind and money to the March of Dimes of Salt Lake City.

I have received national attention by receiving the Franchisee of the Year award in 2001. This award was granted based upon my success and my ongoing contributions to the state of Utah.

I am a past sponsor in fact, the largest local sponsor of the Utah Jazz.

I have sponsored multitudes of sporting events for local grade schools, high schools, and colleges.

The above points are not meant to shine a light on my "good deeds," but to prove how far my concern for my community, this community, has extended.

Yet, I am gay.

And in the eyes of the LDS church, that somehow means I am rated a second-class citizen, one who does not deserve the same rights as a heterosexual man. Not only do I find this bigotry appalling and demeaning; not only does it anger me; but to come from the LDS Church it is heartbreaking.

It has been stated that over 70 percent of the funds received to push Proposition 8 forward have come from the LDS Church. In 1992, the LDS Church also contributed large amounts of money to a similar proposition in the state of Hawaii.

This astounds me. How can a church, with the history that LDS has, feel it is appropriate in any way to rip the rights away from another group of people? Were the LDS not persecuted and driven out of New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri for their beliefs?

I also find it interesting how the very beliefs of the LDS Church have altered and morphed over the years based on the laws of our country. For example, the LDS Church once believed that plural marriages were "right" and "just" and what God wanted. Now, however, that belief has changed after receiving a "divine message," and LDS no longer condones plural marriages.

The same can be said about now allowing black men into the LDS Church and allowing them to serve, when not that long ago the message to its members was to "tolerate the blacks and try to treat them as humane." Of course, women white or black still have no voice within the LDS community. Why is this? When will the bigotry of LDS come to a halt?

For me, and many of the other gays in this community, the LDS stance on Proposition 8, and the way they’ve preached to their congregation to contribute money in support of it, has crossed the final line. It doesn’t end here. They’ve started a ball rolling so strong, so heavy, that the effects of it will reverberate from coast to coast. I will no longer stand by in the LDS Church’s judgment of me and others like me. We have rights. I will fight for these rights every single day of my life.

I will contribute time, money, and my physical self to bring awareness to all that the LDS Church is consumed by bigotry. Can the LDS Church explain, as I and others stand in front of their places of worship, how their church is somehow above and beyond the laws of this country how the separation of church and state is relevant in all churches, except for the Latter Day Saints?

I will do everything I can to ascertain this country truly recognizes the rights of all, and I am not alone. Look out your window, because we are your neighbors. The LDS Church is preaching bigotry, and we will stand against it, until one day it ends. Though, I suppose, when our new president makes us equal to the LDS Church members, they will then "see the light" and have another "divine intervention," and change their beliefs once again.

As a businessman who has devoted much time, money, and resources into the community I live, which is greatly populated by members of the LDS Church, I am aghast and revolted to understand that my respect which has always been freely given is not returned. I will no longer stand quietly by and let it continue.


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